Crown Maple Syrup from Madava Farms Should Be In Your Pantry (and a Case Study for Your Entrepreneurial Files)
After my recent semi-annual rant on the sorry condition of the maple syrup industry in the United States, which began with our discussion of the food industry polluting its products last Autumn, it should come as no surprise that, lately, we’ve been on a quest to find the ideal luxury maple syrup; honest-to-goodness, real, from-the-Earth maple tree sap with nothing else added that will become our go-to syrup for enjoying with breakfast, cooking in recipes, or using as a sugar substitute when the occasion calls for something with a different flavor profile. One of the companies that was in the running was Madava Farms in New York state, which has a business built around its flagship syrup, Crown Maple. (This obsession with quality isn’t anything out of the ordinary. You might remember two years ago, we found our favorite honey. We order it at a certain time of year before the inventories are depleted, stocking up on as much as we reasonably can in the pantry.)
The enterprise is unique. Forbes profiled it last year because it operates with an almost reverential appreciation for the artistry of the product in the same way Brown-Forman treats whiskey or a vineyard treats wine. There’s a multi-million dollar visitor center, chef, wedding venue, tasting tour, property tour, and more. Everything down to the packaging was designed with luxury in mind, with the concept developed by Studio MPLS. Even the tagline reflects this, with the official Crown Maple syrup slogan being, “Not all crowns are inherited. Some are earned.” Crown Maple wants to please not only your tongue, but your imagination, as well.
The whole thing is fascinating. You have to read The New York Times profile on how the business came into existence. The owners went from zero to sixty in a few, short years, infusing enough money that they built what is believed to be the largest maple syrup production facility in all of North America (and skillfully, too, which is understandable given the husband is a senior partner at ArcLight Capital, who, on paper at least, looks almost absurdly perfect as if he were freshly minted from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel with an undergraduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Harvard). I understand it – they were very scientific about it; cold and calculating. I love everything about its history, the thought and consideration put into the startup, the appreciation for the power of a brand, and the fact it created equity value of out thin air. It induced in me a feeling most investors have probably experienced: The desire to acquire ownership (provided the economics actually turn out favorably). It gives me the same sense of joy that the House of Creed fragrance business does.
The Crown Maple syrup line-up consists of four intensities: Golden Color, Amber Color, Dark Color, and Very Dark Color, with 375 mL bottles ranging in price from $16.95 to $21.95. There’s also maple sugar, which you can purchase. We ordered a bottle of each to undertake a taste testing today. Unfortunately, the Dark Color broke but it is being replaced thanks to an amazingly awesome inventory control manager named Tamar who was so incredible at her job, I placed a second, follow-up order of seven additional bottles to give away as gifts, with many more future purchases planned.
Spoons in hand, bottles opened, we were instantly sold on this top-shelf maple syrup, and not just on one derivation – we loved them all. Though, admittedly, I have a preference for the Very Dark Color if you forced me to choose. We’re hooked. We were hooked before we knew any of the background on the business itself, seduced entirely by the quality of the product, but knowing how intelligently it was birthed into this world makes me adore it. I love seeing competence and execution done right.
My goal now is to figure out how to make a recipe that uses it prominently; something akin to the pineapple upside down cake I made after trying to replicate a recipe we had at Club 33 out in California during a trip to Disneyland. Maybe a maple glaze, like the honey lemon glaze for that beehive cake I made a few years ago? Or a dessert bread? I bet I could modify our now-famous Cinnabon replica Cinnamon Roll recipe with a maple flavor profile using this! Jackpot! Oh, and I’ll add pecans like you see in some regional derivations! The official website has a recipe collection, so that’s another possible source of inspiration. They also included a bunch of cocktail recipes for which you can use the maple syrup as a flavor enhancer but that’s not our thing.
If you want to pick up a bottle or four for your own pantry (you should), head over to the Crown Maple online store to learn more and place your order. Once you find your preferred syrup intensity, you can buy it by the gallon for a much lower cost per ounce. Give it a try. You probably just found your family’s new permanent maple syrup.