Good Taste: Island-roasted coffee and Vineyard-made raw chocolate

Good Taste: Island-roasted coffee and Vineyard-made raw chocolate

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Ky Keenan, left, and Bennett Coffey selling their chocolate bars at the Down-Island Farmers' Market on June 28.

Chilmark Coffee Company

Todd Christy really loves a good cup of coffee. He can talk about flavor profiles and nuances in a cup of coffee in a way you’d expect from a sommelier in the grandest of restaurants. He is passionate and maybe obsessed with coffee.

Most mornings Mr. Christy enjoys a special brew from somewhere like Burundi, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, or Tanzania, around dawn before a long bike ride up-Island with his friend, Chris Fischer, of Beetlebung Farm. Mr. Christy admits that the early hour is sometimes daunting but, “Once you’re on the bike and you realize you’ve got the Island to yourself at 5 am, it’s just so worth it.”

Mr. Christy had been toying with various small business ideas for some time when one morning Mr. Fischer suggested he take his passion for caffeine to another level. “You should roast your own,” he said. Something clicked, and Mr. Christy ordered a coffee roaster that very day.

He immersed himself in everything he could learn about mélange roasting — the process of roasting the same coffee bean at different levels and combining them to create a unique brew every time. Mr. Christy began spending much of his three- to four-hour bike rides daydreaming about coffee.

This spring the Chilmark Coffee Company was launched. The roasting shed at Mr. Christy’s home in Chilmark is filled with Mason jars of coffee beans from exotic places in warmer climates. He only works with wholesalers who deal with organic, direct, or fair trade beans. “Coffee is the number-two traded commodity in the world [next to oil],” he explains. “It’s something that definitely makes an impact and it’s worth being considerate about that.” He also works strictly with seasonal beans. We don’t often think of coffee being in season, but like any fruit, the beans reach peak ripeness levels, and that’s what he is looking for.

Mr. Christy isn’t expending much energy on advertising, preferring to let the coffee do the talking. “I just want to make a really great product, and have fun with it. If you make a crappy product but sell it everywhere, it’s still just a crappy product,” he laments.

While Mr. Christy has created blends for every taste, like the Middle Road Medium, Full Moon decaf and Single Speed espresso (named in honor of Mr. Christy’s other passion, bicycling) he hopes that his coffee will trigger something in the average palate, like more discernment or appreciation. “Americans are so used to really heavy, dark brews, where the cooked aspect of the bean is all you can taste.” There is so much more to it, Mr. Christy insists.

He sees more time and devotion spent on food these days, and he’s happy to join the movement. “Something amazing is happening,” he says, “people care more about the process of what they’re consuming.”

On Wednesday evenings, all summer long, you’ll find Mr. Christy serving spectacular iced coffee at Cinema Circus at the Chilmark Community Center. Served in glass Mason jars, (because plastic cups would ruin the experience), Mr. Christy is using a Japanese method to brew his organic Costa Rican coffee with Tanzanian sweet pea berry-coffee ice cubes.

Pick up a bag of Chilmark Coffee at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark and at Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown and check out the Chilmark Coffee Company on Facebook for updates and information. Or, contact chilmarkcoffeeco@gmail.com; 508-560-1061.

Not Your Sugar Mama’s

Chocolate fiends rejoice! Bennett Coffey and Kyleen Keenan of West Tisbury recently introduced their uber-healthy, antioxidant-rich, raw chocolate bars. The chocolate is organic, delicious, laced with essential oils and super foods, and free of refined sugars.

“Without added sugar and dairy, raw chocolate is one of the highest antioxidant foods on the planet and the best food source of magnesium,” explains Ms. Coffey. Antioxidants boost the immune system and fight free radicals, which cause cancer, while magnesium, which can prevent muscle cramping, has been linked to improved heart function and increased energy.

Ms. Coffey, admittedly, was never much of a chocolate person but while in school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, two years ago, an alum of the program gave a lecture on the benefits of raw chocolate and passed out free samples. “They were delicious,” Ms. Coffey remembers, “and I actually felt different afterward.”

And so the experimentation process began. Ms. Coffey received positive feedback from the family and friends for whom she made raw chocolate sauce and treats, and decided she’d like to share the good news: that wishful thinking can come true; chocolate can be good for you.

After securing a kitchen space Ms. Coffey enlisted her friend, Ms. Keenan, to oversee the business aspect of producing and selling raw chocolate. The first step was deciding on a business name, Not Your Sugar Mama’s (NYSM), and then Ms. Keenan set out to spread the word and Ms. Coffey busied herself in the kitchen.

After determining a base formula, Ms. Coffey used trial and error to determine tasty combinations using super-foods like Spirulina and Maca and essential oils like lavender to soothe, peppermint to aid in digestion, and Skye Botanicals Aphrodite Love Potion to increase the libido.

When she’s not in the kitchen, a place she loves to be (“It’s a nice, meditative process”), Ms. Coffey teaches yoga. “It’s a good balance, teaching yoga and making chocolate, two things that really have the power to make people feel good,” she says.

Ms. Coffey is working on new flavors and is always open to suggestions. She’s received quite a few requests for a bar with nuts, but for now she is confident in offering a 100 percent allergy-free food, that she and her customers can feel completely comfortable with. “It’s all good,” she says, “literally.”

You can buy an NYSM raw chocolate bar in three flavors, Be Original, Be Cool, and Be Sexy, at Fiddlehead Farm in West Tisbury, Tisbury Farm Market, Morning Glory, Alley’s, and at the Down-Island Farmers’ market on Tuesdays. Check them out on the web at notyoursugarmamas.com to order online and learn more about their products.