Monsoon Chocolate Factory & Cafe, located at 234 E. 22nd St., is a local hot spot for chocolate lovers and chocolate experts. The recipients of national recognition, by 2019, Monsoon Chocolate had won 16 awards.
Adam Krantz, founder and head chocolatier of Monsoon Chocolate, started his business in the summer of 2017 after years of working in the craft chocolate industry. At Monsoon, Krantz takes part in the chocolate manufacturing process and conceptional work along with a small team of six people.
Krantz was inspired to relocate to Tucson to work with native ingredients and local food sheds, the sites that produce food for a certain population. Krantz started his journey as part of the bean-to-bar chocolate movement which he considered himself lucky to be a part of.
“We believe that the chocolate we make is a collaboration with the farm-workers,” Krantz said. “We’re working with indigenous farmers all over the world, which we view as a real business partnership.”
Despite the struggles brought upon by the pandemic, Monsoon Chocolate has been able to successfully transition to selling online.
“We’ve been really fortunate that the demand for our products have always been pretty high, so we’ve never had to sell online because we would always sell out of everything locally,” Krantz said. “With the pandemic, we had to ship our entire business to the internet, and we’re fortunate that we could do that.”
Monsoon Chocolate has a physical location, where customers can get their orders at a pickup window, as well as a website, where they ship orders nationwide. Although beverages and pastries were discontinued because of the pandemic, Krantz is in the process of bringing those items back. The business has had pivoted over the summertime because the heat makes shipping chocolate impossible, according to Krantz.
Even though the team at Monsoon only works with a few ingredients, making the chocolate is still a lengthy and complex process. Krantz considers chocolate the most challenging ingredient to work with.
“Once we have the cocoa beans, we go through a series of manufacturing techniques. We take the beans. We sort them by hand, then we roast them to develop flavors,” Krantz said. “Then, we crack the bean open, and then, we remove the husk paper on the outside of the bean. And then, we basically just refine it and grind it through a series of machines until it grinds to such a fine particle size that you can't perceive the texture.”
After these steps, the chocolatiers will add a few more ingredients to create the final chocolate bar. For example, they'll add sugar, cocoa butter and milk powder to make their milk chocolate bars. When the manufacturing process is done, the team pours out giant blocks of chocolate. Then, they age them for a minimum of 30 days. Afterward, the blocks are melted for tempering, a heating and cooling process that encourages crystallization.
Krantz explains that every chocolate bar has a unique profile. For instance, one bar could be a rich, dark chocolate and another a fruity flavor. Flavors depend on where the cocoa beans originated from.
Athene Kline, executive pastry chef and chocolatier at Monsoon Chocolate, typically works Monday through Friday for 40 or more hours a week. Kline explains that the chocolate industry tends to be seasonal, so they’re busy from December all the way up until Mother’s Day.
“I’m involved in and oversee production of bonbons, pastries, confections, etc.,” Kline said via email. “This includes casting bonbon shells, making caramels and ganaches from scratch, piping said fillings into bonbon cavities, enrobing truffles and snacks, and developing new products.”
Jamie Woodard is Monsoon Chocolate’s decor artist and is responsible for the aesthetic appearance of the chocolate, according to Kline. Kline works closely with Woodard and Krantz when brainstorming new designs and developing production schedules.
Many aspects of Monsoon's brand were influenced by the area. Monsoon season came to mind when Krantz was developing his business's name because of the relief the rain brings after a dry and excruciating summer. Monsoon Chocolate’s packaging, which is heavily inspired by the imagery of southwestern Arizona, was designed by Nika Kaiser, a University of Arizona theatre, film and television instructor.
Monsoon Chocolate is open for in-person pickup orders and online orders. Customers can order from their website and keep up with the chocolatiers and their work on Monsoon's Instagram, @monsoonchocolate.
Monsoon Chocolate is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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