Chocolatemaker Robbie Stout of Ritual Chocolate has a simple chocolate-making philosophy – by using the best equipment to process the best cacao beans, you’ll make the best chocolate.
“When I look at a competitor, I judge them based on their equipment and their bean sourcing,” Stout says. Ritual Chocolate purchases cacao beans from Ecuador, Peru, Belize and Madagascar to make single-origin and blended bean-to-bar chocolate. They also invest heavily in their equipment, both new and vintage, to find the best machines for each step of the chocolate-making process, from roasting and winnowing to conching and tempering. “Most American chocolate companies use all-in-one equipment.”
A year ago, Stout and partner Anna Davies moved from Denver to their new Park City location, purchasing their own equipment for the first time and increasing their production capacity by tenfold. Their oven, winnower, and grinders are all new. You can watch the refining process through a window from the café as liquid chocolate is poured into a large brown roll mill made in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Next, the chocolate is conched in a hundred-year-old concrete and granite conche pot made by U. Ammann in Langenthal, Switzerland. The four-pot longitudinal conche can hold 1,200 pounds of chocolate. The company that made it doesn’t exist anymore, so it’s like a chocolatemaker’s version of an old Auburn Speedster or Duesenberg Coupe.
Because they invest so heavily in their ingredients and machines, Ritual Chocolate has a rare precision in their chocolate-making, best showcased through simple dark chocolate bars that allow the terroir of each region to express itself as it does with fine wine. Although the single-origin bars and 2016 Good Food Award-winning Mid Mountain blend are Stout’s personal favorites, he’s made concessions to customers and created a few bars with inclusions like coffee, sea salt and cacao nibs.
Next time you see Ritual Chocolate on shelves you’ll notice a more colorful, contemporary new packaging designed by Modern8, with angular mountain motifs.”I want people to think of the mountains and enjoying the outdoors,” Stout says. “To reward themselves after a long day outside with great chocolate. It’s all about quality of life.”
At the café, they make their own brownies, cookies, granola along with hot and iced drinking chocolates. I downed my iced chocolate drink far too quickly – it’s a deliciously creamy blend of their Mid Mountain Blend and coconut milk. Yep, it’s vegan, just like all of Ritual’s chocolate bars, all of which you can sample at their Park City café.
Ritual Chocolate, 1105 Iron Horse Dr, Park City, UT 84060