The road to craft chocolate maker is often a strange one, and Undone founder Adam Kavalier is no exception.
Originally a biochemist, it was while undertaking graduate work on the flavonoids in the hop plants that Kavalier first became fascinated by another source of flavonoids: chocolate. Cacao is well-known to be high in antioxidants. Kavalier in particular was interested in the levels of epicatchin which is good for blood flow.
He and a friend Nat Bletter started experimenting with chocolate in their spare time. Bletter, an ethnobotanist, now lives in Hawaii and is also a chocolate maker in his own right. Together they tried making chocolate but also examining its chemical properties.
Kavalier continued his scientific career, undertaking a postdoc on cancer cells at Cornell. But his chocolate experiments started drawing more and more of his time and attention.
Eventually Adam couldn’t resist any longer, he knew what he really wanted was to become a chocolate maker.
After much experimentation, he and his wife founded Undone in December 2014. Washington’s first ever craft chocolate maker, the pair set up in the Union Kitchen. The 7,500 square-foot Union Kitchen warehouse is an incubator for food start-ups and helps to support and promote local food entrepreneurs.
His scientific background played a key role. He began not simply by thinking about taste, but the chemistry of chocolate: how it was fermented, its structure and the individual molecules. Adam applied a scientific approach to chocolate making. He researched and read everything he could, reached out to experts so as to learn all he could. Most important of all is the time he spent methodically experimenting, and like any good mad chocolate scientist, learning by trial and error.
Undone’s range is still small – Adam is nothing if not a perfectionist – and so far consists of just three origin bars. All of its beans are sourced straight from co-ops and producers by Direct Trade. Undone pays 3 times the Fairtrade premium for it cacao and says Kavalier ‘it is worth every penny’.