Co­coa Manna a yummy stop along Sper­ryville Pike

‘Mose­brook scoops hand­fuls of the world’s finest co­coa beans from heavy burlap sacks stamped Belize, Bo­livia and Peru’

Rappahannock News - - COUNTRYSIDE - By John Mccaslin Co­coa Manna is lo­cated two miles south of the Bos­ton Gen­eral Store along Route 522, the Sper­ryville Pike. Visit­coa­ or call 540.729.6870.

Karen Mose­brook has cer­tainly found her niche in life, and we can all be thank­ful for that. How many “bean to bar” choco­latiers are there, after all, in th­ese Blue Ridge foothills?

A three minute drive south of the Rap­pa­han­nock County line along the Sper­ryville Pike, it’s dif­fi­cult to miss Mose­brook’s unique choco­late mak­ing en­ter­prise, Co­coa Manna. Housed in an old-fash­ioned fill­ing sta­tion, its an­tique fuel pumps are now whim­si­cally trans­formed into pink and blue peo­ple greeters, like some­thing out of Willy Wonka’s Choco­late Fac­tory.

While Mose­brook has been pro­duc­ing pop­u­lar Co­coa Manna Fine Brew­ing Co­coa at her Bos­ton lo­ca­tion since 2012 — “I do the brew­ing choco­late from roasted ground co­coa beans,” she right­fully boasts — it’s only been a year-and-a-half since she’s cre­ated delicious choco­late bars from scratch, er, beans.

“I get in co­coa beans from dif­fer­ent ori­gins and I make it all the way — roast it, grind it, win­now it,” says the choco­latier, ex­plain­ing var­i­ous steps of the in­trigu­ing (sci­en­tific, ac­tu­ally) choco­late mak­ing process.

“It goes into a stone grinder like this one for two days, then after two days I’ll bring it out, and then it has to go over here into this tem­per­ing ma­chine,” Mose­brook says, lead­ing a vis­i­tor across the aro­matic, light-filled space.

“This raises and low­ers the tem­per­a­ture, and aligns the mol­e­cules of co­coa but­ter, so you ul­ti­mately get the snap and shine. See, it’s shiny,” she points out, snap­ping in two a small slab of the choco­late. “That’s tem­pered choco­late.”

To be­gin cre­at­ing her mouth­wa­ter­ing choco­late bars — con­sist­ing solely of or­ganic co­coa beans, or­ganic co­coa but­ter, and or­ganic cane su­gar, with op­tional de­lights like nuts and el­der­berry — Mose­brook scoops hand­fuls of the world’s finest co­coa beans from large burlap sacks stamped Belize, Bo­livia and Peru.

The heavy sacks, in ef­fect the foun­da­tion of Mose­brook’s en­ter­prise, cover an en­tire sec­tion of the choco­late maker’s floor space. “They all taste dif­fer­ent,” she says, show­ing off the var­i­ous beans, “be­cause they all are dif­fer­ent.”

In ad­di­tion to the whole­some “bean to bar” or­ganic choco­late bars, en­tic­ingly wrapped in clear plas­tic with Co­coa Manna stick­ers, Mose­brook also makes more tra­di­tional milk choco­late bars.

One of Mose­brook’s reg­u­lar pa­trons, en­joy­ing a small cup of steam­ing co­coa brew, in­ter­rupts the dis­cus­sion to rave about the rich tast­ing yet sur­pris­ingly smooth drink.

“Why would any­one drink cof­fee or tea after sip­ping this?” she asks. “I’m do­ing this to give up cof­fee.”

Mose­brook in­vites every­body to stop into Co­coa Manna for a per­sonal tour of the sel­dom scene “bean to bar” process. Cur­rently the choco­late maker is stock­ing up for the com­ing hol­i­days, and she will gladly take any spe­cial gift or­ders in ad­vance.


Choco­latier Karen Mose­brook's fa­mous “bean-to-bar” choco­late is made fresh from the finest co­coa beans im­ported from Cen­tral and South Amer­ica.

Freshly ground co­coa is poured into a swirling nib grinder, where its mag­i­cally tasty trans­for­ma­tion takes place. It starts with co­coa beans (top).

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