ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Dexter-based Mindo Chocolate Makers is getting ready for the grand opening of its Kerrytown location.
Some Washtenaw County community members may be familiar with the company through its local partners, but newcomers to the brand are in for a surprise with flavors like hot pepper, vanilla, ginger, sea salt dark chocolate and more.
Owner Barbara Wilson originally learned about chocolate down in Mindo, Ecuador, when she and husband José Meza, opened an internet cafe. The cafe sold brownies but Wilson couldn’t find chocolate she liked.
“I knew that Ecuador had the best cocoa beans and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find chocolate that I liked,” she said, adding that she started learning what she could and making her own.
Having grown up in Ann Arbor, Wilson returned to the area and started sharing her chocolates with friends and family. She didn’t intend to start a chocolate-making business but demand grew and grew.
Mindo was brought to life in 2009 in Wilson’s Dexter home, where she still makes each batch of chocolate. The process starts with organic cacao nibs made from the beans of heirloom varieties of Educadorian Nacional Cacao, which Wilson said have a better flavor than commercial plants.
Mindo’s new Tree Town retail shop softly opened its doors in early December but will host a grand opening from Friday, Feb. 18 to Sunday, Feb. 20.
To celebrate, there will be raffles, samples of chocolate, hot chocolate, products exclusive to the Kerrytown spot, truffles and activities.
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Wilson said she is making a special (and luxurious-sounding) product for the event which includes a chocolate shell, black currant, miel de cacao jelly (which is made from cacao fruit), a macadamia chocolate ganache and macadamia sprinkles.
In addition to delicious treats, the Kerrytown retail store will offer tours of its small space as well as tastings, education programs, events and classes for aspiring chocolate-makers. Find upcoming events on the Mindo website.
“We’re just launching all of these new things and I’m very excited because it’s fun--it’s very fun. And people are looking for fun things to do where they can get out a little bit and do something,” Wilson said.
Wilson has loved the Kerrytown neighborhood since she attended Community High School and volunteered at the Food Co-Op in the 1970s. She credits Lisa McDonald of neighboring business TeaHaus for encouraging her to move into the 4th Avenue space.
The Ann Arbor store is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays at 206 N. 4th Ave.
Those who can’t make it to Mindo’s Kerrytown spot or Dexter facility can order chocolate online. The company ships its products across the US and internationally. Or, find it at these Ann Arbor area partners.