Friday, January 18, 2013

Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee

Mast Brothers Chocolate - Stumptown CoffeeMast Brothers Stumptown Coffee 74%

It’s easy to dismiss this bar as one of the flash-in-the pan intersections of hipsterism. Mast Brothers are bearded bean-to-bar chocolate makers based in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and part of the trend of micro-producers of formerly mass-marketed products. This bar mixes their carefully sourced (but unnamed) beans with coffee beans from the famed Portland, OR coffee roasters, Stumptown (they also have a Manhattan location).

I admit that I do love very good coffee, though I also drink the mediocre stuff rather happily. (Lately I’ve been indulging in a weekly cappuccino made with Verve beans served up by the excellent baristas at Short Cake at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles.)

I want a chocolate bar that evokes all the pleasures of a well made espresso shot in a portable solid - mix the coffee with chocolate instead of hot frothed milk. Both contain strong akaloids and bitter tannins but the cocoa butter might give a slower release to those flavors than hot water.

One of the distinguishing features of Mast Brothers bars is the packaging. They’re wrapped in distinctive papers, this one with an appropriately evocative deep red with black line art of a vintage motorcycle. Inside the thick paper wrapper, which is sealed on the back with a large label, it’s also wrapped in a good quality gold foil.

Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee

The bar was nicely tempered. I know that working with other inclusions that also have oils in them can be problematic (sometimes I note a hint of bloom around nuts in dark bars). The look of the bar is interesting, it’s not completely smooth and this is accurate to the actual texture of the chocolate itself. It looks a little lumpy (though that could just be the artisan style of the bar molds), but I found it gritty.

Mast Brothers Stumptown Coffee

The bar is exceptionally dark looking, and the flavor matches. The coffee notes are bold: smoky with aspects of toffee, molasses and oak. I can’t really tell where the coffee stops and the chocolate starts, but the flavors I thought were from the cacao were a little more green. Some olive and dried cherries (with the accompanying tartness) with another little note of lemon zest. The melt is not quite smooth, I’ve mentioned the grittiness already, I found this in other Mast Brothers bars (I’ve never reviewed them before). The finish is a bit dry, but not chalky.

Overall, it’s not my ideal cup of coffee. I will say that the coffee is bold and stands out from the chocolate without being too sweet nor too bitter. I’ll probably finish the bar (though I can’t eat it late in the day because it is actually caffeinated), but I don’t think I’m going to buy another. I’d say as far as bean to batch bars married with single origin roasters go, I’m still the most fond of the Askinosie and Intelligentsia marriage.

The ingredient list is simple and short: cacao, cane sugar and coffee beans. No emulsifiers and no vanilla. There’s no statement about nuts, gluten or dairy on the wrapper.

Note: Eagranie of The Well Tempered Chocolatier also reviewed this bar last year, but hers was a different iteration, which contained more whole beans. For more about Mast Brothers, check out this 2009 NY Times article about Brooklyn food producers.

Related Candies

  1. Feodora Mocca’s Dark and Milk
  2. Starbucks Dark Chocolate with Via Ready Brew Bar
  3. Askinosie Intelligentsia Coffee Bar
  4. Ritter Sport Espresso
  5. Sarotti Scho-Ka-Kola
  6. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  7. Java Twix
  8. Pocket Coffee

Name: Stumptown Coffee
Brand: Mast Brothers Chocolate
Place Purchased: The Meadow (New York City)
Price: $9.50
Size: 2.5 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Caffeinated, Chocolate, Coffee, Ethically Sourced, Single Origin, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:30 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewCaffeinatedChocolateCoffeeEthically SourcedSingle Origin7-Worth ItUnited States

  1. All I can think when I look at this is that it would make a great hot chocolate.

    Comment by April C on 1/18/13 at 2:18 pm #
  2. According to the guys at C-Spot who are all over it this bar uses chocolate beans from Madagascar. They liked it less than you did, calling it “survival rations” and a re-do of an earlier Mast Brother coffee bar: “Haphazard construction / technique add to the woes. The Bros calling it a day & sleeping on it while interns try their hand at making student mistakes”

    They totoally agree with you on Askinosie Intelligentsia saying “Like close friends, this bar engages in having a conversation with itself over coffee & cocoa. Just smarts with good taste.” (

    I knew you knew candy Cybele but now I know you know real chocolate too.

    Comment by Jason on 1/19/13 at 8:59 am #
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