February 9, 2016 – The first bean-to-cup chocolate café in Santa Cruz, Mutari Chocolate, is back with new owners just in time for Valentine’s Day. The popular café attached to the Food Lounge closed it’s doors at the end of last year, when brothers Adam and Matt Armstrong decided to give it a rest. New owners Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier have purchased the business and are excited about launching a series of winter weekend Pop Up Cafés at Front St. Kitchen.
“It’s a pretty beautiful thing,” says Oursler. “We have that same passion for community and for chocolate and are geeking out on that.”
The first pop up takes place on February 13 and 14 from 11am-9pm at the Front St. Kitchen at 504A Front St. in Santa Cruz and pop ups will continue every weekend for the next month.
The Front St. space has been remodeled by Adam Armstrong, much in the style of his former café, with beautiful old barn wood and a new bar made from recycled doors. Ethically-sourced, single-bean sipping chocolates will be served and staff from the old café will be back to make the drinks. Gift boxes of bottled hot chocolate mixes will be on sale and make a perfect Valentine’s present for your sweetie.
Oursler and Beaumier want the transition to feel like a natural evolution, but have big plans to grow the business. She previously worked with artist Jim Denevan to launch the renowned Outstanding in the Field dinner series, traveling around the country and to other continents to host more than 200 farm-to-table dinners.
Baumier is a profesional chef who has worked at Michelin starred Quince in San Francisco and Cyrus in Healdsburg, and recently completed a stint at Noma in Copenhagen—frequently cited as the world’s best restaurant.
With these two top professionals at the helm, expect decadent new chocolate products, like bean-to-bar confections and even some savory chocolate dishes to come from the kitchen. Right now they are focussing on learning how to process the finest raw cacao beans they can get. Visitors to the pop up café will have a chance to see the melanger bean sorter at work and eventually observe the entire chocolate-making process.
The new owners also plan a two and a half week trip to Central America in March to meet with cacao farmers in Guatemala and attend a growers conference in Belize.
“For me, sourcing and telling the story behind local food is key,” says Oursler. “Stephen will work on making a quality product and to be able to do this in Santa Cruz, literally blocks from our house is just amazing.”
Founder Adam Armstrong will be on hand for the re-launch on Saturday. Stop by and say hello! To read more about Mutari Chocolate in Edible Monterey Bay magazine click here.