Crow & Moss craft bean-to-bar chocolate maker from Petoskey
Like many other businesses, Crow & Moss craft chocolate began in a basement.
One day, while driving home from work, owner Mike Davies, a professional baker was overcome by the desire to learn how to make craft chocolate. Over the next few months, he put together his initial set-up (a small coffee roaster, a Champion juicer for cracking and pre-refining, a Diamond melanger, a small tempering machine and a neon pink hair dryer for winnowing that he “borrowed” from his wife) and got to work.
It was a rabbit hole he never crawled back out of (his wife has since had to get a new hair dryer!). Mike remembers that it was a great starting point to micro roast and refine in his basement, filling the house with the smell of roasted cacao, and the ever-changing notes of cocoa liquor being slowly refined in the melanger. He found a 2,000 sqft space which was a former beverage company’s stomping grounds. By September 2019, he was ready to start learning how to make chocolate in 45kg batches.
First came the roasting experiments. Drawing on his coffee science knowledge, he together with his wife and sister began testing different roast profiles in his double convection ovens. He did about 20 trial runs, each in pairs of three with three different cacao origins and used the Goldilocks principle to guide them towards what they thought “most” people would find acceptable.
Just like coffee, they discovered that cacao could be channeled around extremes – too bright, too toasted, too astringent or too bland. They also discovered rounded flavor profiles that didn’t feel flat, whether a chocolate exhibited a negative flavor attribute or if it was just too loud and learned how to tone it down. In the end, the time/temperature combination they settled on was one of a low and slow disposition.
The interest in chocolate started 15 years ago when Mike was living in Seattle and working for a green building company. He read "The True History of Chocolate" and dreamt about chocolate. He tried to recreate the descriptions of the frothy drinking chocolate favored by the likes of Montezuma in Mesoamerica. Instead of pouring chocolate repeatedly from a height, he broke frothing pitchers trying to make it more and more decadent!
Today, Crow & Moss is making artisan chocolate in 100 pound batches in its 2,000 sq ft factory in Petoskey. Crow & Moss aims to bring out unique and true-to-bean flavor experiences to share with chocolate lovers throughout the Midwest.