Repost NYTimes article: Everything You Don’t Know About Chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

dandelion dick taylor fruition
Three beloved bean-to-bar brands I shared at my talk at the Northwest Chocolate Festival were highlighted in the New York Times this month: Dandelion Chocolate, Dick Taylor Chocolate, and Fruition Chocolate.

It’s all about love, and I love this recent New York Times article:

The beloved bar has come a long way in quality and complexity. Here’s a primer on how it’s made, and how to choose the best and most ethically produced. 

 

A snippet:

…bean-to-bar chocolate makers obsess over the character and ethical origins of their beans.

This is in marked contrast to mainstream industrial chocolate, in which the beans are a commodity product, bought in bulk for price, not quality.

The best bean-to-bar chocolate makers (also called craft or micro chocolate makers) choose beans the way chefs choose tomatoes — obsessively, often visiting the farms where the beans are grown. They roast and grind the beans themselves before making them into chocolate bars.

The pastry chef and author David Lebovitz, who wrote “The Great Book of Chocolate,” compares bean-to-bar chocolate to natural wine. “It’s exciting and alive in a way that even really great regular chocolate isn’t,” he said. “It can surprise you.”

 

Journalist Melissa Clark also notes that her favorite craft chocolate bars include Dandelion Chocolate, Dick Taylor Chocolate, Fruition Chocolate, and Taza Chocolate, four of the brands I am honored to represent!

Here’s to brands that meet my 5 S’s:

  • slavery-free
  • soy-free and lecithin-free
  • sustainable
  • small-batch and
  • scrumptious!
taza rounds on zig zags
Beloved Taza Chocolate was also a favorite in the New York Times, and on a route of my Boston Chocolate Walking Tours back in the old chocolate tour days.

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

with leah and paul at dandelion
With Leah Hammerman and Paul Primozich of Dandelion Chocolate
with dahlia and bryan
With Dahlia Rissman Graham and Bryan Graham of Fruition Chocolate

 

with dustin and adam
With Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick of Dick Taylor Chocolate

Valerie Beck

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

 

 

 

Article: 5 Ethically-Sourced Chocolates to Buy This Chocolate Season, by Simran Sethi for Epicurious

Happy Valentine’s Day season!

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Ethical chocolate: good for people and planet!

Click for a wonderful and timely article by dear Simran Sethi (whom I first met on a cacao farm in Ecuador!) for Epicurious titled “5 Ethically-Sourced Chocolates to Buy This Chocolate Season.”

Her article gives information about the terrible human rights and planetary problems in the chocolate industry, such as child labor and deforestation — Ivory Coast has lost 90% of its forests due to bulk cacao cultivation using environmentally harmful methods — which we see in the commoditized cacao supply chains used by big chocolate brands that are found in grocery stores and other large outlets.

Happily, the article doesn’t stop at the problem as some other stories on these grave topics do; Simran shares some exciting solutions or alternatives in the form of slavery-free, sustainable chocolate options for Valentine’s Day and beyond, made from ethically-sourced specialty cacao that so many of us rave about (and that I love to put on my grapefruit : ) . 

kokoa kamili cacao nibs and xocolatl chocolate on grapefruit
I put Kokoa Kamili cacao nibs (this ethical Tanzania cacao supplier with a zero-tolerance child labor policy is featured in the new Epicurious article) and Xocolatl Madagascar 2-ingredient chocolate onto organic grapefruit, for a glorious superfood breakfast! These Kokoa Kamili cacao nibs, pure and sugar-free and packed with health benefits, were sourced and roasted by Dandelion Chocolate.

For example, the article highlights the delicious Dick Taylor drinking chocolate in my photo at the top of this post — made from just 2 ingredients: organic cacao and organic sugar, all you need! — plus other choices by chocolate makers I’m also honored to call clients or friends!

You know that all of the craft chocolate brands I represent as a broker, consultant, or distributor meet my 5 Ss:

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

Enjoy Simran’s excellent article. Chocolate is love!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valerie at aster hall

Valerie Beck

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

kokoakamilix3
Ethical chocolate bars come from ethical cacao: these delicious bars are by 9th & Larkin of San Francisco and Manoa Chocolate of Hawaii, using Kokoa Kamili cacao. 

Who Labors for Chocolate?

Hello there, and happy Labor Day in the USA!

picnic
My picnic this Labor Day weekend included exquisite bean-to-bar chocolate by Dick Taylor, made from direct trade cacao from Belize!

A note on my Chocolate Freedom Project this Labor Day, which brings awareness of and alternatives to child labor on Ivory Coast cacao farms where Big Chocolate buys cocoa beans. Solutions that we can implement as customers include choosing fair trade and direct trade chocolate, which is better for foodie, farmer, family, and field.

Solutions that I recommend to my country clients and cacao farmer clients as a chocolate consultant include making chocolate in-country from sustainably grown cacao, instead of exporting all the cacao.

As this article entitled

Africa produces 75% of cocoa but gets 2% of $100b chocolate market revenue

reminds us: “The formula for the wealth of nations is clear: rich nations add value to exports, poor nations export raw materials.”

The revolution has begun! : )

Have a happy, thoughtful, and delicious Labor Day!

Cocoa
Photo: Ghana Business News article referenced above

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

summer 2016

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift and Valerie’s Original Chocolate Tours

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com/chocolate-tours

social media: @chocolateuplift

The Community of Chocolate: Cocoa + Co.

by Valerie Beck

When people ask me where to find bean-to-bar chocolate, or slavery-free / ethical chocolate, there’s a new store I now add to the list: Cocoa + Co. in Chicago.

Handful of paradise on opening day at Cocoa + Co.
Handful of paradise on opening day at Cocoa + Co.

People also often ask me for a good chocolate cafe or coffee shop in Chicago, and I add Cocoa + Co. to that list too.

Spicy hot chocolate at Cocoa + Co. #aztecrevivalism
Spicy hot chocolate at Cocoa + Co. #aztecrevivalism

And, when people ask me how to tell if a chocolate bar comes from ethical sources, I give them the answer – below.

But first, imagine a chocolate shop where you can support the community of fair trade and direct trade cacao growers, support the community of artisan chocolate makers and chefs, and enjoy your own community of friends while enjoying some of the finest chocolate brands in the world. Such are the glories at Cocoa + Co.!

Store owner Kim Hack carries some of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate brands, such as Dick Taylor and Original Beans. I’ve also found new favorites through her, such as Marou and Omnom, which I’d followed on Instagram and finally tasted and fell in love with after buying them at Kim’s shop!

Look what came home with me from Cocoa and Co.: Omnom Chocolate
Look what came home with me: Omnom Chocolate

Kim also brings in fresh local pastry and bonbons, has space for private chocolate tasting parties, serves luscious drinking chocolate, and has a well-curated chocolate grocery and cookbook selection.

Chocolate covered s'mores bonbons made for Cocoa and Co. by Veruca Chocolate
Chocolate covered s’mores bonbons made for Cocoa + Co. by Veruca Chocolates
Pretzel croissant by Beurrage and drinking chocolate at Cocoa + Co.
Pretzel croissant by Beurrage and drinking chocolate at Cocoa + Co.

These are wonderful components of the community of chocolate, wouldn’t you agree!

Back to our question of how to tell if the chocolate bar in your hand comes from ethical sources: read the label for what it says, and for what it doesn’t say.

That is: look first for the origin. If you see a country or an estate of origin listed, chances are already high you’re holding a bar of ethical chocolate. Just as a bottle of wine or bag of coffee tells you what country or estate the product comes from, an ethical chocolate bar will tell you that too. The label might say Peru, or Madagascar, or the Camino Verde Estate in Ecuador which I visited last year, or another location, so that you’ll know the source of the cacao that went into making the chocolate.

Marou Chocolate, made with cacao from Vietnam
Marou Chocolate, made with cacao from Vietnam

You can also look for a fair trade symbol, but there are multiple certifications and an ethical cacao farm may or may not have them.

Now look for what the label doesn’t say: if no origin is listed, you can be relatively sure the cocoa beans came from West Africa, which produces over 60% of the world’s chocolate, and which does so with a scarred supply chain often involving diseased cacao trees, poor flavor bulk cacao, and even child slave labor. This is the supply chain of the big chocolate manufacturers who sell in grocery stores and advertise on TV. And this is why I’m organizing a Chocolate Freedom Walk, to raise awareness of where our chocolate comes from, and to promote ethical chocolate with fun tastings and giveaways at my speaking engagements and along the route.

Ethical cacao is not only ethical, it tastes infinitely better, gives you various flavors such as earthy or fruity based on the soil (terroir) and the art of the chocolate maker, needs no artificial ingredients, and gives you the health benefits that you’ve heard about. And it includes you in the sweet chocolate community of growers, makers, and enjoyers, which you can also join at Cocoa + Co.

three tarts
Brownie by Three Tarts Bakery at Cocoa + Co.
old town
Chicago’s newest chocolate shop is located in the lovely Old Town neighborhood
cocanu and john kiras
Cocanu meets John & Kira’s – the latter are dear Philly friends from my days opening Chocolate Tours across the country! – at Cocoa + Co.
with Cocoa + Co. owner Kim Hack (left) on opening day at her shop
with Cocoa + Co. owner Kim Hack (left) on opening day at her shop

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Expert, Sweet Speaker, Chocolate Consultant

www.valeriebeckchocolateuplift.com

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

@chocolateuplift