Taste and learn at the area’s only bean-to-bar chocolate shop.
“It’s social justice – from bean to packaging,” says chocolate maker Dan Bieser, who christened his first bars of Tabal in a rented commercial kitchen above Milwaukee’s Amaranth Bakery in 2012. Named after the Mayan word that means “relationship,” Tabal – which has since grown to occupy a historic Wauwatosa storefront – focuses on building direct, long-term connections with cacao bean farmers in Central and South America to create pure, high-quality chocolate. This process controls environmental impact and helps the farmers support themselves. Bieser’s bean-to-bar shop is the only one like it in Milwaukee. The process from a seed-filled cacao pod growing on a tree to the creamy, rich confection believed by some to be an aphrodisiac or anti-depressant is fascinating. The pods are picked, fermented and dried. Once the beans are shipped to Tabal, they’re sorted and roasted, cracked and winnowed. What’s left are the crunchy, toasty edible nibs which are then ground (over the course of days) and melted, cooled and finally molded into bars. With 30 types and flavors of bars – Tabal’s dark chocolate ranges from 48 percent to a few that are 100 percent cacao – along with drinking and baking powders and a confection counter offering truffles, gelato and hot beverages, this is an ambrosial, take-your-time shopping and learning experience.
Things to do while you visit Tabal in Wauwatosa:
- Take a Class: Chocolate Making 101 happens on Sept. 8.
- Sample Cacao Nibs: Touted as a “superfood”
- Learn About Cacao: Including growing regions and Tabal’s single-origin bars
- Drink Chocolate: Tabal’s thick sipping chocolate is decadent and perfect for slow savoring