Chocolate, Roadhouse

Mindo: A Tale of Really Good Chocolate (Plus, an Evening of Chocolate and Cocktails)

Photo courtesy of Mindo Chocolate

Join us for an evening of chocolate and cocktail pairing on Monday, May 15. Together with special guests Mindo Chocolate and American Fifth Distillery, we’ve planned the sweetest event at the Roadhouse yet! Reserve your spot here. And in the meantime, here’s a little bit about Zingerman’s favorite, Mindo Chocolate.

For us chocolate lovers, the selection of handcrafted bean-to-bar chocolate these days is like a dream come true. How do we choose? While I am not against making it my goal in life to try them all, understanding where any bar of chocolate comes from will affect my overall experience of how it tastes.

Chocolate is not simply a candy. Small batch, high-quality chocolate is healthy, and offers the full, pure flavors of cocoa bean. Like with any of the food we offer at Zingerman’s, chocolate should not only come from really good ingredients, but it should tell a story. Mindo Chocolate is a delicious real-life fairy tale, one that connects people across two worlds.

Once upon a brownie…

It started with José Meza and Barbara Wilson, a local couple who retired from owning an auto shop in 2007. José missed his home country of Riobamba, Ecuador, and when he took Barbara there to visit, they instantly fell in love with its native beauty and bought land in Mindo, a misty town in the cloud forest of the Andes Mountains.

José and Barbara set up their castle in Mindo in the form of an internet café, and started selling world-class homemade brownies. As the demand for her brownies increased, and people asked for shipment around the world, Barbara found she had a hard time keeping up when she couldn’t find really good finished chocolate in Ecuador.

Barbara and José

Join us at the Roadhouse for our Decadent Chocolate and Divine Cocktails event, Monday, May 15.

Who needs gold when you can have chocolate?

There was no one selling magic beans that would turn into bars, either, so José and Barbara took matters into their own hands. Using a table-top juicer, they started spinning beans into rustic chocolate that they could use in their amazing brownies. Over time, word spread across the land about the homemade chocolate, so José and Barbara turned their attention to cacao processing. After finding farmers in Ecuador who were growing full-flavored, organically grown Nacional variety of cocoa beans, they set up a facility on the property in Mindo to continue making their treasured chocolate. Their café, El Quetzal de Mindo, is now a tour destination for chocolate enthusiasts and is like something out of a dreamy picture book.

El Quetzal Mindo making artisanal chocolate. Photo courtesy of Mindo Chocolate

“If you’re going to make craft chocolate, you have to start with great ingredients.”- Mindo Chocolate Makers

In 2009, José and Barbara opened Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter, Michigan, and their operations now span international waters. Their community includes anyone and everyone who enjoys their raw product as well as their finished, artisanal chocolate across 3,000 miles and two continents. While their reach is far and wide, they retain a small-business mentality, ever grateful for the flavorful, quality product they source from sustainable growers and suppliers who care about where food comes from.

Whether you are enjoying their Pure 67% Bar, their 77% Bar, or any of their heavenly flavor pairings made with carefully selected ingredients, Mindo chocolate boasts a silky creaminess that is simply exquisite. Their story and commitment to providing the best experience possible can be tasted in every bite of their chocolate. And as long as they continue making it, I know I can live happily ever after.

To experience Mindo chocolate for yourself, join us for our very first chocolate and cocktail pairing event at Zingerman’s Roadhouse on May 15th, Decadent Chocolate and Divine Cocktails: