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“Timeless Chocolate” Offers Chocolates Created with Only Cacao Beans & Sugarcane; From Procurement of the Beans, Roasting, to Chocolate, They Do It All
post : 2019.05.20 03:00
I unwrapped the paper from a piece of chocolate, and took a bite. My mouth was filled with the exploding aroma of cacao and just the right amount of bitterness. A wonderful and unique texture of the coarse crystals of the Shima Zarame sugarcane sugar was followed by a refreshing acidity and sweetness. I used to think that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates were delicious, but these chocolates had the strong presence of cacao and weren’t as sweet. I was blown away at how truly delicious they were. I was hooked. So much that I always have a stock of Timeless Chocolate at home now, and whenever I have guests, I make sure they try at least one. These chocolates were new and sensational for me, that I can’t help but spreading the great news.
From cacao beans to chocolate, or what is known as Bean to Bar, is a production method of chocolate conducted at one establishment, which includes all the steps from procuring the cacao beans to the final production of chocolate. At Timeless Chocolate, they bring out the flavors and texture of beans from varying production areas of Cuba, Columbia, Ghana, Vietnam and others, and combine sugarcane that match these beans to produce distinctively rich tastes and variations. Chocolate is commonly produced with imported ingredients of cacao butter or cacao powder, and various other ingredients are added, then hardened, then flavored. But at Timeless Chocolate, their chocolates are free of unnecessary ingredients, and made only with cacao beans and sugarcane. If ‘beans to chocolate’ was to be compared with orange juice, the commonly found chocolates are like orange juice from concentrate. The chocolates here are made free of additives, and the beans are freshly ground and without increase in acidity, so the distinctive effects of chocolates with over 70% cacao are absent, like heartburn and headaches.
“Chocolates are very sensitive and for example, can lack shine depending on the temperature. To get the right size of grain that we’re very particular about, we repeatedly adjust the temperature. To disguise such effects, commonly available chocolates are processed with various additives, like emulsifiers, to achieve the smooth texture, but using too much of vegetable oils and white sugar can cause heartburn. We spent two years to find the right way of blending and kneading, and the particular size of grain that was just right.”
In the past, cacao was only handled in pharmacies for its high medicinal properties. Cacao promotes good circulation, activates brain cells, and heightens concentration. It has an abundance of nutrients and is always ranked in under the super foods and power foods categories.
Timeless Chocolate staff are explosively unique.
It all began when the owner, Hayashi-san, encountered “the third wave of coffee” while in San Francisco which inspired him to open a cafe. (Third wave coffee is a concept where coffee is perceived similar to wine, and just as there are particular points in wine like the type of grape, production area, and methods of production, the third wave coffee places importance on type of coffee beans, where they are produced, and how they are roasted.) He went to numerous establishments in the US to learn more about coffee, and then in Melbourne, he got his barista qualification. He was intrigued with expressos the most because despite the simplicity of the ingredient, coffee beans, and the simple step of roasting, the taste and flavors can differ greatly.
He says, “You know how we put sugar in our espresso? To add sugar to a very strong liquid, that tightens and brings the acidity together, and it brings out such varying expression in the drink. I was so intrigued by that effect, and wanted to learn about the essence of sugarcane, and so I picked up my things and came to Okinawa (laughs).”
The only areas in Japan where sugarcane is grown is in Okinawa and some parts of Kagoshima. Hayashi-san visited Okinawa numerous times and tasted that sugarcane was different with each of the islands within Okinawa. As he tasted the differences, he realized that the brown sugar produced on Okinawa Island, in particular, had completely different tastes depending on the production area and producer. Hayashi-san thought to combine the coffee bean roasting skills and knowledge he acquired with cacao beans. That way, he felt he could showcase the delicate details of chocolate just as coffee. At that time in Japan, Bean to Bar establishments were rare, and so he began making chocolate with a friend, experimenting with the assistance of various overseas documents.
Once the cacao beans are spread out, each bean is checked one by one, and anything that may affect the taste are sorted out, like those that have been nibbled by insects or mold. This strict selection standards end up discarding 20 to 30 percent of the beans. The carefully select beans are then roasted in-house and the flavors are brought out. There are ten steps in the overall production of chocolate. The unique characteristic of Timeless Chocolate is that they thoroughly classify the cacao beans and sugarcane, which offer varying flavors according to production area.
There’s an area in the shop where visitors can view the chocolate production, so if you get a chance, I recommend you take a look.
Using chocolate as an ingredient, they also create new sweets and dishes in collaboration with patissier and chefs from other establishments. At the Factory+Café of Timeless Chocolate, their house patissier, Yusuke, creates beautiful, artistic, and delicious sweets with the Timeless chocolates.
Their popular “Tsumi-Bukaki Tart (sinful tarts)” using Ghana chocolate and generous portions of peanut butter and cream cheese is a popular selection. True to its name, it is sinfully rich and delicious.
Another popular item also has a unique name, “Zaiakukan Zero Cake (guilt-free cake)”. This cake is made with cottage cheese blended with honey, and layers of cream cheese. It’s made with almond powder instead of flour and is light to eat and can be enjoyed guilt-free, but this too, is sinfully delicious.
The sweets offered for the day are decided according to the ingredients acquired that day, so be sure to check what they have when you’re at the shop.
The cutlery and dishes they use there are also very unique and fun to look at. These are made by the young ceramic artist, Imamura, who resides in Okinawa. Before, Hayashi-san was a buyer for used clothing, classic cars and motorcycles, and he loves the counter-culture and subculture. He always wanted make a place where artists could introduce their creations at the café, or be inspired at his shop. Because of that, the shop is also like a select shop with numerous creations by young, talented artists.
When you visit somewhere often, you want new things to see every time so that you can feel the new and exciting feeling and inspiration. “Chocolate is something you enjoy with your five senses. It would be great for the shop to be a social spot where we can get to know the essence of the ingredients, heighten our senses and feel great stimulation.”
In his pursuit of sugarcane, Hayashi-san arrived on Okinawa with only one suitcase, and once he got here, life wasn’t always easy. It was the local residents that supported him through those times, offering him fresh vegetables right from their farms and other acts of kindness. He wanted to use Okinawan ingredients to create chocolate, a familiar food for everyone, and hopes for his customers to see and taste the real essence of sugarcane. He says that’s how he’s been repaying his thanks to the locals. Other local foods are used in his creations like his bonbon chocolate, created from ganache made with goat milk yogurt. He’s currently working with the locals on Miyako Island to develop their original strain of sugarcane. He wants to create a framework where people who create quality products can proudly sell their products, and break the downward spiral where chemicals are used in order to sell the complete harvest of sugarcane.
At the shop, you’ll be treated to “cacao talk” from Hayashi-san, and you’ll see that it’s his amazing passion and his spirit of inquiry that shapes every single piece of chocolate he offers. His chocolates, I’m sure, will become the next new specialty of Chatan, no, of Okinawa. Personally, if such an establishment that offers amazing chocolates like these, created from their pursuit of the real thing, I’d be lost. For me, the biggest treat is to enjoy the wonderful chocolate cake and drink cacao juice with a friend at Timeless Chocolate.
Address: 2F of Distortion Seaside Building, 9-45 Mihama, Chatan, Nakagami, Okinawa
Hours: 11:00 to 19:00 Open Year Round
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sandy