Coffee and chocolate are not so far apart.
Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters owner Shannon Neffendorf started forming relationships with coffee growers years ago and developed a direct trade for coffee beans. Now he’s working on a similar system for chocolate.
For now, Five Mile Chocolate, which is based out of Neffendorf’s Davis Street Espresso, buys beans from California-based Uncommon Cacao, which works with farms to create a fair and sustainable cacao supply chain.
Culturally speaking, chocolate is about 10-15 years behind coffee, says Jessica Beeman of Five Mile Chocolate. “Bean-to-bar,” which starts with roasting cacao beans and several days later ends with a perfect bar of chocolate, is a bigger deal in America than other places, she says.
While there are a couple of chocolatiers in Oak Cliff, including bean-to-bar maker CocoAndré, “no one in Dallas has devoted a whole business to bean-to-bar,” Beeman says.
The bars take about five days to produce, starting with a roaster in the shop’s front window. Each bar contains 75 percent cacao, 25 percent organic sugar and nothing else. Flavors come forward depending on the beans and the roasting.
“We’re always tweaking that roast profile,” Beeman says.
Our neighborhood is home to three chocolatiers — CocoAndré and Dude Sweet Chocolate in Bishop Arts and Kate Weiser in Trinity Groves — and now a chocolate maker. They’ll all be participating in the three-day Dallas Chocolate Festival this month.
The festival, at the Fashion Institute Gallery in Downtown Sept. 7-9, is one of only two major chocolate festivals nationwide. It’s open to the public and includes demonstrations, workshops and samples.
Five Mile Chocolate
Ambience: Coffee shop
Price: $8 per bar
Hours: 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
Address: Davis Street Espresso, 819 W. Davis St.