OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The fermented, imported, cacao bean is a lowly looking thing, wrinkled and brown.
That’s how Maura Baker gets them from places like the Dominican Republic and Africa.
“First, I weigh out three kilograms of beans,” she explains holding a large bucket.
The miracle is what happens next.
“It’s a very special plant,” insists Baker. “And it’s a special treat.”
As a kid, she used to nibble at her mom’s unsweetened baking chocolate.
“It tastes horrible,” she laughs.
When she and her husband opened Zero Tolerance Coffee, they took a unique plunge, roasting their own beans for chocolate too.
“We work on roasting it to get those nuances (in flavor) out,” she says.
There aren’t many people out there taking the bean to bar approach.
Holding another bag, Baker says, “We have a mix of cocoa nib and chaff at this point.”
Maura doesn’t know anyone else in Oklahoma who does this, but she figures they’re coming.
“Chocolate,” as an industry, she argues, “is where coffee was 20 years ago.”
Over the course of a couple of hours, she shows us a process that actually takes much longer.
Machines winnow chocolate nibs from the chaff.
“The next step is to melange and conch.”
The nibs go through a stone grinder.
She adds sugar here.
Then several additional days of conching releases acetic acids from her brew.
“Up to three days,” she says.
Tempering her chocolate takes even more time, heating and cooling just right so her bars come out smooth and glossy.
“That’s what gives it the right snap.”
She wraps her bars by hand.
Her shop also makes a sauce for Mocha Lattes and hot cocoa.
Maura’s husband Roy is handy at making those.
Even the leftover bean husks make for a good, cold brew tea they mix with cream.
Bean to bar may take time.
It’s experimental science and chemistry.
But it transforms the plain to perfection, a truly sweet Zero Tolerance miracle.
Zero Tolerance Coffee is located at 913 West Britton Road in Oklahoma City.
‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.