What’s In Your Chocolate: Presentation for DC Chocolate Festival

Hi!

I’m honored to hold a talk and tasting at the 6th annual DC Chocolate Festival, April 29, 2023!

[Update: event photos are at the bottom of this email! Slides are still in the middle; info in comments to slides!]

Preview of some of what we’ll sample at my tasting! Does this remind you of our #chocolateandcherryblossoms events back in the old chocolate tour days?

My topic:

What’s In Your Chocolate: Explaining Labels, Exploding Myths, Exploring History, Experiencing Flavor: Learn how to decipher chocolate bar labels while we taste our way through chocolate history to the cutting edge of craft chocolate, in this upbeat talk and tasting presented by chocolate expert Valerie Beck.

Click for my slides, which are mainly a resource; see the notes section of the slides for information and links pertaining to what will be mainly a spoken presentation with plenty of chocolate and a few theatrics! : )

đź“… Mark your calendar: Saturday, April 29, 2023
⏰ Time: 10:30am – 5:30pm ET
📍 Location: La Maison Française, Embassy of France in the U.S., Washington, DC, 4101 Reservoir Rd NW 20007
🍫Hosted by: The Chocolate House — @dcchocolatefestival
🎟️ Get your tickets now at www.DCChocolateFestival.com
(Charming emoji-filled listing adapted from Glenn of @chocotastery)

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate — and cherry blossoms,

Valerie

With a detail of my favorite sculpture, the monumental Calder (Untitled, 1976), at the National Gallery in Washington, DC

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Uplift Founder 

Professor Valerie Beck Tutoring and Coaching

LinkedIn | Instagram

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

New Chocolate Documentary: The Chocolate War

Hi there!

I hope you are well and eating great craft chocolate!

An excellent new documentary about child slave labor in cacao is out. It’s called The Chocolate War, and it features my friend Terry Collingsworth, the human rights lawyer fighting Nestle and Cargill in court on behalf of children who were trafficked and enslaved on cocoa farms that provide cocoa beans to those corporations.

I watched this well-made film last night, created by our filmmaker friend Miki Mistrati; as a formerly practicing lawyer, I love seeing law in action for fairness! Watch for yourself and see the appalling, heartbreaking, and solvable situation some of us have been talking about for years.

The Chocolate War

Trailer:

Film info: 

https://www.thechocolatewarfilm.com/

Reviews: 

https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/the-chocolate-war-cphdox-review/5169055.article

https://variety.com/2022/film/global/the-chocolate-war-cphdox-1235210974/

Film to rent or buy:

https://letterboxd.com/film/the-chocolate-war-2022/

How about a screening and ethical chocolate tasting, held live or virtually? In any case, I’d love your thoughts on the film!

Click for scenes from a craft chocolate tasting

One of the questions I am often asked is how to tell which chocolate was made with child slave labor. Here are the 3 steps I recommend:

1. Big brand = child slave labor. 

  • Large corporate brands admit they have child slave labor in their supply chains.
    • Child slave labor on cacao farms in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, is confirmed by the UN, the US Department of Labor, and other observers.
    • Big brands say what happens on cacao farms in Cote d’Ivoire is out of their control; we say it’s completely within their control: pay farmers a fair price and kids won’t be vulnerable to trafficking and enslavement and can go to school instead of the fields.
      • So, almost all of the brands in the grocery store and other mass outlets are tainted. That’s why the bars cost $5, $2, or $1: child slaves earned no money for harvesting the cacao in those chocolate bars.
        • Do you think grocery stores and other sellers like Walmart and Amazon should also be held accountable for selling products made with child slave labor? I do.

2. Cacao country of origin listed = things are looking up!

  • If you saw a bottle of wine with no origin listed, no picture of an estate in France, or no reference to a vineyard in California or the like, you might have some questions about that wine. 
  • Yet chocolate brands get away with not telling us where their cacao was grown. Have you ever seen an origin indication on industrial chocolate? After all, cacao is not grown in Belgium, Switzerland, Hershey Pennsylvania, or a Snickers factory! What are the corporate brands hiding? Child kidnapping and slavery; see 1. above. 
  • So, if you see a small craft chocolate brand with the cacao country of origin listed on the label —
    • such as Ecuador, Madagascar, Tanzania, or other countries —
      • or if you see the cacao collective listed —
        • such as our friends at Zorzal of the Dominican Republic, Pangoa of Peru, Semuliki Forest of Uganda, or other origins — 
    • this origin information generally indicates that the chocolate maker bought through one of our direct trade transparent supply chains, so that you know where the cacao came from and can trace it back to the specific source to see that farmers earned proper money and kids were not exploited.
      • A statement of origin generally means the chocolate makers bought traceable cacao and did not buy cacao through the non-transparent bulk supply chain, where cacao from thousands of farms is mixed together and at least some of the cacao is certainly tainted with child labor as is standard in bulk cacao.
  • In other words: traceability is a good sign!

3. Clean ingredients list = another sign of quality and care!

  • If you are buying quality cacao, you wouldn’t want to diminish it with non-quality additives. 
  • What do you need to make chocolate? As my students have heard me say so many times: cacao and sugar, all you need!
    • If you see a chocolate bar ingredients list with lecithin, natural or artificial flavors (and we know that natural flavors are really artificial flavors), or any other synthetics or lab-processed chemicals that harm people and planet, this is a sign that the cacao might also be from a non-clean source, especially if no cacao country of origin is listed.
    • If you see a chocolate bar ingredients list with just traceable cacao and organic cane sugar, plus any real ingredients, this is a good sign, as cacao country of origin + clean ingredients = a traceable clean bar!
    • Examples of chocolate bars made from traceable cacao and clean ingredients only:
      • Crackle & Crunch quinoa and almond milk chocolate bar from Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate of Atlanta, made with Nicaragua cacao; I gifted this and other Xocolatl bars recently to a dear family who loved everything! (The link in this bullet point also shows a bar made by VAICACAO with Nicaragua chocolate plus organic sugar; all you need! : )
      • Bouquet Vert Lime chocolate bar by Askanya Chocolate of Haiti, made with Haiti cacao, Haiti artisanal sugar, and Haiti limes; this bar and other treats from Askanya were a hit at a Valentine’s Day party I held for my mom’s neighbors last month!
      • Click to see many more of my favorites!
      • Scroll here for some wonderful retailers who carry ethical chocolate and will ship to you!

Clean, green, and ready for St. Patrick’s Day! : ) Happy March!

The brands I work with — and the bars I eat every day! — meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free / synthetic additive-free
  • sustainable and soil-regenerative
  • small-batch
  • scrumptious!

Golden Age of empathy and equality, courage and compassion, liberty and love, for children and for us all, here we come!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate — shown here judging World of Chocolate, an AIDS Foundation of Chicago fundraiser, February 2023,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Uplift Founder 

Professor Valerie Beck Tutoring and Coaching

LinkedIn | Instagram

valerie.beck@post.harvard.edu

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

Wholesale

Welcome to Chocolate Uplift craft chocolate brokering, consulting, and wholesale distribution!

New —

Here are the links to the CocoaTown webinar I was honored to hold on How to Work with a Distributor:  Webinar and About Valerie Beck [videos]

Details:

How to Work with a Distributorwebinar as part of the CocoaTown series:

Join Valerie Beck, Founder of Chocolate Uplift, called the Chocolate Auntie, as she takes us through the ins and outs of finding the right distributor and building a relationship that works for you and your business. She will guide us through the processes step by step.

Date: Saturday, September 11, 2021
Time: 10:00 am – 12 Noon Atlanta time (-4 GMT)
Topic: Working With a Distributor
Presenter: Valerie Beck, Founder of Chocolate Uplift, called the Chocolate Auntie 

Link to register – https://forms.gle/LYUvdDoax6wf1CcH8

Update here are the slides from my webinar! I placed a great deal of information into the notes sections, so be sure to click Show Speaker Notes under View if you want to see everything!

Here I am, Valerie Beck, “the chocolate Auntie,” dancing at home in Chicago with craft chocolate bars I featured in my birthday box and at my virtual birthday party last year!

Chocolate brands that I broker (drop-shipping directly from the chocolate maker) or distribute (I stock and ship) or consult to (getting them ready for distribution, upgrading packaging and labeling, or other services) — for some brands it’s all of these — are generally the brands I also feature in the virtual or in-person chocolate tastings I hold, and for other special events including IG Lives or other videos, as well as in special blog posts. And they’re the brands I feature on my Instagram, along with the retailers who carry them!

All photos there, and here, are by me!

Please contact me at valerie@chocolateuplift.com with any questions or for the latest prices, and scroll down for more details, photos, testimonials, and ideas. Thank you!

It’s all about uplift!

As a chocolate distributor and broker and all-around chocolate collaborator, I help bean-to-bar chocolate brands get onto shelves. Before that, if needed, I help them get ready to get onto shelves.

I sell wholesale, and arrange for upscale retailers, coffee shops, and chefs to purchase wholesale and to carry top ethical craft chocolate brands made in the US or elsewhere.

Here are my bios, in case you’d like to know about my background, Harvard education, past career as a lawyer, and how I came to be a chocolate services professional such as by founding Chicago Chocolate Tours [video montage!] and more over 15 years ago! I have loved and studied chocolate all my life.

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If you are a craft chocolate maker, depending on your goals,

  • I can help you get your chocolate into the right shops and boutiques or onto the right websites for online sales.
  • I can also help you get ready for distribution or for access to stores that match your ethos, with my consulting services such as
    • writing and proofreading,
    • brand strategy,
    • US import assistance, or
    • package redesign.
  • It’s important that you know where your chocolate goes, and that we have a fit on all sides. My work is not transaction-based but relationship-focused.
  • This relationship approach is why some makers call me “the chocolate Auntie” : ) and I feel very honored that they do!

Testimonial:

“We love working with Valerie and Chocolate Uplift as distributor and representative of everything OBOLO in the market.    We have shared people-centered values focusing on highest quality chocolate, fairness and sustainability.  Valerie goes the extra mile to make sure our chocolate is in the best retail locations and well represented.”

Testimonial:

“Valerie’s advisory has been of tremendous value for us! Her work ethics, moral values and broad knowledge + expertise on many and diverse aspects ranging from specialty cacao and fine-chocolate, to marketing and content creations, as well as her great understanding of the bureaucracy and regulations to import chocolates to the USA, and not least her awesome distribution network, makes her a great candidate for anyone seeking help from a consultant on these matters! We feel very fortunate to count with her as an active special advisor on our team!” 

Testimonial:

“Valerie is an exceptional human being that has taken the endeavor of promoting the chocolate craft movement based on her 5 S principles, Slavery free, Soy free, Sustainable, Small batch and Scrumptious!   Her vast experience in the field of bean-to-bar movement and her personal charm has helped many small batch producers from small countries, like myself (El Salvador), improve and reach global quality.” 

If you are a retailer, whether brick-and-mortar, online, or both,

  • I’ll create and maintain your chocolate program, or
  • provide multiple brands or just a brand or two if that’s what you need, 
  • for your specialty market, cafe, wine shop, coffee shop, or other retail concept, or your hotel or other hospitality venture.
  • You’ll have products by top chocolate makers, that align with your brand, and that your customers or guests will feel uplifted to discover!
  • New: if you’re in Chicago or the area, you can pick up certain orders from me through free “curbside pickup” and receive additional free samples as a thanks for coming by, plus any of my Golden Age cookies I may have baked that day : ) Contact me at valerie@chocolateuplift.com to arrange.

Testimonial:

Valerie provides everything that I could ask for from a broker/distributor. Her customer service is exceptional and I greatly appreciate her alerts to new brands and products that she knows I may like based on my quality standards and items that sell well with my customers, plus she wholeheartedly understands and respects my quality standards. Her response time to questions is quick and her responses are very thorough. I always gain insightful information when talking with Valerie and working with her is a pleasure.

Testimonial:

Valerie is amazing for her dedication to discovering world class chocolate from all over the world while maintaining the highest ethical standards for economic empowerment, sustainability, and health.

Special packages or promotional opportunities include:

  • Displays for Holiday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day (the “Big 3” times of year for artisan chocolate!) —
Valentine’s Day chocolate love!

  • Chocolate from specific places, or made from cacao from specific countries such as Ecuador, Mexico, or Peru, or regional displays like this Midwest Moments selection —
Midwest magic!
  • Woman chocolate maker displays —
Women in chocolate!
  • New product launches, or promotions to support places like Haiti or a specific cause —
New product launch by woman-owned Askanya of Haiti

  • Retailer and brand promotions —
Gotham Chocolates at SPACE519

  • Seasonal or color-themed displays —
Orange zing!
Purple power!
Yellow burst!
Greenery!

Autumn celebration
Giftable tins for Holiday and beyond

Don’t forget: hot chocolate is a huge seller in winter!

  • Recipe ideas —
Chocolate chip pecan fruit pie, with craft chocolate, of course!

The brands I work with meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch
  • scrumptious!
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I represent award-winning or otherwise high-reputation small-batch brands including those pictured here and more, at the same price to you as buying direct, but with my troubleshooting, recommendations, streamlined ordering of multiple brands, new product introductions, and social media support to provide exposure and drive demand. 

Contact me for more information or the full Chocolate Uplift portfolio and price lists.

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If I don’t love the quality, sustainability, or ingredients of a brand, I don’t represent it or recommend it. I share with you only what I love and trust in terms of flavor and source, so that you and your customers can love and trust it too.

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​Backstory if you’re curious: my distribution and brokering started very organically. Running the original chocolate tours in cities across the US [video!], I started getting asked by chocolate shop and cafe owners on my tour routes to let them know of any interesting chocolate brands I came across that might be a good fit for their stores.

I also started meeting more and more chocolate makers who had an excellent product and needed introductions to top retailers, plus wholesaling, consulting, storage, and delivery.

By connecting retailers and makers, and driving demand with social media and email marketing, Chocolate Uplift brokering and wholesale distribution contains elements of consulting, to make sure the right bars are on the right shelves, to delight your customers, meet your goals, and enhance your brand, always with mutual respect and a win-win attitude.

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I look forward to discussing what I can do for you!

A peek at some of my shelves!
I’m a lifelong true chocolate lover, and even decorate with chocolate wrapper art that I frame myself! : )
With a freshly opened cocoa pod on a small family cacao farm in Ecuador

​

At home in Chicago, sweet Jorji the Cat is our sometime recycling coordinator and cacao pod investigator!
Can you spot the Dick Taylor Chocolate print behind Jorji?
A favorite breakfast of mine: fruit, cacao nibs, chocolate!

You can contact me any time at valerie@chocolateuplift.com with thoughts or questions. I’d love to hear from you!

Your friend — or Auntie! — in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

Cacao Harvest with OBOLO Chocolate

In the rainforest: OBOLO Chocolate visits a Pangoa, Peru, cacao harvest

Hello!

Isn’t it nice to find authenticity? Authentic chocolate, made from authentic cacao, traded authentically, nourishing people and planet.

OBOLO Chocolate founder Mark Gerrits is originally from Milwaukee and is a long-time resident of South America, where he has focused on environmentalism and most recently cacao and chocolate. He and his family live in Santiago, Chile, and he visited the Pangoa cacao collective in Peru this summer, which is where he buys the cacao from which he and his team make their award-winning chocolate in Chile. Exciting news: Mark is now the godfather of a new baby born to Pangoa growers!

As a US importer and distributor of awesome OBOLO Chocolate, I video chatted with dear Mark today, and told him how much I enjoyed the photos and videos he posted from his recent trip. He told me he is the first visitor to the Pangoa collective since the current global situation began, and that he believes not only in maintaining and strengthening relationships but also in showing the world that he means what he says: his partnership with Pangoa is authentic; his cacao is truly traceable, and ethical, as it is grown with no child labor and it is organic.

As you may know, all of the brands I work with meet my 5 Ss of first-class bean-to-bar chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch
  • scrumptious!

Mark gave me permission to re-post his Pangoa photos, and you can see more on OBOLO’s Instagram.

You can purchase selections of OBOLO bars at

Tell them Valerie sent you!

OBOLO Chocolate on the shelves at Cocoa & Co. in Chicago

You can also see more about OBOLO in my posts here (including video) and here. And, at the bottom of this post I’m sharing OBOLO-focused photos I took at the Craft Chocolate Experience in San Francisco in March 2020, where I got to spend time with Mark — and so many other chocolate makers and chocolate lovers, plus photos from my own little distribution center and staging area here in sweet home Chicago!

Enjoy this photo-journey to a cacao harvest in Peru, where you’ll see the opening of a cacao pod, and fermenting, drying, and sorting the cacao, and Pangoa families!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

With Mark and team member Brayan at the Craft Chocolate Experience, San Francisco, March 2020

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift — Craft Chocolate Services

Wholesale, Retail, Consulting, Speaking

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

Instagram: @chocolateuplift

OBOLO tote bags possibly coming soon to the online retail boutique! I get so many compliments on mine! : )

Online Boutique


VAICACAO 100% Ceremonial Cacao Drinking Chocolate, available in my new online boutique!

Welcome!

Here is where you’ll find specific craft chocolate items that you’ll find nowhere else in Chicago, or nowhere else in the US!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChocolateUplift

I’ve curated an elite selection of products from my larger catalogue of brands that I import or distribute.

Why? Because customers from the chocolate tours days ask when I’m going to open a chocolate shop, which is so kind.

Because chocolate makers and wholesale buyers and I sometimes find that there are items that aren’t conducive to wholesale sales.

Through my online boutique, I can return to retail sales, with no conflict of interest with my wholesale sales. And, I can offer you exclusive items that I hope you will love as much as I do.

Everything in the boutique of course meets my 5 Ss of first-class chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free (and industrial additive-free)
  • sustainable (and soil-regenerative)
  • small-batch and
  • scrumptious!
Chocolate Almond Spread from BelĂş Cacao, which I import into the US from El Salvador, made with no oils and no dairy, just almonds, cacao, and artisanal panela sugar!
This set of 2 elegant 9th & Larkin Chocolate bars is made from 2 different Vietnam cacaos, for 2 different flavor experiences.

Thank you and enjoy!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

DistributionOnline BoutiqueVirtual Tastings

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

@chocolateuplift on Instagram

Thoughts (and chocolate) for Loving Day and Juneteenth

Hello! Happy solstice, a day to mark planetary shifts!

Below are a couple of my social media posts on two other big days in June — Loving Day, and Juneteenth — plus chocolate to go with them!

Enjoy!

Valerie Beck is in Chicago, Illinois.
June 11 at 2:19 PM ·

Happy Loving Day tomorrow, June 12!

No, it’s not another Valentine’s Day, though it could be! Loving Day celebrates interracial marriage, by marking the anniversary of the unanimous US Supreme Court decision in 1967 in the case of Loving v Virginia, which said no state can make interracial marriage illegal, and that blacks and whites and anybody else can legally marry each other or anyone of any background. This recognition of freedom to marry who you choose also underpins the later 2015 US decision recognizing same-sex marriage, so happy Pride Month too!

It always seemed like common sense or basic human rights to me, to live as you choose and love whom you choose, without interference from government, oligarchs, vigilantes, or anyone else. Maybe that’s in part because as you may know, I come from a mixed race and mixed religion family! In case you’re curious, this post in another one of my blogs, Diary of My Disastrous Law Career, gives you a bit of background on my family, plus fun vintage photos!

So, I’ve gathered here today some delicious craft chocolate that explicitly represents love — Chocolatasm‘s Hawaii salt chocolate hearts, the Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate Love & Happiness raspberry orange olive oil chocolate bar, and the Violet Sky Onward & Upward Love rose and pistachio chocolate bar on which I collaborated, plus Love-themed snacking cacao by Good King Cacao — to say happy Loving Day, and here’s to our human birthright of love, liberty, and unity! May we deepen and expand these elements in our hearts and in our world, for the Golden Age of empathy and equality!

#lovingday

Valerie Beck is in Chicago, Illinois.
Yesterday at 1:10 PM ·

Hello! Happy #Juneteenth!

This date [June 19] marks the ending of (1st-wave) slavery in the United States. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the Civil War over slavery, yet enslaved people achieved liberation over an elongated period of time, culminating on June 19, 1865, in Texas.

But wait, you or people of the future may ask: aren’t all people born free, as expressions of the One Great Soul, and isn’t it true that no political or social (or tech-med) structure shall violate the fundamental principles that people are to care for people (e.g. love thy neighbor) and exercise their own liberty and free will while respecting that of others?

Of course!

To celebrate eternal inviolable liberty, how about a delicious liberation brunch of Crow & Moss Chocolate of Michigan, and Xocolatl Chocolate cacao nibs, on cinnamon toast with berries, all organic?

But wait, you may ask: what makes this a liberation brunch? Here comes one of my it’s-all-connected stories : )

My mother often made cinnamon toast for us kids when we were growing up, so I always think of her when I make it! She spent part of her childhood in Michigan, on a small family farm in a township that had been illegally racially integrated since its founding in the 1860s. That’s not a typo: racial mixing was illegal in the US, mixing of the One Human Family, in the North too. But people in Mom’s area did it anyway because it was ethical and practical, sending their black children and their white children to the same school for example. When my mother spent a summer with relatives in the South as a little girl in the 1950s (the time of 2nd-wave slavery: brutal “Jim Crow” apartheid), she was horrified by the abuses against black people. Now the laws have changed, and segregation is illegal, yet it happens in many ways including incarceration where prisoners work for the state or corporations for little or no pay (part of 3rd-wave slavery), or consider West Africa where over 2 million black kids work in hazardous or slavery conditions on cacao farms so corporations can sell cheap chocolate.

Mom never bought Aunt Jemima “slavery syrup,” and doesn’t buy slavery chocolate. VoilĂ ! @ Chicago, Illinois

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Rad Dads: Men Who Craft Chocolate and Equality [video, shopping links]

Hello!

Click for my chat with “rad dad” bean-to-bar chocolate makers Matt Weyandt of Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta, and Mark Gerrits of Obolo Chocolate of Santiago, Chile, about craft chocolate and crafting equality [video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast] and scroll down to the end of this post to shop.

Happy June!

This is the month of the Solstice, and of liberation celebrations such as Loving Day and Juneteenth, which all represent types of awakenings. June is also the month of Father’s Day, which could represent an awakening to equality and to what leadership could look like reimagined for an enlightened society.

For example, if we believe that Black Lives Matter, don’t we also agree that Black African lives matter, that it is monstrous that 2.1 million Black African children work as cacao farmers in hazardous conditions in Cote d’Ivoire so that big chocolate brands can take the local cacao and sell cheap global chocolate, and that these big brands and their sales and distribution channels must immediately stop using child slave labor? This is the #ChocolateFreedomProject I talk about: bringing awareness and an end to child slave labor on West African cacao farms that supply cocoa beans for 70% of the world’s chocolate.

Similarly, if we believe that white people should not have power or privilege over black or brown people (I would change words like white and black, by the way, to more accurate terms, less fraught with metaphor; any suggestions?), don’t we also believe that masculine should not have power or privilege over feminine, and, going further, government officials and corporate oligarchs should not have power or privilege over people; going all the way: no one should have power or privilege over anyone.

Implementing true respect for all in the human family necessitates a reimagining of not just individual relationships, but also of economic and government structures and of the patriarchal colonial capitalist oligarchy in which our world operates. Why not a new Golden Age of empathy and equality, where we care for people and planet, and believe in equal participation?

Maybe I should have warned you that when I put Equality in the title of this blog post, I meant it, all the way!

To explore our theme of equality, I invited two dear craft chocolate maker friends and clients of mine — Mark Gerrits of Ă“BOLO Chocolate, and Matt Weyandt of Xocolatl Chocolate — to chat with me on Instagram Live as part of the Stay Home With Chocolate festival, Father’s Day edition. Thank you to these gentlemen-supermen for sharing their time and thoughts! Click for a low-tech video-of-a-video version of our IG Live, on my YouTube channel! [video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast]

Craft chocolate gives us a delicious view into an equitable way of life, because it involves a supply chain and products that meet my 5 Ss of ethical chocolate:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free and industrial additive-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch and
  • scrumptious!
Set-up on my kitchen counter for our Instagram Live chat.

Click for a low-tech video-of-a-video version of our IG Live, and click below to shop:

[video on YouTube, recorded from our Instagram Live broadcast]

Xocolatl Chocolate — use code HEALTHY20 for 20% off

Yahara Chocolate of Wisconsin — online ordering for shipment anywhere, use code chocolateuplift for 10% off Ă“BOLO Chocolate, Xocolatl Chocolate, or other brands

Xocolatl and Obolo are also available at these retailers who are open as of the time of writing:

As always, if you are looking for a specific bar or brand or general type of craft chocolate, you can use my free Chocolate Finder service: just send me a message and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for!

As you may know, I typically don’t sell retail; instead my business Chocolate Uplift sells and distributes craft chocolate bars like the ones listed above wholesale to retailers, and I also provide consulting services to chocolate makers and cacao farm owners, and speaking engagements to the public and for meetings and events.

Thank you, and keep eating ethical chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

With Mark of Ă“BOLO (left) and Scott of Totto’s Market
With Matt of Xocolatl (right) and team

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

[Article] Uplift Through Cacao: Tanzania Cacao from Kokoa Kamili

Hello!

tanzania cacao
Delicious craft chocolate made from ethical Kokoa Kamili Tanzania cacao, and Kokoa Kamili cacao nibs, gathered in my kitchen

Thinking of Earth Day, and dreaming of global health systems that work for people and planet, I’m excited to share an inspiring article in Saveur on cacao from the innovative Kokoa Kamili cacao social enterprise in Tanzania.

The Best Chocolate In Africa

How one Tanzania chocolate company is helping farmers grow better cacao—and demand a better price.

Hilary Hueler

April 7, 2020

Working with 4,000 farmers in the lush Kilombero Valley, Kokoa Kamili ferments and dries the cacao, providing quality cacao to many of the craft chocolate makers I work with — such as those whose chocolate bars are pictured here and below — and uplifting growers with higher pay in the process!

The cacao and the resulting chocolate meet my 5 Ss:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free and industrial additive-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch
  • scrumptious!

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Additional wonderful craft chocolate brands I work with who buy cacao from Kokoa Kamili (also gathered in my kitchen)

Enjoy this wonderful article with excellent descriptions and photos of the cacao process and of the beautiful local environment, and keep eating real chocolate that supports people and planet!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

tanzania fans
Introducing Kokoa Kamili co-founder Simran Bindra (back right) to Lan (front right) and Brian (back left) of 9th & Larkin Chocolate, who had already purchased his cacao and made delicious chocolate from it, at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

tanzania chefs choc

tanzania dandelion nibs

tanzania dandelion

tanzania kokoa kamili

Caribbean Cacao

Hello!

**Update: three wonderful craft chocolate bars made with Caribbean cacao, by 9th & Larkin Chocolate, Crow & Moss Chocolate, and Sirene Chocolate, are in the April 2020 issue of Luckbox Magazine in a clever piece on rum, chocolate, and cigar combinations, along with chocolate tasting notes by yours truly; click for the digital edition and see pp. 36 – 38! Thank you LuckboxMag and TastyTrade! **

chocolate from caribbean cacao
Crow & Moss Chocolate, Sirene Chocolate, Bixby Chocolate, 9th & Larkin Chocolate

What do these chocolate bars have in common?

Yes, they all meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate in that they are:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free and additive-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch and
  • scrumptious!

In addition, they are all made from cacao grown in the Caribbean!

When you think of food and drink of the Caribbean, maybe you think of excellent rum, cane sugar, jerk chicken. Cacao and chocolate also have important and delicious roots in Caribbean soil.

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Cacao from Guatemala…

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…in a small-batch grinder for 72 hours, to become chocolate.

The Caribbean islands became a major part of the cacao industry in the 1500s, after European colonizers brought cacao from native lands in South America to the islands for cultivation and export to Europe. Spain controlled most of the trans-Atlantic cacao trade from South America, so by growing cacao in the Caribbean, the English — and Dutch pirates — were able to compete. Slave labor was often used, and when slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873, profits went down, and commercial cacao-growing in the Caribbean became less important to Europe, especially as West African farms were being exploited and people there were finding themselves slave laborers.

Today, 2.1 million children work on cacao farms in Cote d’Ivoire, most in slavery or hazardous conditions, generally without schooling and often away from their family homes, so that we can have cheap chocolate in the west. The big brands are complicit, as articles and more articles reveal.

Good news: the rise of artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate made from ethical, traceable, single-origin cacao, provides a new opportunity for growing cacao in the Caribbean, in a way that supports people and planet.

crow and moss zorzal

For example, Reserva Zorzal in the Dominican Republic is a sustainable cacao farm plus bird sanctuary, where plants and animals live in a mutually beneficial ecosystem. The cacao is grown for quality, not quantity, and you can taste this in a chocolate bar like the one made by Crow & Moss Chocolate of Northern Michigan. The chocolate bar contains just 2 ingredients: cacao and sugar — all you need to make chocolate! My tasting notes:

Deep notes of cherry, caramel, and cinnamon, opening into earthy fudginess, and coming up to conclude on a lightly grape-meets-fennel finish. Long finish. Some complexity, yet relatively straightforward, with clarity, without muddiness. True to the bean. No bitterness. Ultimately interesting, balanced, accessible.

Those flavors are all from the cacao, and from how Mike Davies, founder of Crow & Moss and a professional baker and hobby farmer, roasts and grinds the cacao into chocolate in his 2,000 square foot manufactory.

crow and moss ingredients

crow and moss back

crow and moss pieces

Tasting the Caribbean through chocolate is exciting, and let me know if you’d like to travel with me to the source, as I am talking with Zorzal founder Chuck Kerchner, a PhD in forestry, about special upscale agri-tours to his cacao estate in the Dominican Republic.

caribbean cacao to chocolate
My brief tasting notes on these bars: *Crow & Moss Chocolate, Zorzal Dominican Republic 70% — fruity, rich, complex, fudgey. *Sirene Chocolate, Lachua Guatemala 73% — fruit notes open to herbal, gentle spice, and caramel notes; a very sophisticated bar. *Bixby Chocolate, Guatemala 70% — grape and raisin notes, deep, solid feel. *9th & Larkin, Dominican Republic Oko-Caribe 72% — bright notes, subtle, precision-focused.

In the meantime, you can find selections of the four brands featured here at stores like these:

9th & Larkin — The Grail Cafe, Totto’s Market

Bixby Chocolate — Beacon Hill Chocolates, Honeycreeper Chocolate, Rare Bird Preserves, Spilt Milk Pastry, Yahara Chocolate

Crow & Moss Chocolate — The Grail Cafe, Totto’s Market

Sirene Chocolate — Brew Brew Coffee and Tea, Cocoa + Co., Honeycreeper Chocolate, Totto’s Market, Yahara Chocolate

Keep eating craft chocolate — onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valerie and kate
Here I am (left) with Chef Kate McAleer of Bixby Chocolate, at last year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago. My dress just happens to match the brand. Kate matches on purpose.

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Insta: @chocolateuplift

 

Repost: Healthy Dark Chocolate, How to Choose and Buy the Best

Hello!

good king peace
Before bean to bar: chocolate comes from cacao, which is full of health benefits and which makes chocolate healthy — if done right. Good King makes spiced snacking cacao, in a variety of flavors from sweet to savory to spicy, to eat like any other nuts or as trail mix, and it is healthy and delicious!

Is all dark chocolate created equal?

Does all dark chocolate provide health benefits?

Find the answers to these questions and more in the excellent new blog post “Healthy Dark Chocolate” by dear Kim Wilson of Good King, a woman-powered social enterprise that makes delicious trail mix-style snacking cacao!

For example, see myth #3 in the article to find out why a higher cacao percentage doesn’t automatically mean more antioxidants, which popular or so-called premium brands are made in a way that decreases antioxidants by nearly 80%, and which brands will give you the health benefits you’re looking for.

Thank you, Kim, for busting myths and sharing facts, because knowledge is power!

The blog article is here, and you can buy delicious Good King snacking cacao online at the link here, or at Totto’s Market in Chicago.

Enjoy!

good king at tottos
Good Food Award-winning Good King snacking cacao, at glorious Totto’s Market, in sweet home Chicago!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valerie and kim
With amazing Good King founder Kim Wilson (right) in sweet Seattle, where she is based, during the Northwest Chocolate Festival. And yes: we match!

 

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift — Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

good kinggood king good food award