Happy 5th Anniversary, Xocolatl!

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Congratulations to dear friends and client Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate of Atlanta on their 5 delicious and meaningful years in business!

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Cacao and sugar: all you need!

This family-owned brand exemplifies the values our craft chocolate community stands for, such as transparency, human rights, planetary regeneration, and first-class flavor! To put it another way, Xocolatl meets my 5 Ss because their chocolate is

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

Click for a fabulous article about how dear founders Elaine and Matt got started, and about how an ethical chocolate supply chain works.

It is a pleasure to represent Xocolatl, and you can find their chocolate at amazing retailers

  • Amma’s Umma
  • Avondale Coffee Club
  • Brew Brew Coffee & Tea
  • Cocoa + Co.
  • Goods LA
  • Gourmet Boutique
  • Honeycreeper Chocolate
  • Rare Bird Preserves
  • Reprise Coffee Roasters,and
  • Yahara Chocolate.

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Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

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Celebrating at the Good Food Awards where Xocolatl’s Pangoa Peru bar was a winner!

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Craft Chocolate Distribution, Talks, Tastings, Consulting

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

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Belú Cacao: [video] the sweet side of El Salvador

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Bite-sized sunshine: Belú Cacao minis!

When you hear “El Salvador,” what do you think? If you take a look at this wonderful new 1-minute-23-second video from Belú Cacao of El Salvador, on which I was thrilled to do a bit of remote behind-the-scenes consulting, you might think “gorgeous, clean, nature, cacao, chocolate, women in business!”

Belú Cacao is a woman-owned craft chocolate company, and I am thrilled to work with amazing founder Emily de Urías in getting her bars ready for and now successful in the US market! Her chocolate of course meets my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate, in that it is

Should we revive the Chocolate Travel Club and visit El Salvador?

 

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I’ve arranged the 3 sizes: “skinny,” full, and mini!
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The chocolate is made from cacao and sugar — all you need! The ingredients are grown in El Salvador, and the chocolate is made in El Salvador; the in-country trend in craft chocolate is very exciting. Click for a video about this special brand made in a beautiful place.

By the way, the business is called Belú because that is founder Emily’s young daughter’s nickname. Emily’s husband Carlos is super supportive of the business, and they are a fabulous family, using their education and professionalism to boost their community and nation and our world. (In case you’re wondering, Emily speaks perfect English, as my Spanish is known to be awful, especially as it gets tangled up with my French, German, and bad Italian!)

Find Belú products at US retailers including:

Avondale Coffee Club, Chicago

Foodease Market, Chicago

Rare Bird Preserves, Oak Park

Spilt Milk Market, Chicago

Totto’s Market, Chicago

Yahara Chocolate, Stoughton, WI

You can often find the brand’s cacao nibs on my grapefruit; I add them to my breakfast for their nutty flavor and healthy deliciousness!

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Enjoy the video!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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Here I am with Belú Cacao founder Emily de Urías and her husband Carlos, in Chicago

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Talks, Tastings, Distribution, Consulting

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

 

A-List Student Excursions

I’m excited to share my newest venture: A-List Student Excursions!

High school and college students can learn about business and entrepreneurship from the inside, and can build their professional networks, by touring successful large, small, and start-up businesses and meeting the owners or managers, through my immersive educational excursion program.

This combines my love of educating and of entrepreneurship. And of course there will be chocolate!

First new session: June 25 – 29, 2018, in Chicago.

Details:

“5 days, 5 field trips to businesses.

Meet successful entrepreneurs and managers, tour their companies, and learn their secrets, habits, and techniques.

Program created and led by entrepreneur, award winning instructor, and former Harvard lawyer Valerie Beck, who will share her business success roadmap involving networking, mentoring, and volunteering.

$900 per student, includes materials and lunches. Limited to 10 students, in high school or college. 10 am – 4 pm each day, except for 1 longer day with a longer field trip.

Apply by email to valerie.beck@post.harvard.edu with name, school, age, email address, why you want to participate in the program, and why you are interested in business.

Payment due upon acceptance, to hold your spot. Email with any questions.

A fun and educational week awaits our A-List Student Excursion participants!”

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Click for the full webpage, which includes reviews from students.

Onward and upward!

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder: Chocolate Uplift and the original Chocolate Tours, and A-List Student Excursions

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.

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Brownie by Three Tarts Bakery at Cocoa + Co.
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Chicago’s newest chocolate shop is located in the lovely Old Town neighborhood
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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

“ABCs of Sweet Success”

Fun news:

I’m excited to speak to the Batavia Women in Business group, outside of Chicago, on the “ABCs of Sweet Success,” and excited about the corresponding article in The Chicago Tribune about my speaking engagements and rebranding to Chocolate Uplift!

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Sweet speaker. Click for a larger version, or for the corresponding article.

Click here for info on booking me for a Chocolate Wellness talk or business talk, or contact me at chocolateuplift@gmail.com.

All my speaking engagements come with chocolate!

Cheers!

Valerie