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 Belú 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

Child-labor abuses in the global supply chain, and Food of The Gods: Simran Sethi articles

Hello!

Here are two excellent articles by my friend Simran Sethi, whom I met in 2014 on Vicente Norero’s original Camino Verde cacao farm in Ecuador when she was researching her excellent book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.

The first article below is about the US court case we’ve been following for 15 years, filed by former child slaves in West Africa who escaped.

The second article below shows you how chocolate goes from bean to bar and some of the people involved in the craft chocolate community.

Onward and upward!

1.

Can U.S. chocolate companies be liable for child-labor abuses in the global cocoa supply chain?

by Simran Sethi

06.02.2021

“One-third of children in Ghana and Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions are involved in child labor.”

Full article here.

2.

Food of the Gods

with recipes by Alice Medrich

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

Distribution, Online Boutique, Virtual Tastings

valerie@chocolateuplift.com

@chocolateuplift on Instagram

Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala + Virtual Chocolate Tasting

Optional chocolate tasting kit for the the virtual craft chocolate tasting I’ll hold May 25 at 7pm CT for the Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala! Register for this free event and others at imermanangels.org/gala, and
for the optional kit send $50 to me via paypal at chocolateuplift@gmail.com (includes US shipping). Proceeds will go to Imerman Angels. (Hat and jacket not included; these are mine and you can get yours here!)

Hello!

Chocolate for a cause and for connection:

I’m honored to serve on the board of Imerman Angels, a nonprofit started by my dear friend Jonny Imerman, where the mission is “to provide comfort and understanding for all cancer fighters, survivors, previvors and caregivers through a personalized, one-on-one connection with someone who has been there.”

Essentially, that means one-on-one mentorship for anyone affected by cancer, free of charge. I love the uplifting human-to-human work that Jonny and his team do, around the world.

Here I am modeling my Imerman Angels hat, which was made by
CLOZTALK and is available here with other merchandise!

And, I’m honored to support the Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala, a series of free online events in May, by holding a special chocolate tasting on Tuesday, May 25, at 7:00 pm CT! Having founded the world’s first chocolate tours years ago from an idea I had when I was 19, having grown the business to 50 team members in 4 cities, and now focusing on craft chocolate distribution, consulting, and tastings, what a joy it is for me to put together this virtual chocolate tasting. (Click if you’re curious about my bio or “sizzle reel” [video])!

Our topic will be: How to Identify Sustainable Craft Chocolate, and we will have a fun, fascinating, and delicious time! Cacao has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being an immune-boosting superfood, so a chocolate tasting to support a cancer mentorship organization just makes sense, beyond the fact that chocolate always makes sense, right! : )

You can register for the chocolate tasting and any of the other events at imermanangels.org/gala, and if you’d like to purchase chocolate to enjoy during the tasting, with proceeds going to Imerman Angels, you may do so by sending $50 to me via PayPal at chocolateuplift@gmail.com or paypal.me/chocolateuplift. The price includes US shipping. Please include your mailing address.

Here is the chocolate I’ve selected for our tasting — all made by wonderful clients of my craft chocolate distribution business, Chocolate Uplift — while quantities last:

Official Imerman Angels craft chocolate kit!
  • Crow & Moss Chocolate of Petoskey, Michigan: India Anamalai 70%. This delicious dairy-free chocolate bar is made from just 2 ingredients — cacao and sugar, all you need! The cacao is grown on a family-owned farm in India, and the chocolate bar gives notes of mango, lime, and honey, all from the cacao. This exciting new brand, created by a young couple in Northern Michigan — chef-turned-chocolate-maker Mike Davies and graphic designer Danielle Davies — just had to be in my line-up because Jonny Imerman, founder of Imerman Angels, is a University of Michgan alum, as are several of the team members and board members. (My mother grew up on a small family farm in Michigan, so it’s all connected!)

  • Dick Taylor Chocolate of Eureka, California: Hazelnut Milk Chocolate 55%. Made from single-origin Brazil cacao, Oregon hazelnuts, and old-fashioned A2/A2 milk from a local Northern California family farm, this is a sophisticated, non-sweet, and truly sumptuous milk chocolate bar that dark chocolate lovers love too. Founders Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick chose A2/A2 milk because it contains enzymes that are said to be more digestible. Like most of the brands and bars I work with, this chocolate bar is organic, so it contains no GMOs, no herbicides or pesticides, and cane sugar instead of refined sugar. Plus, it is just so tasty, it is one of those can’t-stop-eating-it bars!

  • Gotham Chocolates of New York City: Independent 70%. Award-winning pastry chef Ron Paprocki started this craft chocolate brand in the kitchen of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar & Grill, in order to have just the chocolate he wanted for desserts in the restaurant. Now the chocolate has taken on a life of its own — or taken over some lives, as chocolate will do, I’m happy to confirm! — and Chef Ron with Gotham owner Bret Csencsitz have created a precision-focused brand, wrapped in art inspired by Ellsworth Kelly, one of whose works hung near the restaurant kitchen. This 2-ingredient bar (remember — cacao and sugar: all you need!) is made from a blend of 2 cacaos, estate-grown in Ecuador and wild in Bolivia, and gives complex notes of whisky and wine; you may want to pair this bar with the wines in the wine tasting event that will also be part of Spirit Week, for a like-with-like tasting experience!

  • Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta: Dark & Salty 80%. Are you concerned that an 80% dark chocolate bar might be bitter or dry? This bar shows that 80% can be smooth, silky, and flavorful, with quality cacao, and quality chocolate-making! The cacao in this bar was grown in Uganda by the Semuliki Forest collective of around 1,000 family farmers, and I love the warm rich notes of cinnamon and fig on a core note of straight-ahead chocolate — all from the cacao and how it is turned into chocolate. The chocolate itself is made from — you guessed it, cacao and sugar: all you need! — and Xocolatl wife-husband owners Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt and team add some vanilla bean-infused sea salt for a bright dash of zing. This is Team Xocolatl’s newest and current favorite bar, and I also just had to choose it because our Jonny Imerman is a fan of 100% chocolate bars (= no sugar, just cacao), and this easy-to-love 80% bar was as close as I thought I could get to 100% and still have absolutely everyone love it (100% bars are totally loveable too, just perhaps more of an acquired taste! : )
First-class craft chocolate

What exactly do these bars have in common? They are all created by incredibly kind people I’m honored to call friends and clients, and they all meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate:

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

We’ll talk more at our virtual event about how to identify ethical craft chocolate bars like these. Whether you purchase the chocolate kit (or would rather just watch me eating it haha!) I hope you’ll join the Imerman Angels Spirit Week 2021 Gala!

By the way, someone asked me how long I’ve known Jonny Imerman; I just joined the board this past year, but Jonny and I have been friends for more than a decade, and have always admired each other’s work, and here’s an old photo (of a photo) of us from 2007!

That’s us in the upper left in 2007! How do we still look the same today after all these years? Must be the chocolate! : )

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Consulting, Distribution, Speaking

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

The chocolate tasting kits are…
Going fast!

Chocolate Uplift and HLSWA

**Update 12/16/2020: What a fun, fascinating, and delicious chocolate tasting we had today via video conference! Thank you for your awesome participation, or for visiting this page even if you didn’t have the chance to join the call!

As promised, here are links to shop the craft chocolate bars from the different sets, plus links to retailers who buy wholesale from me and where you can find multiple craft chocolate brands including many of the below; please note that not all bars are available in all countries at the current time:

Brands in our sets

9th & Larkin Chocolate of San Francisco, woman-owned, Lan puts her husband to work roasting cacao sometimes

Baiani Chocolates of Brazil, wife/husband-owned, wife Juliana is the chocolate maker

Crow & Moss Chocolate of Michigan, husband is chocolate maker, wife does their graphic design

Dick Taylor Chocolate of Eureka, California

Honest Chocolate of Cape Town, South Africa

Manoa Chocolate of Hawaii

Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta, wife/husband-owned, signatory to the Nestle and Cargill v Doe amicus brief linked below

VAICACAO of Italy, wife/husband-owned, both are chocolate makers

US retailers who will ship anywhere

Cocoa & Co., woman-owned in Chicago

Gourmet Boutique, woman-owned in Boston

Honeycreeper Chocolate, woman-owned in Birmingham, Alabama

Rare Bird Preserves, woman-owned in Oak Park, Illinois

Yahara Chocolate of Wisconsin, possibly the most extensive selection of craft chocolate anywhere

Please tell any of the brands or retailers I sent you!

I’d love to hear what you choose or what your favorites were from your set, or your thoughts on Nestle and Cargill v Doe, or thoughts or questions on anything else.

Thank you!

Valerie

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Feel free to follow me or say hi on Instagram at @chocolateuplift!

**

Hello!

I am excited and thankful for a special virtual chocolate tasting for the Harvard Law School Women’s Alliance, with my sister alumnae!

Below is the welcome letter going out with the craft chocolate tasting kits, and below that is information on the chocolate bars in the kits, and on how to recognize ethical chocolate, as well as updates on Nestle and Cargill v. Doe, a case about child slave labor in Big Chocolate brands in which the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Valerie

Valerie Beck (HLS ’96)

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Distribution and Consulting

Click for more about me, including bios and video!

Welcome Letter

Hello and welcome to our virtual chocolate tasting!

The craft chocolate bars I’ve selected are enclosed, and we’re going to have a fun, fascinating, and delicious time!

Here is our plan:

1. Anticipation: Please don’t eat the chocolate yet! (Step 1 is the hardest!) We can taste it together during the Final 2020 Chapters Call:

Date:  Wednesday, December 16

Time:  10:15 AM (PDT) / 1:15 PM (EDT) to 11:30 AM (PDT) / 2:30 PM (EDT)

Dial-in: Details to arrive electronically

2. Storage: I recommend storing your chocolate in a cool, dry place, and not in the refrigerator where the moisture can cause the chocolate to “bloom,” or develop chalkiness. 

3.  Tasting: During the call, I’ll walk us through a guided tasting so that we can talk about the history and health benefits of chocolate, how to recognize ethical chocolate, and a related recent Supreme Court case, and so that we can simply enjoy craft chocolate and a festive gathering!

For more information in advance about the chocolate bars in your kit and on craft chocolate in general — such as about my 5 Ss of first-class chocolate: slavery-free, soy-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious — please see www.chocolateuplift.com/hlswa

I look forward to our virtual chocolate tasting, and am grateful to HLSWA for hosting this special event!

Thank you, and happy holidays!

Valerie

Valerie Beck (HLS ‘96)

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift 

Craft Chocolate Distribution and Consulting

www.chocolateuplift.com

P.S. Here is my favorite Aztec-inspired hot chocolate recipe; feel free to sip during our presentation:

4 tablespoons drinking chocolate mix or finely chopped chocolate bar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon orange zest

Whisk dry ingredients with up to 1 cup hot water or your favorite milk, top with orange zest, and enjoy!

*****

Cacao pod from Ecuador

Ethical Chocolate

Commercial chocolate / big-brand chocolate comes from a supply chain with child labor, forced labor, and deforestation and other environmental degradations.

How to recognize and choose craft chocolate instead, which nourishes people and planet?

Look for my 5 Ss of first-class chocolate:

*slavery-free — Look for the cacao country of origin on the label. If you see none, chances are you have non-traceable bulk cacao, which comes from tainted supply chains.

*soy-free — Look for the presence or absence of soy lecithin or other processed ingredients on the label. These indicate industrial chocolate and also have negative health effects.

*sustainable — Does the brand tell you about the cacao they sourced, and about their packaging?

*small-batch — The big brands are all complicit in child labor, farmer poverty, deforestation, and overuse of chemical pesticides. Look for small brands making a difference.

*scrumptious! — Chocolate is about enjoyment!

Cacao nibs
In the grinder
Chocolate goes with everything!

*****

Tasting kits for our HLSWA virtual event

Chocolate bars in most US Mainland tasting kits:

  • @crowandmosschocolate Bolivian Rose Salt chocolate bar, made from Colombian cacao plus cane sugar, with a gentle sprinkling of Bolivian pink salt. This fruit-forward bar reminds me of childhood visits to Michigan, where my mom spent part of her childhood on a small family farm!
  • @dicktaylorchocolate Brazil, made in Eureka, California, is sophisticated and rich, and reminds me of the years I lived in Europe, where the idea to create the world’s first chocolate tours came to me, as a chocolate-obsessed exchange student in Paris in 1989!
  • @xocolatlchocolate Kissed Mermaids, made in Atlanta, is light, bright, and topped with cacao nibs, and you know how excited I get about cacao nibs, and about blue and white! A cheerful bar! Plus, this is the first batch on Uganda cacao (instead of Costa Rica), grown by the Semuliki Forest collective of around 1,000 family farmers, and I love the rich notes of warm spice on a core note of straight-ahead chocolate!

Alternate bar in NY/NJ kits:

Chocolate bars in a San Francisco tasting kit:

Photo by 9th & Larkin Chocolate

Craft chocolate brand in Hawaii tasting kit:

Photo by Manoa Chocolate

Craft chocolate brand in Brazil tasting kit:

Craft chocolate brand in Europe tasting kits:

Craft chocolate brand in South Africa tasting kit:

Photo by Honest Chocolate

*****

Cacao

Info on Nestle and Cargill v. Doe

Washington Post article

Video debrief featuring the attorney who made the recent argument before the Supreme Court, and other attorneys involved

Amicus brief filed by craft chocolate makers (including Xocolatl Chocolate, which we are tasting in our US Mainland kits)

Symposium of articles about the case from Just Security, based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law

*****

Thank you and keep eating real chocolate!

Chocolate Gift Set and Virtual Birthday Party

Hello! Happy December!

What do these craft chocolate bars have in common? They are the beautiful and delicious bars in a special set I’m assembling to celebrate my birthday on December 10!

Be among the first to purchase the set, and I’ll invite you to join a Google Meet birthday party with me that weekend, to talk about the chocolate bars and more! (Party hats optional!)

The sets will ship the week of my birthday, and you can shop now, for yourself or for gifts, by sending $51 (why that number? Haha! : ) to me via PayPal at chocolateuplift@gmail.com or paypal.me/chocolateuplift. The price includes US shipping. Please let me know where to send the chocolate.

For my birthday set, I’ve selected four bars that I love and that have special meaning for me:

  • @crowandmosschocolate Bolivian Rose Salt chocolate bar, made from Colombian cacao plus cane sugar, with a gentle sprinkling of Bolivian pink salt. This fruit-forward bar reminds me of childhood visits to Michigan, where my mom spent part of her childhood on a small family farm!
  • @dandelionchocolate Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador 70%, made in San Francisco from just 2 ingredients — cacao and sugar, all you need! — and with a precision-focus on flavor. Ecuador is the first place I visited cacao farms, and I also love that the bars are wrapped in upcycled Indian cotton!
  • @dicktaylorchocolate Brazil, made in Eureka, California, is sophisticated and rich, and reminds me of the years I lived in Europe, where the idea to create the world’s first chocolate tours came to me, as a chocolate-obsessed exchange student in Paris in 1989!
  • @xocolatlchocolate Kissed Mermaids, made in Atlanta, is light, bright, and topped with cacao nibs, and you know how excited I get about cacao nibs, and about blue and white! A cheerful bar! Plus, this is the first batch on Uganda cacao (instead of Costa Rica), grown by the Semuliki Forest collective of around 1,000 family farmers, and I love the rich notes of warm spice on a core note of straight-ahead chocolate!

What else do these bars have in common? They are all vegan, US-made, created by incredibly kind people I’m honored to call friends and clients, and of course they meet my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate:

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

For every set sold, I’ll donate a meal to CREER, a rescue center in Cote d’Ivoire for formerly trafficked kids including those trafficked onto cacao farms that supply Big Chocolate brands that rely on forced labor.

If you choose my birthday set, thank you! Let’s have some fun! Onward and upward!

#chocolatedistributor
#chocolateconsultant
#sweetspeaker

#ChocolateUplift

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Consulting, Distribution, Speaking

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Update: in my Ecuador “birthday party hat” at my virtual birthday party!
Update: dancing at my virtual birthday party!

Sweet Speaker: Virtual Chocolate Tastings

Hello!

*****New: Virtual Chocolate Tastings! I’ll be the “sweet speaker” at your next corporate or other event, even if it’s via Zoom, by bringing my chocolate and presentation expertise to you via a virtual chocolate tasting!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose your chocolate theme for my presentation, such as
    • History and Health Benefits of Chocolate,
    • Women in Chocolate, or
    • What’s In Your Chocolate: Making Conscious Chocolate Choices.
  2. I’ll send our agreed chocolate for the tasting to your location or to each participant prior to the event, so that participants can taste the chocolate live during the presentation.
  3. I’ll hold the presentation live on your Zoom or other platform, and we’ll have a blast! You can record it if you wish, to share with others in your organization.

The cost is the retail cost of the chocolate plus tax and shipping, plus a $30/person event fee. Or, we can arrange a flat fee; contact me at chocolateuplift@gmail.com to discuss.

Plus, you can choose from a rotating selection of fun Chocolate Uplift mugs and tees and the like from my merchandise store, with or without booking a virtual tasting. Custom merchandise is also available, such as with your logo and mine, or with a special message for your event participants!

Click here for my “sizzle reel” to get a sense of my presentation style through a montage of tv news clips, and click here for a recent podcast I did for the Chicago Bar Association Foundation on tasting chocolate and changing careers.

And, see below for my speakers one-sheet along with additional information, videos, bio, partial list of presentations and keynotes given, and testimonials like this one from Thanksgiving week 2020:

Hi Valerie,

The chocolate tasting was far beyond my expectations – thank you so much!! The chocolate selections were incredible and I’m so glad that everyone (especially the kids) got a better understanding of what goes into commercial vs. craft chocolate. You led us through everything so skillfully and we loved learning about the history and health benefits of chocolate. It was such a remarkable experience. I so appreciate your making it possible to experience it with my beloved sisters.

With admiration,
Laurie

Thank you, and I hope to see you or Zoom with you soon!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Consulting, Distribution, Speaking

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

***** Additional info: *****

Speaking

Request Chocolate Uplift founder and “sweet speaker” Valerie Beck as the speaker at your next convention, meeting, association conference, networking event, or other gathering, by contacting us at chocolateuplift@gmail.com.

Click for videos – such as

or click for Valerie’s bio, and see Valerie’s speakers one-sheet below.

“Onward and upward!”

Valerie Beck

Speaker, Entrepreneur, Author, Chocolate Expert

  •   Successful entrepreneur and founder of the original chocolate tours
  •   Cheerful chocolate expert
  •   Inspirational author
  •   Chocolate and business consultant
  •   Adjunct professor
  •   Former attorney
  •   Harvard College and Harvard Law grad
  •   Inspiring and uplifting speaker

Highlighted speaking topic: 

  • Chocolate Wellness: What’s In Your Chocolate?

Details: hear my tips on chocolate-enhanced wellness, presented in a fun and uplifting way, including:

  • the number 1 ingredient to beware of in commercial chocolate,
  • how to decode chocolate bar labels and identify the right kind of artisan chocolate,
  • how to maximize chocolate’s health benefits, 
  • how to avoid GMOs and artificial ingredients,
  • what “natural ingredients” are and why they sometimes mean you should back away from the shelf,
  • how to taste and enjoy craft chocolate – which we’ll do at the talk! – and
  • more!

‘Keep eating chocolate!'” ~ Valerie

Other requested speaking topics:

  • Ethical Chocolate: Sustainability Challenges and Solutions 
  • Chocolate: History, Health Benefits, Myths, Magnificence  
  • ABCs of Success: Attitude, Belief, Commitment
    • How to use these simple concepts for success in any business or endeavor
  •   Sweet Life: How to Follow Your Heart and Take Your Brain With You
    • Start discovering or keep refining your heart’s desire, and be a “practical dreamer”
  •   Alternative Careers for Lawyers
  •   Sweet Startup: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Passion, Profit, and Persistence
  •   Social Media Marketing
  •   Chocolate 2032: Trends in the World of Chocolate

Topics are customizable for your group. And presentations come with chocolate!

Client categories include: 

  •   Conventions and association meetings
  •   Law firms – particularly law firm women’s initiatives 
  •   Cruises
  •   Executives
  •   Students
  •   Women’s groups
  •   Corporate wellness days
  •   Corporate motivational days

Valerie has spoken at organizations including: 

  • Walgreens
  • Cigna
  • ASHRAE
  • other corporations ranging from small and mid-sized to Fortune 500
  • other large, mid-sized, and small non-profits
  • the Chicago Bar Association
  • The Law Bulletin
  • the U.S. Department of Education’s Council on Legal Education Opportunity
  • Northwestern Law School
  • her alma mater Harvard Law School
  • her alma mater Harvard College
  • University of Chicago
  • the Coleman Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Lexington College
  • DePaul University School of Hospitality
  • Loyola University
  • Kendall College
  • National Association for Catering and Events
  • National Customer Service Association
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with World Chicago and the US Department of State
  • Illinois Diversity Council
  • Chicago City Treasurer business education sessions
  • Culinary Historians of Chicago
  • Women’s Innovation Network – WIN
  • Geneva Women in Business
  • eWomenNetwork
  • Professional Women’s Network
  • Daily Herald Business Ledger

Testimonials 

“If you ever want to get fully enrobed in everything chocolate, then seek out Valerie Beck. She leaves no cacao bean unturned as she takes aficionados on a magic chocolate ride where one is dipped into artisanal producing, social awareness, and luscious tasting.”

  Scott Warner

  Culinary Historians of Chicago

“Valerie is an exuberant and extraordinary speaker who superbly involves the audience as she presents such interesting facts about chocolate and wellness.  She is very friendly and personable, yet a cylinder of dynamite showering listeners with delightful energy!  The manner in which she shares her heart, soul, lively humor and vast knowledge makes her presentations quite enjoyable.  Valerie is highly recommended as a speaker to your group!”

 Co-chair of ladies organization, Springfield, IL

“Valerie is an enthusiastic and engaging speaker who is passionate and knowledgeable about her topic.  Her comprehensive, informative and fun presentation was well received by our audience of professional and executive women.”

  Christine Osvald-Mruz

  Co-chair, STRIDES, Advancing Women in Business

“Valerie’s positive energy is contagious and her delivery is vivacious and engaging.   Every entrepreneur and professional can benefit from her uplifting messages and sensible business advice.  Listening to Valerie’s stories and expertise is guaranteed to be an inspiring and invigorating experience.”

   Erika Herrera

   Co-Founder, Sandpiper Imports Inc.

 “Valerie is charming, graceful and feminine. At the same time she is powerful, captivating and persuasive. She is knowledgeable about her subject matter and makes an excellent and very professional presentation. I’m looking forward to inviting her to speak to my group again..and again.”

  Patrice Turner

   Managing Director

  eWomenNetwork

 “Valerie Beck is an established speaker who is confident, well prepared and full of energy. She presents with enthusiasm, knowledge, and engagement. Her sunny perspective and will light up any room and is well loved by all. This bubbly professional is born to speak as getting in front of an audience comes naturally.  I highly recommend Valerie for your next speaking function.”

 Mary Doherty

 Send Out Cards

“Valerie is energetic and welcoming. As a speaker, her passion for others, supporting individuals in their personal and professional growth and for making a difference in people’s lives comes through. She is sincere, believable and engaging. I wouldn’t hesitate to invite her to share fables, enthusiasm and inspiration as a speaker.”

  Maureen Blaha

  Executive Director, National Runaway Safeline

“Since I saw Valerie present over three years ago, I can’t say enough about her endless charisma, business intelligence, passion, and professionalism. Valerie is not only a successful business owner, but a leader and an effective speaker in the business community. I highly value her expertise and would recommend her presentations to colleagues of any level.”

  Michael Moody, Author and Personal Trainer in Chicago   (www.michaelmoodyfitness.com)

Fees

[In person:] Generally $1,500 for nonprofit organizations, or $5,000 for law firms and corporations, plus travel and accommodations. Negotiable.

See Valerie in action in our videos, and contact us about booking Valerie as a “sweet speaker” for your organization: chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Here’s to Uplift Through Chocolate!

Valerie Beck bios and sizzle reel!

Hello!

Please click to watch my 3-minute “sizzle reel” video montage of TV segments, click here for my speaker’s one-sheet, and see below for my short and long bios. Thank you!

ABOUT

Chocolate expert and Harvard grad Valerie Beck is a chocolate industry entrepreneur, pioneer, and activist. Creator of the original chocolate tours, which she expanded to cities across the US with a team of 50, she is also a chocolate consultant, broker, and speaker, as well as a cheerful and engaging media personality.
She founded Chocolate Uplift to provide chocolate services to the trade, to the public, and to cacao growing nations, such as wholesale distribution of bean-to-bar chocolate, consulting to craft chocolate makers, and speaking engagements for groups and organizations of all kinds.
Email chocolateuplift@gmail.com to inquire about booking Valerie for media appearances, seminars, or consulting projects. And follow her on Instagram at @chocolateuplift.
Here’s to “uplift through chocolate!”
Valerie Beck
Founder and CEO

Short bio – longer version follows

Chocolate expert Valerie Beck is a pioneering entrepreneur in chocolate and hospitality. Valerie created the original Chicago Chocolate Tours, which she expanded to 4 cities across the US, grew to 50 employees, and ran for 10 years, educating and entertaining tens of thousands of people about the history, health benefits, production, and selection of first-class chocolate. Valerie’s business Chocolate Uplift currently brokers and distributes bean-to-bar chocolate made by craft artisan chocolate makers, and provides consulting services to cacao growers and chocolate makers, always with a focus on ethical chocolate and sustainability. In fact, her 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate are: slavery-free, soy-free and industrial additive-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious!

A Chicago native, Valerie graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After practicing law in Europe and the US, she founded the chocolate tours and Chocolate Uplift, and is also a popular speaker, writer, chocolate show judge, and media personality.

She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and supports formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Kendall College and UCLA Extension, spreading chocolate knowledge to new generations, and continues to work with students through her virtual tutoring business Valerie’s Infinity Tutoring. 

Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can improve our mood and the world!

Longer bio

Valerie Beck, founder of Chocolate Uplift bean-to-bar chocolate distribution and consulting, and of the original Chicago Chocolate Tours nationwide, also known as Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours, is a cheerful chocolate expert on TV and radio and in print, and has been profiled in multiple media outlets such as NBC, ABC, WGN TV, WGN Radio, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and Crain’s Chicago Business.

She is an upbeat and engaging speaker and blogger on all things chocolate. She speaks frequently on topics such as the history and health benefits of chocolate, such as in her presentation “What’s in Your Chocolate: Making Conscious Chocolate Choices,” where she teaches how to interpret labels to discern what’s really in your chocolate bar, and discusses her 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate, which are: slavery-free, soy-free and industrial additive-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious! She also speaks on business and motivational topics, with a chocolate twist, such as in her presentation on “The ABCs of Sweet Success: Attitude, Belief, Commitment.”

Her chocolate consulting work ranges from helping brands create and launch new chocolate bars, to helping cacao growing nations promote their products.

Valerie is also a popular judge at chocolate competitions such as the annual World of Chocolate event in Chicago, and at business plan and innovation competitions.

Valerie is a pioneer in the business of chocolate tourism and other chocolate services to the public, to the trade, and to cocoa growing nations. Chocolate Uplift is the umbrella for all of these offerings. Chocolate Uplift provides entertaining and educational services to the public including trips to chocolate festivals around the world, and chocolate wellness seminars. Chocolate Uplift also provides valuable services to the chocolate industry, such as consulting to chocolate brands particularly in the small-batch and fine chocolate categories, distributing bean-to-bar chocolate from makers to retailers, importing fair trade cocoa beans and chocolate baking discs directly from ethical sources, and arranging origin trips to cocoa farms for bean-to-bar chocolate makers and others. In addition, Valerie consults for cocoa growing nations such as Ecuador, to promote their ethical cacao and chocolate.

A Chicago native, Valerie created the first chocolate tours when she founded Chicago Chocolate Tours in 2005, to introduce chocolate lovers to small-batch chocolate shops and bakeries. With her team of “Choc Stars” she grew the business to become a well-known and award-winning tour company serving tens of thousands of chocolate lovers, with 50 employees, which opened in Philadelphia and Boston in 2009, and developed footprints in additional cities. In 2016, Valerie relaunched the business as Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours, with renewed focus on sustainable cacao and artisan chocolate.

Valerie invented the concept of the chocolate tour years earlier, when she was a 19-year-old Harvard College senior studying abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. She had been focused on chocolate since announcing at age 4 that she would drink milk only if it were chocolate. In Paris she fell in love with truly fine chocolate, and started taking her friends on informal excursions she developed to her favorite chocolate and pastry locations there and in Belgium.

Later, after graduating from Harvard Law School, Valerie practiced law in Chicago and Europe, and took the opportunity during her years in Europe to deepen her knowledge of chocolate and pastry.

Her awards include Influential Woman in Business from the Daily Herald Business Ledger, and Top 100 Woman Owned Businesses from the Philadelphia Business Journal. She has mentored many other entrepreneurs through Women’s Innovation Network – WIN, the Chicago City Treasurer’s small business program, and through private consulting.  

Her philanthropy of choice for her business is CARE, which helps women and families around the world exit poverty through entrepreneurship. Valerie is also exploring and creating projects such as her Chocolate Freedom Walk to help children forced into slave labor on the West African cacao farms that produce the bulk of the world’s chocolate, while she promotes fair trade and socially responsible chocolate. She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and supports formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Kendall College and UCLA Extension, spreading chocolate knowledge to new generations. Valerie continues to work with students through her virtual tutoring business Valerie’s Infinity Tutoring. 

Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can change everything from our mood, to the world!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

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. Voilà! @ 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