Condor Chocolates in Athens, Ga., on Friday, February 3, 2017. (Photo by Cory A. Cole)

Condor Chocolates and 1000 Faces Coffee have created a way to have your coffee and eat it too. In November, they launched the Don Francisco coffee bar, a product that looks similar to a chocolate bar but contains no cacao beans — just coffee beans.

“Athens is a small enough town for collaboration,” said Juli Bierwirth, food safety consultant at 1000 Faces, regarding how the two companies came to work together. “It just occurred to me that the same way they were processing the chocolate — it would be cool to do something like that with coffee.”

The name of the bar refers to the origin of the coffee beans, in this case a farmer in Nicaragua called Don Francisco. 1000 Faces has traditionally named their coffees for their farmers, and Bierwirth wanted to continue this practice.

Even deciding on “coffee bar” took some deliberation.

“We spent a long time thinking of names that would convey exactly what this is, and while we were thinking of these names we would keep calling it the coffee bar,” Bierwirth said. 

The process of creating the coffee bar took over six months and more than a dozen trial batches.

“We wanted a coffee that, when we ground it, the grounds would taste good,” Bierwirth said. “Coffee beans aren’t usually like that.”

1000 Faces originally tried the bar with regular coffee beans. The first bean they attempted the bar with was an Ethiopian bean, and when roasted for drinking, it was too bitter. The flavor wasn’t a result of bad bean quality; regular coffee made with the beans was fine. The beans had to be roasted through a different process for eating than they would be for drinking.

The beans for the coffee bar are prepared in a way that minimizes the Maillard reaction, a chemical process that happens when food is raised to high temperatures. This adds to the flavor of baked and fried foods, but the reaction also produces a bitter taste in roasted coffee beans 

“We try to blow through the Maillard browning,” Bierwirth said. 

The “doneness” of the coffee beans depends on the moisture content. The roasting process starts at a low temperature, between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The coffee beans lose moisture until they’re dry enough the start cracking, which takes almost half the time of coffee beans roasted for drinking — approximately eight minutes.

Bierwirth said the bar wasn’t really created with a specific audience in mind, but she hoped it would pique interest as a different way to consume coffee. The Don Francisco bar isn’t the first coffee bar on the market, but 1000 Faces and Condor want it to be known for being a well-made bar rather than the first one of its kind.

“We’ll probably get a mix of coffee aficionados who will enjoy this as a novel coffee product,” Bierwirth said. “I also expect it to be used as sort of an energy alternative.”

She suggested it could be used to boost energy during studying, as each bar is equivalent in caffeine to five cups of coffee. Five squares are roughly equal to a single cup of coffee. 

The bar costs $12 and comes in 2.46 ounce bars, the same size as the rest of Condor’s chocolate bars. It will be sold in 1000 Faces and Condor’s stores, as well as other vendors throughout Athens.

“Initially, it’s like I can taste a lot of coffee,” said Hank Carlton, a barista at 1000 Faces. “As I chew it more, it tastes more chocolatey and buttery-sweet, and then there’s more coffee at the end.”

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