If you are looking for unique, handmade artisan chocolate, look no further than Ridgewood Chocolate, a small local business nestled in an unassuming store front on Catalpa Avenue, where the chocolate is crafted right on site.
Husband-and-wife duo Constantine and Rubi Kalpaxis opened their shop on Catalpa Avenue two years ago, but have been a mainstay in Ridgewood for decades. Constantine previously owned the American Houseware shop formerly on Fresh Pond Road, and continues to sell home goods at the shop.
This time, however, there’s one big difference: he has begun making dark chocolate with his wife in the back of the store.
The Kalpaxises started crafting chocolate when Rubi wanted to make some hot cocoa, but was not satisfied with the quality of the packaged chocolate, so she decided to give it a try.
“The whole setup is here. Half of the store is devoted to making chocolate,” Constantine said. “We do everything, with the exception of the roasting of the beans, which we still do at home because [Rubi] likes to experiment with different roasting of the beans.”
The couple have quickly become experts in everything chocolate, from the selection of cocoa beans they use, to the time frame they have once the bean is roasted, and the flavoring and packaging of the treats once they are finished.
“The beans can stay like that for 100 years, but the moment you roast them, now there is a time frame before they go bad,” Constantine said, referring to a large bag of cocoa beans in the shop. “It’s usually — we figured it out — three or four weeks. In that time you have the optimal aroma, taste and smell. We control the roasting to the processing to the end result so we can guarantee to the customer that at any time they purchase this stuff, it’s at its optimal range of aroma and taste.”
Constantine and Rubi have created some interesting and exotic flavors of dark chocolate with only two ingredients: cacao and sugar. Some of the flavors they sell include roasted garlic, bacon, peppercorn, pistachio and cashews.
Another unique feature implemented by the couple is that all of their chocolate has the roasted date on the label rather than an expiration date, so customers know how long ago the beans were roasted. That way, they can eat their sweets at the height of the chocolate’s flavors.
“Our philosophy is that we’re here on this Earth for a purpose; why not do something good? But if we’re running a store, we should add something to the customer/proprietor relationship,” Constantine said. “We try to share our knowledge with the customer. By doing that, you’re adding value to that relationship, and also for yourself. And if you can add something positive to that customer experience, that is what we want to do.”