Fruition Chocolate was founded in 2011 by Bryan Graham and is based in Woodstock, USA. The company is known for stone-grinding cocoa beans as a means, Bryan says, of accentuating their inherent flavor. Fruition Chocolate won the gold medal for “Best in Competition” at the 2016 International Chocolate Awards. In this episode, Bryan tells us about his pastry chef training, the story behind the Corazon de Dahlia bar and how the proceeds help children in Peru, and about recreating flavors in chocolate that he loved in his youth.

Please join us in tasting the Corazon de Dahlia Milk Chocolate Quinoa Crunch bar. Learn more at theslowmelt.com. For more information on Fruition, head to their website (www.tastefruition.com), and use code “slowmelt” for a 15% discount from now until October 15, 2017. You can also purchase an exclusive bar bundle, including all nine bars featured in the Makers Series, at Chocolopolis.com (in the U.S.; use code “slowmelt” for a 15% discount), and find most of the bars in a subscription box by BeanBarYou.com.au (in Australia).

This episode is brought to you with the kind support of these sponsors:

  • Rottar Grinders: Chocolate grinders designed and built by a chocolate maker in the USA. Learn more at www.rottar.com.

  • Blue Apron: $30 off your first order with free shipping at blueapron.com/chocolate.

  • Audible: Get a free audiobook of your choice and free 30-day trial at www.audibletrial.com/chocolate.

Soundtrack: "Soldier" by The Slackers. Hear more at theslackers.com.

United States


00:00:00the slow melt is sponsored in part by Kolchak Allah the award-winning school for chocolate makers and chocolate tears you'll learn from professional instructors Master techniques and create mouth-watering recipes while interacting with your classmates and tutors all online for more information visit Nicole Chocolat. Com
00:00:38welcome to the slow Mount Baker series on Semoran safety and today I'm speaking with Brian Graham the founder of Jewish and chocolate face in the United States in Woodstock New York hi Brian thank you you're welcome Beyond
00:01:03the way you do
00:01:07to be honest I grew up eating a lot of sweets and candies nothing nothing on the finer end of things but food was always such a big part of my life I I would spend weekends on my on my grandmother's dairy farm where we would like to pick produce in like she taught me how to bake and all I ever wanted to do is work with food and somehow there's there's a very long story that we can get into I decided to focus on chocolate but it but it took you know a couple decades to to get to that point that was a student at the CIA The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York format of experience before that I was I was working at a fine dining restaurant in Woodstock New York called The Bear Cafe I started out there when I was 15 as an assistant to the pastry chef and then
00:02:07when I was 18 so it's all I really been doing from a pretty young age but I got to a certain point I think when I was 25 or 26 that I wanted to get a really formal education and because the CIA is right in our backyard and it's a it's a place that I'd always wanted to go to but never really could afford it you know I finally got to the point where
00:02:29becoming a student there was a viable option so around the time I was 25 or 26 I enrolled and you knows the greatest two years of my life and during that time am I took a chocolate and Confections class and that's where I first got exposed to like making find Confections and chocolates and threw that I also started you know getting the bug to to learn about chocolate making so that's that's kind of where it all started in 2006 or 2007 I wanted to learn about the process of making chocolate which isn't really something that was covered in the chocolate class at the CIA but I sort of pestered the instructor and I wanted to learn more and he turn me on to some like really dense technical manuals so I started reading it and then I discovered chocolate alchemy.com and I you know got my first little my lunch or and I I was you know roasting cocoa bean
00:03:29my my apartment at home and just essentially making really really bad chocolate but you know at the time just learning the process and you know learning what I like and what I didn't like and it sort of snowballed from there and I was I was just doing it as a hobby at first and after a few years after I graduated from the CIA I also worked there for a couple years and all of the time I sort of knew that I wanted to do something and chocolate and then around 2010 my wife and I both quit our jobs and took some time off because we knew you were going to start the business and we just wanted some time to work on the business plan travel we did A5 month road trip across the United States and went backpacking in New Zealand and you know trying to figure out what fruition ultimately would become for add a new name before it had you know a location and
00:04:25new OB chocolate know how exactly would manifest exactly what I told a lot and we were trying to find the right place in America to settle down we started thinking about owning a chocolate shop and and what could make it special and we did we didn't want to be like every other chocolate shop out there with a big case of you know what's a thousand different flavors of bonbons we decided that what would make us special as we would make all of our own chocolate and then turn that chocolate into Confections and bonbons from the beginning I've always looked at myself as more of a chocolate here who just happens to make their own chocolate and once we got started with fruition it almost became more about the chocolate itself and the confectionery stuff you know it became a side-note almost
00:05:22interesting because we can see how that falls into the chocolate because the inclusions that you offer there so wide-ranging from corn to chew its extraordinary to look at the way they all come together where you Source your beans and wanted to be you know Brian Graham chocolate syrup or something like that at the word fruition just popped into my head one day I think we were walking down the street in Portland Oregon and I thought like that's a good strong word let's use that
00:06:12without really thinking about the meaning very much until until later and then because we started thinking about it more fruition means that you know the realization of a dream so you know we're finally realizing the this dream that we had for a long time to start a chocolate business and for wishing means bearing fruit and you know Cook-Out of course being a fruit so so it's starting to make sense but but it started to make sense only after we decided on the name
00:06:45how to find the company you are too I mentioned before that we we took a road trip and we were working on the business plan on trying to figure out like where we wanted to start this business and after this whole you know 5 month trip we wound up back home in Woodstock which is home for myself and home for my life and we didn't really have a good idea of where we wanted to be so we thought what the hell let's just find a place and start making chocolate so we found this little place that used to be in ice cream join and and burger place that I used to go to when I was in high school and we started the business there because it was available and it was cheap we never intended on having a retail store because we're in a very rural area we thought our business was going to be mostly wholesale and online so it didn't really matter where we made the chocolate
00:07:45so so we got started you know hardly any money you know we blew it on that that long trip all of our savings but we we started with essentially nothing you know are our meager savings and you know a small loan from from family then. Started there in the past five and a half years we've grown to be you know seven employees were making about a ton of chocolate a month which I would say is like you know we're certainly not the smallest but we certainly not the biggest crap chocolate maker and are our sales are split about it's about 50% wholesale and then the other 50% of split between retail and are two stores not online sales so it's a it's a nice mix I gotta ask that quite frequently and the answer that I always have is yeah of course I want to get bigger I want I want to get as big as we possibly can so long as we can maintain or or exceed the claw
00:08:45what are you doing we're producing right now you know I'm fairly confident that we can become bigger and make even better chocolate but you know we we have no dreams of becoming like you know a really large industrial-type chocolate maker we take pride in it and it being handmade on having human beings like involved in the process of making chocolate
00:09:09really useful in trying to talk about who you are but I would but I would call us a crab chocolate maker how I would Define that I don't know I mean that that's one of the things that I know you've talked about a lot is you know that there's no set definition of what that is but the way I look at it is he now we don't we don't pour cocoa beans into one end of a system and then out the other end of that system comes fully package wrapped chocolate bars there's a person there there's a a Craftsman Norcross woman that you know every step of the way so we have systems in place where maybe we're roasting a particular bean and we have we have a good idea of what that Rose profile is so you know you could just set a timer and walk away but instead of doing that we are there along the way and we're smelling and we're listening to it we're tasting it so it may be a few minutes more and maybe a few minutes less roasting and this at the same goes for you know every one of those processes Especial
00:10:09punching where we do have set times and temperatures in an air flow in all of that stuff but you know we we may tweak it from batch two batch counting as one of the last steps in the chocolate manufacturing what it's doing is just making sure all of those little particles of cocoa and sugar and maybe milk powder if it's milk chocolate are you know smooth out evenly coated with cocoa butter it's also making sure that actually I need any remaining moisture evaporates out and it's also pulling out some volatile compounds acidity and then some astringency where do you primarily
00:10:46so we will use a lot of Cacao from the Dominican Republic were using a lot of beans from the Coco Caribe Cooperative it's just a good solid cacao you know it's fruity it's a bit slow. Floral to citic and you know sometimes when we roast a little bit darker it's got like a good base chocolate flavor so that's that's one that we use in a lot of different bars Blended bars in flavored bars we use that one a lot we also use a lot of beans from Peru Costa Rica Bolivia Ecuador mostly Central South America and the Caribbean right now
00:11:22your chocolate isn't certified can you explain why use a lot of certified organic cacao and an all of the cane sugar that we use is certified organic but we haven't gone the extra stuff and had our facility certified there are some things that we use that aren't certified organic but yeah because we know where those beans are coming from and we know that they're grown to or exceeding Organic certification standards we are we're happy to use them anyway so just so long as we know where they're coming from we're okay with that and then we explain that to our customers generally even if they're looking for something that Strictly Organic get behind it too
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00:12:49I'd love for you to talk a little bit about the process around how you develop your logo and particular way of expressing who you are full of chocolate bars that you know hours would jump off the shelf and you know you see it from across the room say what is that and then you'd be drawn to it and you know what you'd want to walk up to you and then you pick it up and see what it was so it's pretty bold you know there's some of their some bright colors not too many colors so you can you can quickly identify which one of our bars is which by just which color is jumping out of you it is very reachable just wait wait a few months or a year and you'll probably see something entirely different because we're always changing and evolving
00:13:50what do you wish chocolate lovers better understood about chocolate and chocolate making a lot of work that goes into it and then also that you know chocolate with food it's not a candy and then the Agricultural Product and you can dive into it as much as you want a staff in Origins and percentages and you know it from different makers and everything is going to be completely different but the way I look at chocolate is it should be fun I mean you know we all focus on making you know really extraordinary chocolate but you know I never want to let it get out of my grasp that like it it's supposed to be fun it's chocolate fun connection is Forge we celebrate with chocolate and put your new dad and I I wondered if anything about like seeing your daughter
00:14:50change the way you look at chocolate or you create your bars actions that I make our sort of you know they're not really crazy inventive new flavors are a lot of it is but I sort of call like refine simplicity so will so will take like really classic flavor combinations and find ways to like reinterpret and make it new and that's that's generally how I look at confectionery work on the other hand of course like we did we do some some really interesting flavors and you know if if I could make you know the perfect while there is there is no perfect snicker bars are there than a Snickers bar but it will take those those flavors and sort of Vino reinvented into something a little bit different
00:15:41recognized for it in a number of different Awards you know you are real and you know I hope my daughter gets to feel the same way about about that she she's spent a lot of time living and volunteering and in Peru in Cusco up in the Andes I think the first time she was there she was 18 and she was living with a with a host family and doing some volunteer work in teaching and she she wound up working on a lot of projects and then she and her host mother decided
00:16:41they wanted to start their own project so they started a small Community Development Center about 30 30 minutes outside of Cusco in a little town called Sia they welcome kids every day there's homework help and a bunch of service is available to them and that projects now and it's 60 year I've been through many times and absolutely loved it there in a falling in love with the the people and in the Andes and and we wanted some way to to combine her efforts in the nonprofit with with the chocolate businesses efforts so so we develop the chocolate bar it's basically a fundraiser we only made one batch they're only 3500 bars available and all of the proceeds are going directly to Corazon de Thalia
00:17:40the aroma of about to start it says it's a 58% dark milk chocolate and we kind of wanted to throw a bunch of proving flavors at it in a way that makes sense though the first flavor aside from the milk chocolate is there's a little bit of Peace go in it so in the same way that we use bourbon to flavor our Hudson Valley bourbon bar we Infuse the Nets with Pisco Pisco Sour grape Brandy Pisco sours I think it's like the national drink of Peru it's it's one of the greatest cocktails out there so there's a slight hint of Pisco in the in the cacao and then we make it into a 58% dark milk chocolate there is puffed quinoa in it and then lime
00:18:40best salt for Mara's in Peru and maracuya passion fruit
00:18:48I'm taking my first sight
00:18:51it's all those things how
00:18:56how do you work on proportion
00:18:59how do you spell
00:19:02it's just a lot of trial-and-error it's funny I taste these things in my head well before we ever make them so I'm thinking about the the flavor combinations and how they would go together and I decided that these are the flavors they were going to use because it makes sense to me but it's really not until we have all of the components and we put it together and we temper and mold a bar that we actually get to taste it you know it it worked out really well I'm super happy with this bar figuring out the right proportion of of passion fruit and salt and lime that was that was a little bit more difficult because passion fruit is such a dominant flavor but that's kind of nice because when it hits your tongue you get that giant burst of the tartness of the passion fruit but it disappears almost immediately and then you got the salt in the lime in the chocolate starts to melt
00:20:06release of all these flavors
00:20:10since my mouth is full well it was it was sort of an experiment because we're only selling this retail in our stores and through our online store because all of the proceeds are going to the snot profit and we didn't you know we didn't want to lose any of those potential dollars by selling it wholesale what's really great is there there are a few of our most valued wholesale customers who decided to carry it anyway and not take any markup from it so it's it's really it's really interesting something we haven't tried before so it's it's likely that this you know maybe a good way to
00:20:54think up and create delicious chocolates and also support a good cause so so I'm excited about it thank you what shift gears little bit what's your favorite bar your current favorite made by another maker or manufacturer is the De Maison Maru coconut milk bar
00:21:23after the big chocolate show in New York last year we we bought all of the remaining bars after the show I should back up and say that we we sell other makers products in our in our Woodstock store so we have a really nice curated library of other other chocolates in our store so we bought those bars for that purpose but
00:21:49I've been eating most of them now that I think I think that was really special because I absolutely love everything that Maru does and they're making this coconut milk bar that you know it's not just using coconut as a substitute for milk it's meant to be a flavor so it's just this burst of coconut I don't know how they do it but it's it's really one of my favorite bars right now
00:22:23to be honest I don't know because I don't know if I am qualified to give good advice only because even though we've grown and where you know where semi well-recognized in the craft Chocolate World I honestly still feel like we're making it up as we go along so I don't know literally everything you can find about chocolate taste everyone else is chocolate and then try to decide
00:22:53what kind of chocolate you like and and make that because
00:22:59the the chocolate that we make up fruition it's it's really chocolate that I won to eat myself and we we lucked out that other people have the same palette that I do I guess that I don't know that is such a humble answer coming from someone who won Best in Show at the International Chocolate Awards Foods truly be behind what you're making yourself no I don't I really don't I mean of course I taste everything I develop everything and I check in on on every batch and then takes everything the only chocolate of hours that I eat with any regularity is are 100% unsweetened chocolate
00:23:59makes chocolate and candy for a living but I don't I don't really like sweet things and I don't eat a lot of sweet things
00:24:10ever tried from you it's never been like sugar hit you over the head it's always something more interesting so thank you Brian you're welcome
00:24:30podcast listeners if you can learn more about fruition chocolate on their website taste fruition. Com and use the code slow melt to get a discount off any order we can also order the maker series tasting Pat featuring every bar will be tasting in the series exclusively through chocolopolis. Com check our website slow melt.com for all detailed dates of promotion and discount information to your shows on how to save the first chocolate by savoring and to understand why cheap chocolate comes at such a high price check out the slow melt episodes on our website or find us on iTunes and nearly every podcast platform it also find us on Twitter and Instagram at the slow melt
00:25:18before Mount Baker series is mixed and produced by Katie ranky with guidance from Shawn Corey Gamble and written and edited by me some Insanity with support from Sasha Woodruff are title tracks Soldier is written and performed by The Slackers please tell your friends consider giving us a review or donation and subscribe through your favorite podcast app chocolate and thanks for all your support

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