Mast Brothers’ Dark Chocolate

overall Rating:

2.75

planets

Hannah Rosenberg
8/3/2021
No items found.

Mast Brothers is a bean-to-bar chocolate company that is USDA Organic, and an advocate for regenerative agriculture and sustainability in food products. Based in Westchester County, New York, the tour-able facility makes, packages, and ships its chocolate bars and beans across the country. I was pleased to see that Mast is transparent about the laborers who produce its chocolate along its supply chain. The family-owned chocolate company partners with chocolate farmers in Tanzania who receive a livable wage and grow organically, practices that benefit the farmers and the planet. While Mast’s transparency about its chocolate producers is an enormous step toward making the chocolate industry more environmentally and socially sustainable and ethical—most chocolate producers rely on exploited chocolate farmers for beans—I would like to see Mast support more social justice initiatives. Still, Mast is ahead of the sustainability game in the chocolate industry. Bars of Mast chocolate are a bit pricey, at $7.00 a piece, but you’re paying for organic, nuanced, high-quality chocolate and supporting chocolate farmers in Tanzania. Full disclosure: the Mast factory and shop is a few minutes away

what it's made of:

3

Mast’s Dark Chocolate bar is made of organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, and organic vanilla—that’s it. Cocoa beans are the seeds of the pod-like fruits of the Theobroma cacao tree, a type of evergreen.

Because this bar has a short and recognizable ingredient list and Mast provides information on the sourcing and production of them, I give the content of this chocolate 3 planets.

how it's made:

3

Mast sources its cocoa beans from Kokoa Kamili, an organic cocoa organization  in Tanzania that purchases wet cacao—the unroasted cacao beans—directly from Tanzanian cocoa farmers. The Theobroma tree, native to rainforest in South America, thrives in warm, shaded portions of rainforests with an even amount of rainfall per year, a concern with climate change. Kokoa Kamili buys cocoa beans, the beans surrounded by a sticky, white sap, at its factory and at buying stations in Tanzanian villages near facility. Because Kokoa Kamili purchases beans directly from farmers, with no middlemen, the organization pays cocoa farmers above market prices for their beans, strengthening the quality of the chocolate and the life of the farmers. Kokoa Kamili then ferments the beans in “locally constructed banana leaf, and rice-bag lined boxes.” After the beans ferment for six days, the beans are sun dried for five-to-seven days. From there, Kokoa Kamili sorts and packs the beans and ships them to chocolate makers around the world, including Mast Brothers.

Mast Brothers classifies its chocolate as “bean to bar,” as it roasts its cacao beans in-house in small batches. To begin its process, Mast states that a winnow expels the shells from the cacao nib, crushed beans and then a granite stone wheel processes the nibs for a few days, after which other ingredients are incorporated. After this process, Mast employees pour the chocolate mixture into molds, where it cools, sets, and packaged.

The Mast factory and café is located a few minutes from my house. Windows surround the factory portion of the facility, where customers can watch the cocoa beans transform from beans, to a paste, to silky, pourable chocolate, to a bittersweet bar. Transparency is built into Mast’s business model: in where it sources its products, labor practices, and the process of how the chocolate is created.

who makes it:

2.5

Mast Brothers is a family-owned business and it sources its organic cacao from organic farms in Tanzania. While the term, family-owned, can often cause a consumer to overlook a company’s faults, this does not seem to be the case for Mast Brothers. The farmers and workers in Tanzania who produce Mast’s are paid above Fair Trade prices; although, that metric still may not guarantee an adequate income. Because of that factor, and Mast not providing much information on its website about social justice causes it supports, I gave this category 2.5 planets.