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.
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 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 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, 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

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

Hello!

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

Happy June!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xocolatl Chocolate — use code HEALTHY20 for 20% off

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

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

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

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

Thank you, and keep eating ethical chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Activism, Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

Women Entrepreneurs Making Social Impact [slides, chocolate ordering links]

Hello!

harvard women chocolate presentation
A selection of women-made or -led ethical chocolate brands

What a blast to give a zoom presentation for an amazing group of my Harvard College women classmates today about *Women Entrepreneurs Making Social Impact,* and to share my journey and mission of Uplift Through Chocolate!

Here is the link to my slides; be sure to open them all the way to see the information and links in the Notes sections! Enjoy, and scroll down this page for online shopping links to woman-owned retailers and woman-owned or -led brands!

20180902_182005
We are Harvard and proud: outside my former dorm Stoughton (left in photo) a couple of years ago for Convocation. Here are the slides to my talk today for Harvard women classmates.

We are celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote here in the US, and I applaud my classmates who organized a video chat series for us featuring stories of women’s activism! Our college reunion next month was canceled due to the coronavirus situation (stay well, and keep perspective: 11 million people die each year from poor diet — including from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes caused by eating industrial Big Food — that’s 1 in 5 deaths globally and that’s 50 times more than have died from covid-19, so why haven’t we shut down Big Food and the outlets like Amazon that sell it?), and we are moving forward with our own events, virtually!

I gathered beautiful and delicious craft chocolate bars shown here from woman-owned or -led brands, to wave around on-screen, along with the fascinating book 1491 (click for a related article by the book’s author in The Atlantic) about life in the Americas before Columbus — we can learn a lot from the societies of indigenous people, like the one that had a grandmothers council of wise women to approve or reject political plans — which includes information about the role of cacao and chocolate.

Also recommended: the excellent documentary Setting the Bar, which gives insights into the role of women in a cacao-growing region today and features several of my dear clients and friends, and an awesome article called “The Chocolate-Brewing Witches of Colonial Latin America!”

(Those links are also in my slides.)

ecuador cacao pod
Cacao: immunity-boosting superfood!

 

Mother’s Day is coming! Where to buy the amazing craft chocolate bars I discussed in my presentation, which meet my 5 Ss of

  1. slavery-free (remember to look for the cacao country of origin)
  2. soy-free / industrial additive-free
  3. sustainable
  4. small-batch, and
  5. scrumptious:

 

Woman-owned retailers, carrying woman-owned or -led craft chocolate brands, order online or by phone and tell them I sent you

Beacon Hill Chocolates in Boston

    • Look for:
      • Bixby Chocolate of Maine
      • Ritual Chocolate of Utah

 

Cocoa + Co. in Chicago

    • Look for:
      • Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta

 

Gourmet Boutique in Boston

    • Look for:
      • Askanya Chocolate of Haiti

 

Rare Bird Preserves in Oak Park, Illinois

    • Look for:
      • Bixby Chocolate of Maine
      • Ritual Chocolate of Utah

 

Direct from woman-owned brands, order online and tell them I sent you

  • Askanya Chocolate of Haiti, ships from New York City, use coupon code ASKCHOCO2020 for 20% off
  • Fresco Chocolate of Washington State
  • Good King snacking cacao from Honduras and Indonesia, ships from Seattle, free shipping

 

Male-owned retailer, carrying some great woman-owned brands, order online and tell him I sent you

Yahara Chocolate of Wisconsin

    • Look for:
      • Belú Cacao of El Salvador
      • Chequessett Chocolate of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
      • Fruition Chocolate of New York State
      • Xocolatl Chocolate of Atlanta

 

Male-owned retailer, carrying some great woman-owned brands, open for walk-ins, tell him I sent you

Totto’s Market of Chicago

    • Look for:
      • 9th & Larkin of San Francisco
      • Chocolate Tree of Scotland
      • Good King snacking cacao of Honduras and Indonesia by way of Seattle

 

Most of the women chocolate makers and retailers I spoke with the other day in preparation for my presentation basically said the same thing: any income still coming in goes to their employees during these days of virus pandemonium. So whether you shop with a retailer or directly with a brand, you are helping their (mostly women) employees!

 

womenmade incountry chocolate
A selection of woman-made in-country chocolate: the chocolate bars were made in the same country where the cacao was grown, which means more profit and pride for local teams than if the cacao were exported without making a finished product

As you may know, my business Chocolate Uplift generally doesn’t sell chocolate to the public since closing the subscription box part of the business; instead, I sell and distribute craft chocolate bars like the ones listed above wholesale to retailers like the ones listed above, and also provide consulting services to chocolate makers and cacao farm owners, and speaking engagements to the public and for meetings and events.

I also operate a free “chocolate-finder” service: if there’s a type of chocolate or a flavor or a brand you want, and you don’t know where to order it, ask me and I’ll find out and tell you!

Thank you, and keep eating real chocolate!

Onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,
Valerie

valerie chocolate hug
Sending you a chocolate hug, as we move toward a world that nourishes people and planet! That’s Uplift Through Chocolate!

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

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

Hello!

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

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

The Best Chocolate In Africa

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

Hilary Hueler

April 7, 2020

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

The cacao and the resulting chocolate meet my 5 Ss:

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

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

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

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

tanzania chefs choc

tanzania dandelion nibs

tanzania dandelion

tanzania kokoa kamili

Shop: #stayhomewithchocolate

chocolate for breakfast

Hello!

I hope you are well!

Normally I sell craft chocolate wholesale to stores, and lately I have also been asked to sell it direct to you because some stores have had to close — only temporarily we hope — due to the current virus situation. To help our dear chocolate makers, cacao growers, and other small businesses, as part of the #stayhomewithchocolate initiative launched by our community, and to help you get the best chocolate from around the world without leaving home, here you go!

Until or unless I get a shopify page or the like set up, you can order as follows:

  • Choose your chocolate bars from below my signature, and pay via my Paypal link.
  • Prices are as listed, or choose 4 bars for $50, or 10 for $100.
  • Free shipping at $50+.
  • Philanthropy partner tbd.
  • You can also email me or send me a Zelle payment at chocolateuplift@gmail.com, or
  • send me a message on Instagram @chocolateuplift.
  • Let me know your mailing address, or the mailing address of your gift recipient and any note for a gift card, and I look forward to sending your chocolate!

All of the chocolate I represent is slavery-free, soy-free and lecithin-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious!

Also as part of this initiative, I’ll be doing a fun Instagram Live presentation, which will be posted to YouTube, on *Chocolate For Breakfast: Surprising Health Benefits and How-Tos,* Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at 11:00 am central time. Details to come here and wherever #stayhomewithchocolate is used! : )

Thank you, keep eating real chocolate, and I wish and send you courage and compassion!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

valerie blowing kiss

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

IG: @chocolateuplift

 

Welcome to the Chocolate Uplift #stayhomewithchocolate Shop!

Obolo Chocolate

Made in Chile

$11

obolomaqui

obolo maqui ingredientsobolo earl grey

obolo

Obolo PeruObolo Peru backobolo gift frontobolo gift backobolo murta

obolo merken murtaobolo muna ricavalerie with mark and brayan

 

Belu Cacao

Made in El Salvador

$6 full-size

$3 half-size

$1 mini

$16 cocoa almond butter

Screenshot_20190712-092046
Cacao and sugar — all you need!

Screenshot_20190712-092115
The ingredients are grown in El Salvador, and the chocolate is made in El Salvador.

Screenshot_20190712-092011

belu cocoa almond butterbelu butter ingredientsbelu butter pourbelu spread

Screenshot_20190712-091416

 

Sirene Chocolate

Made in Canada

$10

sirene assortmentsirene 100

sirene in hot chocsirene with croissantsirene jam croissantsirene chabilsirene chabil backsirene chabil bar

sirene fleur de selvalerie and taylor

 

Violet Sky Chocolate

Made in South Bend, Indiana

$11

pine and citrusp and cp and c on grapefruit halfp and c on grapefruit

maple and vanillam and vviolet sky m and v

 

Chocolatasm

Made on Cape Cod, Massachussetts

$8

chocolatasm hot pinkchocolatasm hot pink detailChocolatasm hot pink labelchocolatasm hot pink ingredients

chocolatasm and obolo pinks

 

Bixby Chocolate

Made in Rockland, Maine

$10

bixby smoothie barsbixby matchabixby matcha backbixby matcha detailvalerie and kate

 

Raaka Chocolate

Made in Brooklyn

$6

raaka banana bananaraaka banana detailraaka banana ingredientsraaka banana back

 

You can order as follows:

  • Choose your chocolate bars, and pay via my Paypal link.
  • Prices are as listed, or choose 4 bars for $50, or 10 for $100.
  • Free shipping at $50+.
  • Philanthropy partner tbd.
  • You can also email me or send me a Zelle payment at chocolateuplift@gmail.com, or
  • send me a message on Instagram @chocolateuplift.
  • Let me know your mailing address, or the mailing address of your gift recipient and any note for a gift card, and I look forward to sending your chocolate!

All of the chocolate I represent is slavery-free, soy-free and lecithin-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious!

Thank you!

Onward and upward!

choc and mangochoc croissant jamchoc figs banana

Caribbean Cacao

Hello!

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

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

What do these chocolate bars have in common?

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

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

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

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

IMG_20180617_120833_294.jpg
Cacao from Guatemala…

20180426_093129.png
…in a small-batch grinder for 72 hours, to become chocolate.

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

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

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

crow and moss zorzal

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

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

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

crow and moss ingredients

crow and moss back

crow and moss pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep eating craft chocolate — onward and upward!

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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

Valerie Beck

Founder/CEO Chocolate Uplift

Craft Chocolate Brokering, Consulting, Distribution

http://www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Insta: @chocolateuplift

 

Repost 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

 

 

 

Romance Around the Corner

Happy chocolatey Valentine’s Day!

romance around the corner
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

love and happinesscacao and sugarback of the bookback of the bar

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

Hello!

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

Is all dark chocolate created equal?

Does all dark chocolate provide health benefits?

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

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

Your friend in chocolate,

Valerie

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

 

Valerie Beck

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

www.chocolateuplift.com

chocolateuplift@gmail.com

Instagram @chocolateuplift

good kinggood king good food award