We carefully handcraft our chocolate in small batches from fine-flavor, sustainably grown cacao beans at our workshop on Cape Cod. We believe in promoting sustainable agriculture and our direct trade relationships with producers ensure that our supply chain is ethical and environmentally sound. Blending high quality cacao with the purest ingredients available, we create chocolate that is both exceptional in taste and wholesomely decadent.
Hand-crafted bean-to-bar chocolates made on Cape Cod
NORTH TRURO — Cape Cod visitors willing to spend a little extra time in their cars have long been rewarded with dramatic, sweeping beaches that can be nearly deserted even at peak season, bike trails that rise and fall through forests and protected dunes, and a lively, eclectic art scene. Now, thanks to Josiah Mayo, 36, and Katherine Reed, 25, you can get something not typically associated with a New England coastal town — hand-crafted bean-to-bar chocolate.
Chequessett Chocolate and Cafe, named for the Wellfleet neighborhood where Mayo and Reed, who are engaged, conceived their business, is the third bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Massachusetts. (Taza Chocolate in Somerville and Rogue Chocolatier in Three Rivers are the other two.) “It’s an exciting time to be involved,” says Reed. Bean-to-bar refers to making molded chocolate bars from raw cacao beans. Chequessett’s bars are minimally processed, 70 percent cacao sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice. Current flavors are pure dark, sea salt (from Wellfleet Sea Salt Co.), cherry almond, and cacao nib. The duo also make small batches of low-glycemic chocolate using coconut palm sugar, and usually has a few small-batch limited-edition flavors available, like superfood crunch, which includes hemp seeds, goji berries, and cacao nibs. “Every week I have a new flavor I test out,” says Reed.
The pair have more than the casual aficionado’s interest in all aspects of this multifaceted ingredient. Throughout its history, chocolate has maintained an almost mythical reputation, as an aphrodisiac and mood elevator. Now, pending results of a study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, it may turn out that cocoa flavonols may also protect the heart. “Cacao is a superfood,” says Mayo. “It has all these incredible health aspects when minimally processed.”
Before Chequessett, Reed was a raw and vegan chef, caterer, and instructor through her business, FarmMaid Foods. Mayo, whose family has lived on the Cape since the 1600s — his parents cofounded the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies — was a commercial fisherman who worked with FarmMaid. They launched Chequessett for a number of reasons, not least of which was, says Mayo, “It’s tough to make a living here in a seasonal economy.”
“It’s an incredibly challenging food to work with,” says Reed. “We love the alchemy of [chocolate]. Both of us had very scientific minds about this.” They traveled to Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Costa Rica in search of cacao beans, ultimately selecting those from Finca la Amistad in Costa Rica, which was awarded the Salon du Chocolat Best Cocoa Bean for Central America and the Caribbean in 2011.
Chequessett Chocolate and Cafe is located in a 3,000-square-foot building that had been abandoned for two years. With Reed’s father as project manager, the couple spent 10 months converting the space into a cafe, chocolate production room, and office. From November until February, when they opened, the two worked alone, renovating and making chocolate. Currently they produce 500 pounds a month, but they built in extra capacity to be able to increase production and/or add cafe space.
The cafe serves three kinds of drinking chocolate (hot now, but cold when the weather changes), juices and smoothies, George Howell coffee, and pastries that lean vegan and gluten-free. It’s already a community gathering spot. “Every day new faces come in the door,” says Reed. “If you want a very broad experience of the chocolate spectrum, come here,” says Mayo. One more reason to hop in the car.
Katherine Reed is the co-founder of Chequessett Chocolate and the co-founder of its parent company FarmMaid Foods. She is an accomplished raw and vegan chef and provides services internationally as an instructor, caterer and private chef. She holds a certification as a Living Light Culinary Arts Institute Chef and Instructor. A graduate of Bard College, she holds a Bachelors degree in Urban & Environmental Studies and Anthropology.
Josiah Mayo is co-founder of Chequessett Chocolate and the resident food stylist, recipe innovator and official taste tester. He has 20+ years experience working in commercial fishing, whale watching, and sailing/fishing charters. With a decade of exploring cacao and chocolate in Latin America he likes to think in global and historical terms. As an avid mushroom hunter and berry picker on Cape Cod, Josiah is instrumental in the acquisition of local ingredients for the chocolate line. He holds a Bachelors degree in Cultural Anthropology from The University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Kristen Reed is the operations manager at Chequessett Chocolate and the co-founder of its parent company FarmMaid Foods. She has passionately worked in the hospitality and restaurant industry for over 10 years. Her appreciation for chocolate grew out of her love for food and wine. And with a similar affection for art, theater and international travel, it was only a matter of time before the three merged and she found herself working in the delicious and magical world of craft chocolate. She holds a certification as a certified nursing assistant. A graduate of Clark University, she holds a Bachelors degree in Communications and Cultural Studies and a minor in Women Studies.