With Mork Specialty Hot Chocolate becoming increasingly popular amongst cafes that offer specialty coffee here in Melbourne and also now spreading interstate, I fired off a few choice questions for chocolatier Josefin Zernell about how Mork came to be, and what we can expect in the not too-distant future. Josefin was even kind enough to reveal when we can expect the new Mork Dark Milk & Salt!
And if you’re yet to try Mork, be sure to check for it next time you’re out for coffee at any of these cafes: Proud Mary, Auction Rooms, Ora Specialty Coffee, St Ali, Twenty & Six Espresso, Dead Man Espresso, Clement Coffee, plus lots more!
The interview below will be interspersed with a few of my own photos brewing a simple cup of Mork on the stove. I’ve also had a lot of success brewing Mork using the espresso machine to create a more aerated Mork, but a simple stovetop brew also tastes delicious.
Interview with Josefin Zernell – Founder of Mork Specialty Hot Chocolate
Josefin, thanks for speaking with BrewMethod! Tell us briefly how Mork came about, and what inspired the idea behind it?
Of course. Mörk started as an idea about a year and a half ago. Me, a chocolatier from Sweden, and my partner had been living in Melbourne for about two years at the time and had been absolutely blown away with the quality of the coffee scene here. Having a background in the coffee industry as a roaster and barista it was like coming to the coffee centre of the world. I noticed quickly that the drinking chocolate that was offered in most cafés was lacking in quality and that sugar was dominating completely. I decided to start Mörk to change that, to bring my specialty chocolate knowledge to the café scene and to slowly start converting people to the dark chocolate side.
I’m going to try to compare Mork to coffee, because I know coffee geeks will appreciate that analogy. If Mork Original were a coffee, I think it would be a Central American, perhaps from Costa Rica. Clean, balanced, sweet, rich and full of flavour. Even Darker, is probably more like an Ethiopian coffee. More complex, and deeper flavours. What’s the best reaction you’ve ever had from someone drinking Mork?
I like the comparison! And you are right, the complexity definitely shines through more in Even Darker, with more fruity characters coming through. There are such well balanced flavours in the cacao liquor which we use for both blends, with stone fruit, dark berries and sweet almonds in the tasting notes.
The best reaction would have to be when people who say that they don’t like dark chocolate taste Mörk and get converted on the spot. Also, having showcased our Original Dark side by side with Even Darker and people go nuts for the latter, our almost unsweetened 85% blend. Then I feel like we are actually reaching people. Chocolate is such a misunderstood product, if you before have tasted only dark, harsh and bitter chocolate you will most likely think that all dark chocolate must be bitter in flavour. Addition of extra sugar, vanilla and flavours is generally there to hide poor quality beans. With high quality beans and skilful roasting a 100% chocolate can be incredibly complex and almost sweet.
Tell us a little about the ingredients in Mork. I recently saw Anthony Bourdain on a cacao farm, grinding cacao into a paste… is that essentially what cacao liquor is? Was it difficult to source the cocoa used in Mork?
Yes, cacao liquor is just that, the purest form of chocolate and have gone through all steps of refining except for the addition of sugar. We chose to work with cacao liquor to be able to control the amount and type of sugar in our blends.
When we started Mörk we ordered samples of cocoa powder and liquor from all over the world and had blind tastings to narrow it down. It took some time to find the right balance of flavour as we knew we wouldn’t settle for anything less than amazing. Sur Del Lago in Venezuela is one of the oldest cacao growing regions and produces incredible qualities of rare varieties such as the Trinitario used for our chocolate. We are fortunate to have access to such quality chocolate for our blends.
Instead of processed sugar, you use unrefined coconut blossum sugar. Why did you choose this as the sweetener, and how does it compare to using other sweeteners on the market?
We tasted coconut blossom sugar a while back and absolutely loved it. Once again we ordered samples from many producers all around Indonesia to find the best quality sugar and came in contact with a small producer in Ciamis, West Java. Their sugar is of a darker colour than other coconut sugar we have seen and the flavour is incredibly rich with notes of toffee and almost burnt sugar. We knew that it would complement the chocolate well and add only slight sweetness to our blends. We also loved the fact that it is diabetic friendly and low in GI. So, it was an easy decision.
We are excited to announce that our very first 65% dark milk chocolate blend will be launched on the weekend June 29th. We can’t wait!
What’s your most memorable chocolate experience, either here in Australia or overseas?
Being practically in the middle of nowhere in a small town called Columbia, Missouri, having a day fresh Madagascan chocolate bar from Patric Chocolate, outside his small batch chocolate factory. It bursted with flavours, almost like munching on freshly picked sour cherries and sweet raspberries, so lively and multi-dimensional in character.
Mork had a great presence at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo this year. Do you think you’ll be back next year?
We hope to, we had an amazing response at MICE and are thankful to have been a part of it. It was the first time we showcased Mörk to an event of that size and I absolutely loved seeing people drink Mörk for the first time.
What’s your opinion on chilli in chocolate?
It’s actually more a classic than people take it for, dating back to the early days of the Maya civilisation. I still prefer my chocolate pure to let the spectra of flavours shine through. But I encourage anyone to try Mörk with some dried Ancho chilli – my favourite chilli fruit together with chocolate. It has a complex dark fruit character and a balanced strength which works really well with dark chocolate.
Every time I’ve had Mork in a cafe here in Melbourne… whether it’s at Proud Mary, Auction Rooms or Ora, it’s always made and presented exceptionally well. Do you give specific brewing instructions to the cafes that offer Mork?
We are lucky to work with some of the best baristas in the country, who already understand and respect our chocolate blends as they respect their beans. We do still offer instructions for how it is best “brewed” and it always involves making it extra strong.
Speaking of brewing – what’s your favourite type of milk to use with Mork?
I would have to say Elgaar full cream milk. It’s an organic milk from Tasmania, quite rare to find but incredibly delicious and it reminds me of the milk back home.
The brewing guide on your web site is great. Any tips in case readers wanted to give it a slight twist?
My all time favourite is to make the chocolate the night before, add a few green pods of good quality cardamom and let it steep in the fridge overnight. The next morning the flavours will have developed to the most aromatic rich chocolate drink, with the perfect hint of the spice. Heat the chocolate gently with the pods still in it and serve. Try the same thing with a vanilla pod, a few crushed up juniper berries or star anise.
Ever thought of creating a sugar/fructose-free Mork? (although Even Darker is already 85% cacao)
Who knows, this could very well already be in the works
Are there any bars using Mork in cocktails?
Not just yet, although there have been some recipes going around on social media for Mörktails and we can’t wait for that to catch on
Thanks so much for speaking to BrewMethod.com!
It has been a pleasure!
I just returned from semi-final day at the 2013 World Barista Championship, and took a ton of photos. The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) is also being held at the same venue. I spent a good few hours cruising around the different vendors and chatting to a range of people in the coffee industry. I also managed to catch the performance of Matthew Perger, Australia’s hope to win the World Barista Championship.
Perger’s new method of brewing filter coffee through an espresso machine using a purpose-built filter coffee grinder was both interesting and eye-opening. He’s certainly put a lot of thought into it, and did a great job of selling the idea to the judges. If it tastes as good as it looked then he could be in with a shot at winning for 2013.
Enjoy these photos from the event, taken today:
Today the coffees I ordered from Hasbean.co.uk arrived in the mail. The new Sweepstake espresso blend (Special Edition), plus a bag of Yirgacheffe Wote Natural.
First up, I must say that this particular Yirg is particularly stunning. If you like subtle coffee, then this is not the coffee for you. It’s an in-your-face natural processed Ethiopian, and it’s everything coffee lovers have come to expect from Ethiopia. Effervescent, sparkling and just full of flavours most people on this planet have never tasted in coffee. This is the kind of coffee that would be ideal to introduce people to Specialty-grade coffee, and the roast quality Hasbean are renowned for really does it justice.
By contrast, the Sweepstake blend is a little more refined and subdued, although it does contain 20% of the same Yirgacheffe. The rest is comprised of 50% Costa Rica Finca Bella Vista and 30% of the Brazil Passeio Natural most people are quite familiar with now. The Costa Rica adds balance and the Brazil tones things down just a notch or two, leaving a very drinkable and delicious blend.
HasBean also did something very cool with the Sweetstake blend, creating a special lucky dip giveaway where some lucky people who ordered the coffee won some prizes. Here’s the video they made for the giveaway.
The idea was that each bag was represented in the race by a number (and staff member) on the bag. It’s a fun concept and the video was a real treat. As you can see, I landed rider #5, so I didn’t win!
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