The curtains in front of Christopher Nobles’ shop windows are long, rectangular and the color of chocolate.
“What else would it be?” Nobles said with a grin.
This week, Nobles drew those curtains back to officially open Piety and Desire Chocolate, his chocolate shop, factory and home base.
Piety and Desire is a “bean-to-bar” chocolate maker that lays the whole intricate process bare. Beans arrive fermented and dried in burlap sacks from farms in Central America and South America. When Nobles is through with them they’ve become bonbons glazed with iridescent art nouveau swoops, barks marked with sea salt and caramel and regular bars with uncommonly rich flavor.
The Piety and Desire “Tiki bar” is an edible pun made with rum from Roulaison Distilling Co., located just next door, and cocktail bitters from Bittermens, another local brand. Hard cider from another South Broad Street neighbor, Broad Street Cider & Ale, goes into Nobles’ caramels.
Piety and Desire joins a small circuit of bean-to-bar chocolate makers (another local example is Acalli Chocolate), and it's part of the bigger trend of small-scale craft food makers.
Though the name appears to reference two parallel streets on the other side of town, Nobles said he chose Piety and Desire to reflect the dueling spiritual and sensual roles chocolate has played from Mesoamerica to Europe.
Nobles started his business from DIY roots. The New Orleans native has pursued music and photography and initially saw chocolate as another creative outlet.
“I fell in love with it instantly,” he said. “I mean, that realization that you can make chocolate at home? That was it.”
His original idea was simply to make chocolate for wholesale distribution. When the longtime Uptown candy maker Blue Frog Chocolates closed this summer, however, he shifted gears. He acquired some of Blue Frog’s display cases and built out a small retail counter in his shop.
Just past that counter, the room stretches on like a combination of a kitchen and a diagnostics lab. Between mixers and conveyor belts, there’s all the gleaming machinery to take the humble bean through the steps of roasting, winnowing, grinding, refining, filtering and tempering en route to becoming slabs of chocolate and delicate confections.
“It’s all right here,” Nobles said, bringing the whole operation under a quick sweep of his hand. “Oz is right in front of you.”
2727 S. Broad St., 504-491-4333
Tue.-Sat., 2-7 p.m.
The store’s grand opening is Saturday, Dec. 9.
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