By ALICIA GULLON and AMANDA DUONG
When you first walk into Parliament Chocolate, you’re greeted with the scent of fermented cacao beans. Located at 15 E. Redlands Boulevard in Redlands, the shop is petit and quaint, filled with an assortment of delicious chocolates.
The shop has been open for five years and is owned by the same creator of A La Minute, Ryan Berk. Berk originally wanted a source of chocolate for their ice-cream shop, so they bought their own chocolate shop.
A Parliament is a group of owls; the original shop before Parliament Chocolate was called White Owl Cafe. The new name is a clever homage to the original cafe.
This small company makes dark chocolate confections with the exception of one type of milk chocolate. Their dark chocolate is 70% cacao, and the employee in charge of bar production, Amia Tadjalli, explained why the company chose a 70% ratio rather than a more common 50-60%. “It’s 70% because it’s a perfect balance between chocolate and sugar. Chocolate is like wine or coffee, you can’t add too many ingredients, or it loses its original purpose,” Tadjalli said.
The cacao beans come from six different countries: Tanzania, Thailand, Guatemala, Peru, Belize and the Dominican Republic. After the beans are dried and sorted, they arrive at Parliament where they are sorted again by hand to remove the imperfect beans. Then, the beans are roasted and go through a refiner that removes the shells. After the beans are refined for five days, the chocolate is then added to a tempering machine to melt it down. Finally, chocolate is poured into a mold and cooled.
Their chocolate bars are unique and one-of-a-kind. The chocolate bar wrappers have a different bird or owl to represent each of the different countries they received their cacao beans from. Each of the chocolate bars uses cacao beans from the company and country they represent. For example, the Thailand Chanthaburi Chocolate Bar uses cacao beans from the company Kokoa Kamili, and the wrapper features one of the company’s signature owls.
Since Redlands is a small community, Parliament teams up with other local businesses for ingredients. The chocolate shop works with nearby farms for oranges to use in their famous Orange Honey Truffle. In addition to supplying A La Minute with chocolate for their ice cream, Parliament works with Augie’s Coffee. The chocolate shop provides Augie’s with chocolate syrup for drinks like the Parliament Mocha; in return, Parliament uses Augie’s coffee grounds for three confections, including the Augie’s Coffee Truffle. Their most popular chocolates are the Vanilla Bean Sea Salt Truffle and Orange Honey Truffle.