Charles Lemai, Atypic Chocolate’s founder and chocolatier, has been in the pastry business for more than two decades. He began his apprenticeship in France when he was 14 years old, which paved the way for his specialty handmade chocolate.
Behind a sheet of glass at his store in South Melbourne Market, the entire “bean-to-bar” process is on display; Lemai works in a room set at a chocolate-friendly 20 degrees Celsius. Everything is made here.
Lemai and his partner Yu Chi import ethically grown cacao beans from the Solomon Islands, Haiti, Brazil and Madagascar, then blend them with organic milk, raw sugar and non-GMO sunflower lecithin to make single-origin bars in white, dark and milk-chocolate varieties.
The Solomon Islands chocolate has a nuttier profile. The Brazilian is grape-y and vegetal. The Madagascan beans have notes of acidic red fruits. But if you have to choose one, make it the 70 per cent cacao Haiti, which loses the fruitiness for an earthy, mineral character. Lemai doesn’t use refined sugar, instead sweetening his products with either raw or rapadura sugar, both organic.
Atypic also serves European-style single-origin hot chocolates, pastries and American-style brownies. In summer there’s house-made soft serve.
Don’t leave without a merveilleux – the intensely rich, chocolate-shaving-dusted, whipped-cream sandwich with meringue “bread” that’s popular in Lemai’s hometown of Lille.