From Bean to Bar at Fine & Raw

Step behind the scenes of Fine & Raw, the sweetest addition to the FP Love Shop.

Some days at the office are just better than others. Take, for instance, last Wednesday morning, when I found myself standing on a deceptively sunny Bushwick street searching out the storefront of Free People Love Shop fave Fine & Raw. Spying my destination, I came in from the cold and was instantly ensconced in the warm, deliciously inviting scent of…chocolate. Raw chocolate, to be exact. Within minutes of meeting my hosts for the day, a not-too-sweet (i.e. perfect) mocha was placed in my hand and the January freeze lifted from my shoulders. Pure magic, I tell ya. Housed in a converted warehouse, the beautiful space occupied by Fine & Raw houses not only their café and retail space, but their entire operation, too. With exposed brick and a rotating roster of art adorning the walls, the space itself is indeed both fine and raw, exemplifying the qualities of the chocolate itself.

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What sets this chocolate apart from the rest? Fine & Raw chocolate is a bean-to-bar operation. Meaning that, unlike many chocolate makers who purchase wholesale chocolate and melt it down, Fine & Raw has complete control over their production, from start to finish. From the sourcing, shelling and roasting of their beans to processing, mixing and pouring the bars. Because of this unique, hand-touched element, it takes upwards of five days to make a batch. It’s like farm-to-table, but for dessert.

Founded by Daniel Sklaar, who describes raw chocolate as “a celebration of chocolate,” Fine & Raw quickly outgrew its original home in his Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft, eventually landing in their current location. A step behind the scenes quickly reveals the passion and love poured into every bar of chocolate and sweet treat produced by Fine & Raw.

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Made from the finest shade-grown cacao beans, the raw, whole beans are delivered in gigantic burlap sacks (similar to what you’ve seen coffee beans housed in) stacked onto palettes and swung through the large front window of the storefront. Before they can be made into chocolate, the beans must be sorted and the cacao nibs housed inside every bean must be freed. What was once an extremely time-consuming task, completed by hand, is now sped up just a bit with the help of an interesting-looking machine sitting not far off. This is the actual prototype cacao bean sheller created by a DC-based inventor.  A rather cool bragging right for Fine & Raw. Once shelled (the shells are shipped out and recycled as mulch), the nibs are roasted according to their eventual destination. Similar to coffee beans, different roasting times will produce different results. From there the nibs are loaded into turbines and processed at a low temperature to preserve the nutritional value and ‘superfood’ status of the raw product.

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Walking through the hive of activity, it’s incredible to think that the bars being sold in the front of the space were created right here. The beans sorted by hand, the liquid chocolate poured by hand, the bars wrapped by hand. Every individual piece, exceptionally cared for, infused with love, wrapped in gold foil as if each and every one is your golden ticket. As Valentine’s Day approaches, it seems only fitting that Fine & Raw chocolates now sit, awaiting you, in our Love Shop. What better gift to give the one you love — or even yourself – than sweet, nourishing, connecting, warming, loving chocolate? Check out our full, exclusive collection here and be sure to stop in to Fine & Raw the next time you’re in Bushwick for a mocha and a little chocolate love.

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P.S. The chocolate dessert you should probably make!

Check out our full selection of gift shop faves

Visit Fine & Raw online and follow them on Instagram

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