We are going to highlight a member of the Fruition crew with some Q&A's every now and then.
This time around we pulled Chris away from all the machines and chocolate for a chat.
NAME: Chris Staffa
HOMETOWN: Rockville Centre, NY
POSITION: Head Chocolate Maker
HAS WORKED AT FRUITION FOR: 2.5 years
FAVORITE NON-FRUITION CHOCOLATE BAR: Marou Coconut Milk Ben Tre 55%
Q: Let’s get into it. Tell me a little about what you do at Fruition.
A: I make the chocolate! I work very closely with Bryan to roast beans, winnow, refine, and conche chocolate. Occasionally there is some research and development projects or test batches that I will work on too.
Q: What is a typical day for you at the factory.
A: It depends, everyday is different. I’ll do a lot of bean roasting, then while I roast I will sort beans by hand, picking out any impurities. While I’m sorting I'll winnow the beans to get rid of the shell, so I will usually be doing all three steps at once. Lastly, I’ll prep the nibs to begin the refining and conching process.
Q: So how did you get started in chocolate?
It was a hobby in high school actually, I just sort of did it on my weekends and eventually I took the plunge and got a tempering machine. I really just did it for fun. Then I went to culinary school, and then got hired as an extern at Fruition.
Q: Right, you were Fruition’s very first extern correct?
A: I was!
Q: Tell us what that experience was like.
A: It was great. I was the first extern and I think third production employee, ever. So that’s pretty cool. I learned a ton from working here, and still am.
Q: Very cool! So we get a ton of bean samples, tell me a little about how you assess new beans and come up with different roast profiles?
A: Right, so I work with Bryan a lot on that. We will taste the raw beans to figure out any strong flavors that may come through like acidity, earthiness or any other subtle notes. Then we will try out some test batches based on our own previous roasts. That way we can control the flavor of the beans more. We can then isolate certain flavors or get rid of any funk we may not want in our chocolate.
Q: Have you been working on any cool R&D projects lately?
A: Yes! We are currently working on a new coffee bar using a local coffee roastery. Their coffee beans complement our chocolate really well. Tying into that we have been working with new Chuno beans from Nicguara and they are a lot of fun. They are quickly becoming some of my favorite beans that we have ever worked with. Chuno pairs particularly well with coffee.
Q: I can’t wait to try it! There are so many chocolate companies in this industry, what do you think Fruition does to differentiate itself?
A: A lot of craft bean to bar companies are super focused on two ingredient chocolate. Plain dark chocolate with cacao and sugar, and that's it. What I really love about working here, is that we will do a lot of fun and crazy things like our corn currant white chocolate or our strawberries & cream bars. We are just focused on trying to make the most tasty and best things we can, and we aren’t limiting ourselves to using just two ingredients. We make products that are fun and what we enjoy eating, and I think that comes across nicely.
Q: That is such a great point Chris. So outside of the chocolate factory, what are you doing?
A: I pretty much brew beer, garden, and hike the mountains. I am currently growing these beautiful tomatoes, they are GREAT. Catskills are great, you should definitely visit.
Q: Favorite Fruition bar?
A: Bourbon Dark Milk all the way!
I mean, look at this beautiful tomato plant.