A preview of Cacao Buckhead

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I stopped by to check out the progress on the second location of Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. at 2815 Peachtree Road in Buckhead. Bad news first: It won’t be open in time for the Valentine’s Day chocolate run (though the original Inman Park store is certainly cranking out truffles nonstop these days; try the brand-new cherry cordials). The good news? This place is going to be stunning, and will encourage lingering more than the tiny, hidden Inman Park shop.
 
Tables and ten seats will give the chocolate boutique more the air of a small European cafe. A coffee bar will serve Batdorf & Bronson coffee (the two companies are also plotting some cool collaborations in the future), and, as a major bonus for ice cream geeks, Cacao is also partnering with High Road Craft Ice Cream. If I’m not mistaken, this will be the first time High Road’s ice cream is available in a retail shop—they’ve mostly sold wholesale. Ice cream made with Cacao chocolate will be sold along with other flavors.

For now, there’s only an enigmatic sign in the picture window indicating its presence.

 
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Inside, it’s Construction Central. When I looked in, the chandeliers had just been installed. The marble for the central bar was being cut off-site for installation this week. They’re aiming to open the weekend of February 19.
 
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This room in the back is where owner Kristen Hard will set up a lab for experimenting not just with flavor combinations for truffles, but also with every aspect of chocolate making.
 
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By the time she’s decked it out, it may look very much like the one we visited together at the University of the West Indies on Trinidad.
 
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For those who read the story we published about Hard and are curious for an update: Plans continue apace for Hard concerning Trinidad and Tobago. She still intends secure her own farm. In the meantime, she was voted in as the first “associate member” of the Tobago Cocoa Farmers Association, an alliance which will help her cut out middle men when exporting some of this year’s cacao crop. She’s partnering with a cacao farmer on Trinidad to implement new techniques in the fermentation of beans—a crucial step in flavor development for fine chocolate and something that’s high of the list of Hard’s current crop of obsessions. It was a tangent I couldn’t fit in the story, but, to put it succinctly: The current methods of cacao bean fermentation are akin to smashing grapes in vats with bare feet for wine, and, as with technological developments made in the wine industry, Hard is determined to update and patent fermentation methods that will ultimately empower cacao farmers.
 
OK, if you made it through that last paragraph, here’s something much frothier: Hard became a brunette recently.
 
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I dig it. I told her the transformation reminded me of when Carrie dyed her hair after Big left her at the altar in the first Sex and the City movie. In my mind, though, I still picture her this way:

 
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