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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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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

 

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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

 

 

 

Romance Around the Corner

Happy chocolatey Valentine’s Day!

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Romance Around the Corner, by yours truly, is a spiritual and practical guide to attracting the man of your dreams! Pairs well with chocolate!

It’s all about love:

Here’s the book I wrote in 2005 on how to attract the man of your dreams, Romance Around the Corner; it still works ; ) — I used to give seminars on the 8 steps in the book and we saw 6 marriages and many relationships happen due to the program — and I find it pairs well with Xocolatl Chocolate‘s exquisite Love & Happiness bar, which consists of raspberries and blood orange-infused olive oil swirled into ethically-made 2-ingredient dark chocolate (cacao and sugar, all you need)!

Find the book on Amazon (it’s part spiritual growth guide, part practical how-to, part mini-memoir), and find delicious Xocolatl Chocolate bars at @ammasumma, @theavondalecoffeeclub, @cocoaandcochi, @honeycreeperchocolate, @rarebirdpreserves, @reprisecoffeeroasters, and @yaharachocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valerie in pink
Cheers with hot chocolate, to love and chocolate!

Valerie Beck

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

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

Hello!

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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!

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

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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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

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. 

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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Two Makers, Two Seasons, Two News Stories

Hello there, and happy equinox!

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Summer and fall seem to be dancing together today in Chicago, as warm sunshine mingles with crisp air. As we enter a new season filled with new abundance, two dear craft chocolate maker clients are new at Totto’s Market (which is also new), and, they are in the news!

Gotham Chocolates is a sophisticated bean-to-bar brand by acclaimed chef Ron Paprocki of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City. Chef Ron converted a corner of his pastry kitchen into a chocolate manufactory to make pure, clean, flavorful craft chocolate for bars, bonbons, and desserts. Click here to read about Chef Ron’s background and vision; what a coincidence that he and I each lived in Germany for some years. When I first met Ron and tasted his chocolates in NYC a few years ago, I was thrilled with the exquisite precision and beauty of his work, and I’m thrilled with the new Artisan line that he has launched since, using a variety of specialty cacaos!

ÓBOLO Chocolate (the name means gift or small contribution in Spanish) is an inventive bean-to-bar brand by Midwesterner Mark Gerrits who moved to Chile for adventure after college and is still there. He founded his chocolate company in 2013, and ÓBOLO has gained B-Corporation status reflecting standards for social and environmental justice. I tasted the chocolate for the first time last year, and loved its lively use of Peru cacao. This year Mark updated his packaging, bar thickness and mould, and added a new Flavors of Chile line of bars, sharing a confident and unique new presentation in the world of craft chocolate. Click here for a story on the brand’s use of biodynamic Chilean inclusions such as herbs that grow in the Atacama desert or berries from Patagonia.

You can find a selection of Gotham Chocolates at these wonderful upscale retailers: Hannah’s Bretzel, Honeycreeper Chocolate, and Totto’s Market. Find ÓBOLO Chocolate at wonderful upscale Cocoa + Co. and Totto’s Market.

Congratulations to these two elegant and artistic craft chocolate brands as autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere including in New York for Gotham and here in Chicago, and as spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere including in Santiago for ÓBOLO!

Wishing you a delicious season, whichever one is blowing in where you are,

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valeriewindycity

Valerie Beck

Chocolate Broker

Sweet Speaker

Founder of the original chocolate tours

Instagram @chocolateuplift

LinkedIn

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

Wisconsin event: The Full Chocolate

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Update: here are the slides from my talk on The Full Chocolate: Where Chocolate Comes From and What’s in Your Chocolate, at an exciting and delicious event held August 2, 2019, at amazing Yahara Chocolate in sweet historic Stoughton, Wisconsin! As always, please see the comments section of each slide for the juicy info and video links!

In addition, below are some photos from the event; more are on my Instagram under hashtag #WisconsinAugust2019. Thank you and hope to see you next time!

*****

Hello!

Are you a chocolate lover in the Madison, Wisconsin, area? I’m excited to give a talk on The Full Chocolate — how chocolate goes from bean to bar — with craft chocolate tasting at Yahara Chocolate in Stoughton, WI, Friday 8/2/19 at 7pm, and to host informal tastings there Saturday 8/3/19 from 10am to 3pm!

We’re going to have around 10 different chocolate bars to sample, plus cacao beans, nibs, and pulp! Details are here for Friday, and here for Saturday. Hope to see you there!

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Here is some of the scrumptiousness I’m bringing to Yahara Chocolate for dear Brook, the store owner, who is assembling an amazing collection of craft chocolate, wouldn’t you agree!
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I’m also bringing the outrageously delicious new Mint Brownie bar by Violet Sky Chocolate; Brook selected it at his daughter’s insistence!

Fun side note: my first-year dorm at Harvard College and the town where Yahara Chocolate is located are both called Stoughton! Here are some photos from my return to Stoughton (the dorm) to serve as a Convocation Marshal and welcome the new first-year students last fall (I brought chocolate to that too, for the new students in my old dorm, and for my alumni friends). It’s all connected!

Meanwhile, see you in Stoughton, Wisconsin, if you’re around!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

Valerie Beck

Founder, Chocolate Uplift

craft chocolate promotion

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriebeck/

Chocolate and Gender

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What a blast to give a talk and craft chocolate tasting for the amazing ladies of my Alumnae-i Network of Harvard Women group, at heavenly Hannah’s Bretzel in Chicago!

The head of the Chicago chapter asked if I could speak on chocolate and gender, and in fact this is a topic with interesting historical aspects. For example, would you be surprised to know that Aztec emperor Montezuma drank chocolate before visiting his wives, or that today much of the work on specialty cacao farms that grow some of the best cacao in the world is done by women?

Click here if you’re curious to see slides I shared during our delicious afternoon (my notes or video links to various relevant YouTube videos are in the comments to each slide)!

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We sampled these wonderful craft chocolate bars by Askinosie Chocolate, Dandelion Chocolate, Gotham Chocolates, Taza Chocolate, and Violet Sky Chocolate, which are all slavery-free, sustainable, soy-free and lecithin-free, small-batch, and scrumptious! We also sampled cacao from Cacao Marquez, and had coffee from Hannah’s Bretzel, our generous venue host where all of these chocolate bars are available (so is the delicious fresh pretzel)!
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With ANHW Chicago Chapter President Litcy Kurisinkal (left)

Need a “sweet speaker” for your group? Click for my speaking engagement info or contact me at chocolateuplift@gmail.com!

Here are my slides again from this presentation, and thank you to all who made the event possible and all who attended!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriebeck/

Chicago Bar Association podcast: Chocolate Edition

Hello!

As a lawyer turned chocolate services entrepreneur, I’m thrilled to have been a guest on the Chicago Bar Association podcast, to talk about my career journey, craft chocolate, and eradicating child slave labor on cacao farms that supply Big Chocolate; you can listen here!

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JUL 3, 2019

The Chocolate Covered Edition

Valerie Beck talks about the world of craft, artisan chocolate and Valerie’s Chocolate Freedom Project, which is committed to ending child slave labor in the chocolate industry.

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Here is some of the delicious chocolate we tasted and discussed during taping. Thank you to podcast hosts Jon and Trish and Team for having me!

For more on my lawyer days, you can read my memoirs which I’m publishing on another blog generally weekly, Diary of My Disastrous Law Career: From Harvard to Heaven Help Me.

Thank you — onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Distribution, Talks, Tastings

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

 

New Additional Blog – Diary of My Disastrous Law Career

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Hello there!

I’ve started a new blog, a memoir of my days as a lawyer, called Diary of My Disastrous Law Career: From Harvard to Heaven Help Me, and the first post is up!

Chocolate forever, Harvard always, but lawyer no more — I left that career almost 20 years ago, and the blog tells you why. Read at your own risk. Plus: fun vintage photos.

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

https://diaryofmydisastrouslawcareer.blogspot.com/