After falling in love, traveling the world, and starting a family, Matt and Elaine quit their jobs and whisked their family off into the jungles of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. The four of them sweltered in a fecund jungle. To them, it was both beautiful and challenging. It was also home to cacao.
There, Matt and Elaine met local growers and artisanal chocolatiers. Knowing they would eventually need to return to Atlanta, the husband and wife duo apprenticed with native chocolatiers and learned the secrets of making craft bean-to-bar chocolate. They came home to create Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate (“chock-oh-LAH-tul”), a chocolate micro-factory in Atlanta where they could make dark chocolate free of fillers & unnecessary ingredients, but full of flavor.
Check out their inspiring story below and be sure to stock up on some yummy chocolates at their shop at Krog St. Market (just in time for Valentine’s Day *wink wink*)!
Elaine and husband, Matt, with their two children (enjoying chocolates!)
What is the origin of Xocolatl’s name?
Xocolatl is the original Nahuatl word, spoken by Olmecs, Mayans & Aztecs, for chocolate, which was first consumed as a sugarless drink made of ground cacao, water & spices. “Xocol” meant bitter & “atl” meant water.
What makes Xocolatl special or different from other brands?
I think what makes us different from most chocolate companies are the steps we take to carefully make chocolate. First, we source our cacao beans from small scale farmers who are able to put so much more love and attention into their cacao harvests than workers on a massive plantation and we take trips to origin whenever possible.
Once the beans are imported, we inspect them for flaws, then roast them according to the flavor profile we are highlighting for that particular chocolate batch. We then crack, winnow, grind, temper and hand wrap our bars in a process that takes about 1 week to make a micro-batch of about 300 bars. Industrial chocolate–even the really nicely packaged chocolates that are ubiquitous in chain stores and shopping malls–skip a lot of those steps in an effort to make chocolate as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Why do you think education is an important part of your business?
People are interested in where their food comes from and how it is made. I love introducing people to the fact that chocolate comes from the seed of a fruit and that, when made with an eye toward craftsmanship and the wellbeing of the consumer, chocolate can be a complex treat–full of antioxidants & incredibly nuanced flavors.
What is your favorite chocolate flavor combo from your product line?
We are sneaking a peek at our next new bar flavor with our Almond Milk Crunch Hearts available for Valentine’s Day. This new flavor is soon to be released as our newest bar. It’s vegan (almond milk) and with popped quinoa, has a little crunch.
What’s next for Xocolatl?
We are in desperate need for a larger production space to make more chocolate! Our next big step will be a larger factory in Atlanta.