Anna Davies and Robbie Stout

Anna Davies and Robbie Stout | Ritual Chocolate

Not satisfied with the chocolate available to them, Anna and Robbie took chocolate making into their own hands. Focused on expressing local terroir of the beans, Anna and Robbie have become "experts in chocolate processing", letting the natural flavors of the cacao shine through rather than creating elaborate recipes or middling with the "science" of chocolate. By adding nothing more than some sugar to most of their creations, they succeed in crafting some of the purest and most flavorful chocolate products we have had the joy of tasting.

 

What Inspired You To Start Your Company?

Bad Chocolate… Just kidding. But kind of. We were budding foodies and loved the wine, cheese, coffee and some other foods that we were buying but we didn’t love the chocolate that was available to us, even though we loved chocolate. So we spent several years exploring what the concept of “fine chocolate” meant and took a direction we felt would result in the best chocolate possible.

 

Tell us about your products.

Most of our chocolate is made up of just two ingredients: cacao and cane sugar. Our focus is on single origin dark chocolate. We choose to highlight the flavors that are a result of the terroir of the origins from which we buy. We like to say that our specialty is in finding good cacao and taking it through the best process possible—rather than being experts in recipe creation and food science, we are experts in chocolate processing. Our single origin bars are our most sophisticated products, and our Mid Mountain blend is amazing too. The Nib Bar, Novo Coffee, and Fleur de Sel bars are all great and taste good not just because of the added flavors, but because of the great chocolate that they’re made with.

 

What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?

For us, small batch and artisan (and craft) mean that we are hands-on with the whole process from start to finish. This literally also means that we make individual batches. All of the extremely large chocolate manufacturers actually do continuous processing, which means ingredients are flowing in and finished product is flowing out, continuously (including the roasting). At the moment we make 4 250lb batches simultaneously each week (not every week though). That’s a lot of chocolate, but we are a tiny, tiny, chocolate producer with just one person responsible for making all the chocolate and several other employees responsible for molding and wrapping.

 

What is your favorite small-batch treat?

Chocolate. Coffee (is that a treat?). Beer. Whisky. And Wine.

 

What Drew You To Food?

We were drawn to the food industry by our pure enjoyment of it. We love the idea of terroir. WE love making small batches and seeing the fruits of our labor—which is extremely good chocolate. We also eat a lot because we are extremely active (road cycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, skiing, snowboarding EVERYDAY). Because of all the food we were eating, we became obsessed with the quality of it. So making chocolate was just an extension of our respect for good quality food that stemmed from our love of it.

 

Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?

A lot of inspiration comes from our customers and retailers. There’s nothing better than seeing the enjoyment that people experience as a result of our years of hard work and effort. If we were just doing this for the money, we would have quit long ago (we ain’t gettin' rich any time soon), so seeing the enjoyment people experience is a big perk for us.

 

What Products Are You Working On Now?

We’re working on two new origins at the moment as well as a couple inclusion bars. We also have a bourbon barrel aged chocolate in the works, but of course that takes time (thus the aged title).

 

Do You Have a Favorite Product?

PG Tips. Pink Elephant Coffee.

 

Latest Ingredient Obsession?

Vanilla

 

What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?

Macaroni and cheese (with real cheese) with broccoli and grilled chicken. As a bonus, I had an Irish Red Ale on cask too.

 

What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?

Ryland Stout. He was Robbie's brother’s son who died from a brain tumor at the age of 3. His favorite food was our chocolate before he passed away. It helped get him through the endless hospital visits. He’d really love our new origins right now (his favorite was our discontinued Costa Rica bar).

 

What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?

Be original. Be resilient. If you’re going through hell, keep going.

 

What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?

Leopold Brothers in Denver is amazing. High West Distillery is amazing in a different way. I really admire any winery that grows their own grapes on their own property with their own equipment, it’s just such a huge, expensive feat, especially if it’s done well.

 

If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?

Curry, but only if it was the best curry ever.

 

Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?

Many! Just need great food with great company.

 

What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?

Mountain biking. Road cycling. Exploring the natural world. Drinking coffee on the couch, reading the Sunday NY Times.

 

What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?

Anna: Múm, David Bowie, The Libertines, Joy Division

Robbie: Currently listening to a playlist of early ‘90s Black Metal (Satyricon, Emperor, Windir, Burzum, Bathory, Falkenbach).

 

What is your favorite recipe to make with your Mid Mountain Blend?

S’Mores with homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallow.

 

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