Photo courtesy of Xocolatl
Matt Weyandt and Elaine Read always had traditional jobs. He worked on political campaigns, while she focused on international aid with the Peace Corps. In 2012, they packed up their two children—ages one and four—and moved to Costa Rica for a change of scenery and the chance for adventure. There, the husband-and-wife team met cacao growers and gradually learned how to grind the beans into chocolate. They decided to bring this pure, unadulterated, single-origin, two-ingredient delicacy back home to Atlanta. And Xocolatl was born.
Opening in late August or September in Krog Street Market, Xocolatl will have both a factory and retail space in its 400-square-foot market stall. Right now, Weyandt and Read are still collecting funds through Kickstarter, but they have big plans in the works. Weyandt let us in on what to expect.
Where does the name Xocolatl come from?
It’s the original word for chocolate. It comes from the Mayans and Aztecs. “Xocol” means bitter and “atl” means water. They used to drink [the cacao beans] ground down with water. They didn’t have sugar. They considered it the drink of the gods and used the cacao beans as currency. It’s pronounced “Chock-oh-la-tul.” We like the ATL on the end because to us, Chocolatl is about making something locally. We believe in the idea of knowing where your food comes from, and we want our process to be as transparent as possible.
What makes your chocolate special?
It’s two-ingredient chocolate: cacao and organic cane sugar. We’re not adding anything, no fillers or cocoa butter or anything like that. We also call it single-origin chocolate because we are approaching it how you approach wine or coffee. We don’t mix our beans. [With beans from] different regions, different environments, or different fermentations, you get a different taste profile. For example, the Madagascar bean has a bright fruity flavor, while the Bolivian bean has a dark smoky flavor.
How will Xocolatl be different from Cacao?
Cacao has done an amazing job and has done a full lineup with macaroons and truffles. We’re really focused on the chocolate in bar form, which allows the most opportunity to taste the differences between the different types of cacao that we’re using.
What kind of bars will you offer?
We’ll have flavored bars: sea salt and cacao nibs, Georgia pecan, and coffee-flavored dark chocolate. We’ll have milk chocolate bars using coconut milk for a creamy flavor—plus it’s vegan. We have one with coconut milk and jerk spices. We’ll probably have seasonal flavors as well.
Will they be available in different sizes?
Our initial offerings are all 85 gram bars, which will sell for about $8-$9 a piece.
Will we be able to see the chocolate being made?
You won’t be able to move through the production space, but you will be able to see it through a big open window. You’ll be able to watch the roasting, cracking beans, and separating husks, then stone-grinding for three days, the tempering, molding, and wrapping.
What will the rest of the space look like?
We’ll have a tasting bar where you can sample bars from different origins. We will have some free samples and also offer guided tastings (for a charge) where we
talk people through the process of how chocolate is made.
There will be a retail space in the front where we’ll sell our own product plus that from single-origin and two-ingredient chocolate makers around the country—French Broad in Asheville, Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, and Dandelion in San Francisco. We’ll carry cacao nibs (roasted broken cacao beans that are good on salads or yogurt), trail mix that we make in-house using our chocolate, and eventually a peanut butter chocolate cup.