Chocolate lovers will rejoice in the "bean-to-bar" movement in Japan recently as there is a number of chocolate shops figured high on my agenda. I am no chocolate expert and I cannot rate which one is the best since I had not try the exact same items from each store. But first, let me share about Minimal Bean to Bar, the first shop that championed the bean to bar concept since 2014 in Yoyogi-Hachiman.
Like the name suggest, the tiny space upholds a very minimalistic design with a bar table to sip some delicious chocolate drink. The beans are sourced from Tanzania, Vietnam, Columbia, Honduras, etc and they undergo a tedious process from roasting, winnowing to molding and packing. Samples of the chocolate bars are available and the date of production is labeled on each pack. Don't expect the bars to be as cheap as those from supermarkets as there are afterall, hand-made chocolates from scratch. But I think it is still worth the occasional splurge as they taste very different from brands like Cadbury, Lindt or even more high end brands like Godiva. The bars are clean and sharp in the flavors they represent.
The minimalistic menu only has ice creams and beverages but you can be highly assured of the quality here. The Hot Chocolate was freshly concocted with the chocolatier's choice of bar, which happened to be a citrus one for me. The drink was unbelievably intense and rich, yet so soothing that it has a calming effect on my mind. It wasn't achingly sweet nor creamy; just the taste of chocolate with cacao nibs for some lovely textural play. The citrus notes only emerged from the aroma and not the taste. And this turned out to be my favourite after sipping the hot chocolate from all three places.
And if you are game to try something unique and exotic, get the cacao pulp juice. The juice is extracted from the thin layer of white pulp around the cacao seeds. In fact, I learnt that it actually takes 25 cacao fruits (about one pineapple) to produce one quart of juice.
No wonder one small shot cost around ¥400! It tastes exactly like soursop juice to me, very refreshing and fruity indeed. But I think I would stick to my hot chocolate.
Minimal Bean to Bar Chocolate
Tokyo 151-0063, Shibuya ku Tomigaya 2-1-9
Closed on Monday (Closed on Tues if Monday is a holiday)