What do Iorio’s Gelateria and Mindo Chocolate Makers have in common? Both appreciate the art of gourmet-dessert making; both use ~real~ ingredients, which means nothing artificial; and both teams are small, local businesses with global images. Though you may already be familiar with the Iorio’s team and our gelato-making mission, let us acquaint you with the Mindo Chocolate Makers of Dexter, Michigan!
In 2007, two Ann Arbor residents, Barbara and Jose, decided to leave the auto-repair shop that they owned together and move to Ecuador. The two established their home near the small town of Mindo and opened up an internet cafe. At the cafe, the pair started to serve locally-grown coffee and Barbara’s homemade brownies. These brownies were not only coveted by locals but also a hit among the tourists. Barbara soon discovered that there was not enough quality chocolate in Ecuador to meet the demand for her brownies. Instead of travelling from Michigan to Mindo with pounds of chocolate to make her brownies, Barbara decided to make her own chocolate in Ecuador. This was just the beginning.
Jose and Barbara then got into the art of processing chocolate. They teamed with local farmers and established facilities in Mindo to make this wonderful chocolate treat. This is how Jose and Barbara earned their name of the Mindo Chocolate Makers.
Luckily for us, Jose and Barbara took this local business global. In 2009, they opened Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter, Michigan. Since then, Jose and Barbara have taken their chocolate bars to dozens of retailers around the state--Iorio’s included! How do they make their chocolate bars so delicious?
In order to keep the bars wholesome and pure, Mindo Chocolate Makers use heirloom beans harvested from Aribba Nacional in Ecuador. The beans are harvested by local farmers, and Mindo ensures that they are paid more than the fair-trade price! Once the fruit and beans are harvested, they are fermented for 4-8 days. After fermentation, the cocoa beans are dried in the sun for 10-20 days and then roasted.
Once meticulously harvested, dried, fermented, and roasted, the beans are sent off to Dexter to be made into the chocolate bars that we at Iorio’s crave! Based on the flavor complex, the beans are sorted into different batches. These batches are ground down--a process that takes anywhere from 20-35 hours--to ensure the perfect consistency and flavor! Following the promise of pure chocolate, the only ingredient added to the grinding process is organic sugar, coming from evaporated cane juice. Once the perfect consistency has been achieved, the chocolate is tempered--or heated and cooled in a specific fashion. It can then be poured into the chocolate-bar mold. Each bar is hand-wrapped to complete the process of crafting the perfect chocolate bar.
To give an idea of the chocolate bars Mindo makes, here are some of the awesome flavors that we are currently selling in our Ann Arbor store: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Michigan Blueberry, and Michigan Cherry. Come by and check out them out! See for yourself what everyone is raving about.
And of course, a big thank you to Mindo for the delicious and wholesome chocolate treat!