Volunteering at Undone Chocolate

So I actually wrote this post more than a week ago but put off posting it because I was waiting for pictures.  But given the cataclysmic blizzard we’re expecting this weekend, I probably won’t get out to Union Kitchen on Sunday as planned, so pictures will have to wait.

So long story short: last Friday was amazing. Adam (founder) and Liz (chocolate maker extraordinaire) at Undone Chocolate showed me around their facilities at Union Kitchen, a D.C. incubator for food industry start-ups. What a cool place to work — there were folks all around us baking cupcakes, making pastries, smoking meat… I had no idea D.C. had such a strong  and vibrant entrepreneurial community.

But back to chocolate. Adam has a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry and originally studied the antioxidant properties of chocolate in the lab before he began making chocolate out of his tiny New York City apartment. In addition to being extremely talented and driven, he’s also a fantastically nice guy.

Adam agreed to let me volunteer in his chocolate kitchen in exchange for the opportunity to get some hands-on chocolate making experience. It’s amazing, interesting work, and Liz encouraged me to get involved in every step of production, from polishing and filling molds on the vibrating table to working with their massive tempering machine (55 gallon capacity!). I even got to help empty the enormous, 550 lb melanger, which looks something like this:

Conching machine or melanger
Chocolate melangeur (Photo credit: Mark Chamberlain via Rochester City Newspaper)

I know — yum, right?

On my first day, Liz sent me home with little baggies of chocolate samples from previous chocolate batches they had made… Nicaraguan 74%, Dominican 72%, wild Bolivian (don’t remember the % cocoa, but it was delicious)… my favorite was their extraordinary (highly addictive) spice chocolate flavored with cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne.

Undone Chocolate spice bar

My experience at Undone has been AWESOME, I can’t wait to go back. I’ve become such a fan of their chocolate too. Unlike most chocolate on the market, including high-end chocolate, Undone’s is made with only two-ingredients: cocoa and sugar (both organic). No emulsifiers, no added flavors like vanilla. Their chocolate is so intense, almost fruity, and yet so silky, without too much distracting sweetness.  That they can create chocolate like that with their limited small-batch equipment is so impressive.

I’m so bummed that I ate through all my Undone Chocolate samples right before the snow storm! How am I going to survive? I may head to Yes Organic while the streets are still drivable and pick up a few spice bars to tide me through.

For more on Undone Chocolate, check out this 2015 piece in the Washington Post. And to for the sake of transparency, I’m not getting paid a dime for this glowing review of their chocolate. It’s really that good.



One thought on “Volunteering at Undone Chocolate

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