Handmade in Woodstock, Illinois – Ethereal pride themselves being different and wanting to include their customers on their chocolate journey with them.
With the name ‘Ethereal’, in other words; heavenly, delicate and refined, this is certainly represented in the chocolate they produce. They have spent time making authentic relationships with farmers based mainly in Central and South America, and so source the majority of their beans from these locations to make the good quality chocolate they make today. By roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding and tempering the beans in-house for hours, this helps them achieve the distinctive flavour present in all their chocolate.
Producing a range of confections, such as truffles and chocolates which they sell in their shop in Woodstock, we are lucky enough to have the pleasure of adding a selection of their single origin chocolate bars to our collection here at Cocoa Runners. We had the chance to catch up with the makers themselves to ask some questions..
What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
Chocolate sucks you in. You start off thinking you are just going to make a few truffles, but then suddenly you are making bars, buying equipment and then roasting your own beans, all of your clothes have chocolate on them and people start wondering why you smell like a brownie all the time. We loved chocolate from the beginning, but it grew into something that neither of us expected. Food and cooking is our background, but we took detours through careers in graphics design (Mary) and interior design (Sara) first!
What mission have you set for making craft chocolate?
We have a philosophy about the central place food should have in our lives and bringing people together through food. This philosophy drives us and we don’t cut corners. We do things because they are hard, because no one else wants to do them that way. Our methods aren’t also the fastest or the cheapest, but they make everything we do shine with taste and creativity. We take chocolate back to a period when people didn’t move quite so quickly and had the time to savor life, when food itself was an experience. It shows in our cafe when you watch your barista cut a fresh peach to muddle into your cocktail or when you watch your chocolatiers dip the truffle you’re about to taste. A lot of people have ideas. Few people act on them and make them reality. We live what we love and share that with as many people as will listen and taste. That’s a rare commodity in this fast paced, hyper connected, mass produced world.
Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
Our primary focus is getting more exposure and getting our bars with the hands of more customers. We are still small and the word is still getting out! New bars/beans just come naturally. You can’t stop us!
How did you source your beans?
Bean sourcing is difficult and there are no guarantees; there are many, many co-ops, plantations and small producers. It takes a lot of work to build a relationship and a lot of quality control to assure that the beans are up to our standards. In addition, we put our money where our values are. We work with producers in whom we have confidence in terms of 100% organic ingredients and fair treatment / pay for all of their employees and farmers.
What is your favourite food and wine?
The best foods are ones that we can pull fresh from the garden and throw together in a warm summer night. Caprese salad is a special favorite. We love making our own food! Wine. Red Zinfandel. We don’t have a winery (yet).