Episode 25: Cocoa Innovation with Sophie Jewett of York Cocoa House & York Cocoa Works

Description: Sophie Jewett is founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works, both namesake chocolate shops, cafes, and the latter a 7 month old bean-to-bar chocolate factory (as of late October 2018), an homage to how they used to make this beloved confection in York's storied mercantile past. She's led project ideation and management since 2011. After studying the landscape and proposing such an endeavor to investors and local food aficionados, she's managed building renovation, equipment, directly traded suppliers & team curation within the past year. Her researched and pitched plan won a mentorship with British TV personality Deborah Meaden, and near 500 investors put in £411,480 in total to take the concept from blueprint to reality. Her aptitude for economics, sociology, and adoration for York's prestige as an incredibly important hub for cocoa in the world, have molded her view on what the future of chocolate in York will look like, and is actively setting the tone.  

When not making chocolate, acquiring food history knowledge, or managing the day-in and day-out of managerial roles at YCW/H, Sophie is (in her words), not doing a great deal of anything else, “(I’m) incredibly fortunate to have made my interests into my business, so while I might be sewing, designing, crafting, cooking or reading, everything is intensely chocolate focused.”

 Sophie Jewett, founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: Sophie Jewett

Sophie Jewett, founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: Sophie Jewett

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Pub culture as chocolate/coffee shop culture, and vice versa

  • York as a medieval capital of the north and hub for the spice trade & other mercantile

  • Merchants/ guilds/ apprenticeships, and the modern take on these concepts   

  • Confectioners and impact of Quakers values in business: such as Rowntree

  • Experiential over standard consumption

  • What happens to a brand/company when accountants take over the vision and responsibility

  • Finding a balance of offerings when there is no consensus of “the best”

  • The Big Mac Index from The Economist 

  • Customers feeling a part of the industry; empowering their choices and taking an active role in its future

“…because I really believe if we are to structure the industry in the right way, it needs to have wider stakeholder/shareholder engagement, and it needs to not just be about one person's mission”. - Sophie Jewett 

 Chocolatiers create confections (such as seen here) at York Cocoa House using house-made couverture from York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: York Cocoa House

Chocolatiers create confections (such as seen here) at York Cocoa House using house-made couverture from York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: York Cocoa House

Episode 24: Cocoa Innovation with Joanna Brennan Co-Founder of Pump Street Bakery and Pump Street Chocolate

Joanna Brennan is the featured guest of the Well Tempered mini-series focusing on 'Cocoa Innovation.' She is Co-Founder of Pump Street Bakery and Pump Street Chocolate in Orford, Suffolk, England. In my humble opinion, there is hardly a more perfect pairing than bread and chocolate, deeply comforting and nostalgic. Alongside her father Chris Brennan, Joanna and staff have been leading the craft chocolate and artisan bread category since 2010. With their steadfast attention to detail, bread made by hand, and transparent relationships w/ owner-operated estates, farms and co-operatives for their, it made perfect sense for them to intersect both passions and crafts. Listen in as we talk about the charm of the English countryside, local pastries, running an internationally known family business, and fine inimitable 2 or 3 ingredient chocolate as a main ingredient for chefs. 

 Joanna Brennan Co-Founder of Pump Street Bakery & Chocolate (photo credit: Pump Street)

Joanna Brennan Co-Founder of Pump Street Bakery & Chocolate (photo credit: Pump Street)

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Launching a slow food business as the bread renaissance was picking up in the UK
  • Building the brand and business of a destination artisan bread bakery
  • The parallels between bread and chocolate; & how knowing one inside-out helped asking the right questions for sourcing, fermentation, building farmer relationships, etc.
  • Single origin vs blends in bread and chocolate - consistency and highlighting farmer partners/terroir 
  • Crop/harvest year on packaging; what consumers are starting to notice and request
  • International distribution, an organic part of Pump Street's growth
  • Introducing ice cream into cafe menu. (They serve Eccles & Armagnac, sour dough bread crumb, nutmeg - using nutmeg from Crayfish Bay, single origin Madagascar chocolate, & sorbet.)
  • Logical advancement in their business model; if using chocolate in bread, why not adding bread to chocolate? 
  • An exciting conversation to have...craft chocolate for chefs and pastry professionals (Pump Street serves 15 London restaurants as of Summer 2018) & how to speak to chefs in that :their: craft chocolate differs in temperature when tempering in comparison to the couverture that the industry is used to
chocolate is one of the final frontiers for chefs

Sound Bites by Joanna:
- In regard to holiday-taking, do it! Set aside time to take a vacation/rest and most importantly, set an auto-response email letting others know you're OOO so that reply expectations are set beforehand
- International distribution. Intentionally thinking about the long-game and if your business can afford to offer a distributor price, and still succeed as a business
- On packaging development: "I was very conscious that it was going to have to speak for itself on the shelf when I wasn't there standing behind the counter.....(but) the judgment of the chocolate should be in the eating." Pump Street opted for enchanting potential customers with intrigue and quality without being too loud (in packaging colors/design). 


 Eccles (cakes) 55% Chocolate (photo credit: Pump Street)

Eccles (cakes) 55% Chocolate (photo credit: Pump Street)

Episode 23: Cocoa Innovation with Susan Brown Beekeeper & Chocolate Crafter of Mademoiselle Miel

Description: As part of a mini-series on innovation in cocoa and craft chocolate, I interview Susan Brown artist and creator of Mademoiselle Miel. After ditching processed sugar from her life decades ago, she sought to replicate her favorite recipes with pure honey. When demand outpaced supply, she undertook another challenge; acquire bees and beehives and supply her own honey for her production. Since 2011, Mademoiselle Miel has continued to incorporate beauty, art, and support local ecosystems, as well as educating on the benefits of bees and (ethical) cacao in our lives. Susan and her shop are based in Saint Paul, Minnesota; where she is inspired by upbringing, her natural surroundings, and collaborative community. 

Off the record Susan told me; "All I know for sure is that we need to take care of each other, and we need to take care of the bees, and that chocolate tastes good." But she had a lot more interesting things to say in the podcast, so have a listen! 

 Susan Brown of Mademoiselle Miel 

Susan Brown of Mademoiselle Miel 

Themes discussed in this episode of Well Tempered, the podcast about the smart, crafty, and creative women in chocolate: 

  • Developing skills and interests at a young age and the quest or roles of parents/adults to push them forward 
  • A desired diet null of processed sugars & how a honey filled bonbon launched a chocolate (and honey!) company 
  • Tasting and pairing honey from the hive 
  • The importance of place for your business; what that means as far as geography, spirit, and mind
  • The use of and power of words, e.g. from Susan's 'Garbage Collection,' a set of bonbons utilizing foodstuff that others may consider 'scraps' or 'trash' and how her clients might respond to the name/concept/taste
  • What if consumers were considered appreciators? 
  • Finding a mentor in beekeeping 
  • Transformation and the act of change 

Bees - how cool!
Roughly 60,000 bees per hive working together for one purpose; the eusocial society
- Incredibly adaptable, they change roles (foragers, cleaners, nurses, guards, etc.) throughout their six week lifespan
- A honeybee will produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey during their life

Related links:
Once a hot spot for honeybees, the Northern Great Plains offers less wildflowers/food via NYT 
The Walker Art Center / Contemporary Art Museum in Minneapolis

Mademoiselle Miel's pieces of innovation:

  • 100% single origin cacao enrobed bonbons with local honey collected on-site
  • Using urban centers as honeybee sanctuaries; they works with 30 hives on 6 various downtown rooftops 
  • Included in her business plan is a section on 'Artistry' to be continuously reminded that it is a tenet of her daily work 
 Honey Bon-bon by Mademoiselle Miel

Honey Bon-bon by Mademoiselle Miel

Where to find Mademoiselle Miel: 
Mademoiselle Miel website & online shop. Find Honey Bon-bons and Maple Sweetened Bean to Bar Chocolate at many fine retailers in Minnesota and Sugar Rush Sweet Shoppe in Irvine, Californa. 
Instagram @mademoisellemiel
Facebook @mademoisellemiel

SPECIAL OFFER from The Kitchen Garden Series by designer Heidi Barr. Well Tempered listeners receive 20% off purchases made with the discount code apronpower at checkout. Heidi's unique upcycling and repurposing of natural fabrics will beautify your kitchen and chocolate work-life! 

chef apron kitchengardenseries.png

Episode 22: Cocoa Innovation with Kim Wilson of Good King Snacking Cacao

Description: From Mrs. Field's cookie-fame dreams to social corporate responsibility and on-the-ground commodity disruption, Kim Wilson has found her place in the innovative space of CPG food products utilizing cocoa beans with the new product Good King Snacking Cacao. Coming off of a 2017 Good Food Award for their 'Harmony' creation, Kim shares with us in this Well Tempered podcast episode her journey towards considering how to turn back the supply & value chain, and trailblaze a new category. She is based in Seattle, Washington and travels often to meet and train her sourcing partners in Indonesia and Honduras. 

 Kim Wilson Co-founder of Good King Snacking Cacao, photo credit: Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson Co-founder of Good King Snacking Cacao, photo credit: Kim Wilson

Themes discussed in this episode: 
- Moving from wine sales/marketing to cocoa
- Kim's path to understanding where cocoa farming was at the time, and where the gaps were
- Good King launched on realization 'we have to move the supply chain back' 
- How snacking cacao differs from cocoa nibs
- Roasting cocoa beans after the shell has been removed
- Why it's difficult for many origin regions to compete in chocolate making; lack of infrastructure, burden of weather patterns unfit for production, and missing market related to population or geography (competitive quadrant from her MBA) 
- Struggles of this new category; FDA processing and licensing, customers thinking cocoa beans are coffee beans
- What else can be done with cacao, where will innovation go? 
- Finding affinity with cheese, the "savory version of milk chocolate" 

Good King's pieces of innovation: 

  • Move supply chain back
  • Make use for the smaller beans usually not requested by other chocolate makers
  • Target certain clones
  • Let women lead; skills/dexterity of their hands, interest in the work, taking them out of potentially harmful scenarios, planting the seed for other entrepreneurial ventures
  • Agricultural processor vs. Food processor and pioneering the groundwork for entry into the US
  • Save time, invest locally; keep more of the manufacturing elements in country without decreasing nutrients of the raw bean or using up energy sources for processing

Where to find Kim and Good King: 
Good King Website (20% off online purchases available to WT listeners, enter wtpodcast at checkout): 
Facebook: Good King Cacao
Instagram: @GoodKingCacao
Youtube: Good King Snacking Cacao channel 

Don't miss Kim's acceptance speech for the 2017 Good Food Award in February 2018 in San Francisco on behalf of the Confections Category. Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqm8lrUiYEE

Interested in supporting WKND in the micro-crowdfunding through May 7th? As you know I haven't taken advertisers to support this venture -- your purchases keep podcasts in the pipeline. 

Special Episode: Passover and Easter Chocolate with Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz

For Rabbi Deborah Prinz, a serendipitous discovery whilst on vacation in France, spawned a new purpose driven career in chocolate. In all her years of studying Judaism, she'd never encountered the link to Jews in chocolate. Her book, On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao. brings to light the stories before overlooked in the history of this prized and beloved ingredient.  She counts almost thirty years in congregational work, almost 20 as Rabbi Emerita of Temple Adat Shalom, in San Diego County, California. She was awarded a Starkoff Fellowship and a Director’s Fellowship from the American Jewish Archives as well as a Gilder Lehrman Fellowship from the Rockefeller Library to do this research and hopes to continue her work on the chocolate trail with an emphasis on women's past and contemporary role in chocolate. She currently lectures about ethical chocolate and religion around the world.

 Photo credit: Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz

Photo credit: Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Chocolate as a migrant food, the brief history of how cacao and the craft of chocolate traveled
  • Jews as chocolate experts in France's culinary history 
  • Rebecca Gomez, who may have been the first female manufacturer (chocolate maker) in the American Colonies
  • Women in chocolate throughout history, from Mesoamerica to today 
  • Chocolate in life and death, and rites of passage 
  • Ceremonial aspect of chocolate; such as Jews in New Spain (chocolate traders) whom welcomed the Sabbath on Friday night with chocolate, and in Curaçao they used chocolate for bris services (brit milah)
  • Trade routes, how cacao/chocolate traveled via commerce and human resettlement
  • Modern day enjoyment of chocolate on the Jewish table, as Jewish food & how Rabbi Prinz educates her congregations about finding ethical chocolate
  • Traditions mimicking one another; appetite for chocolate through a universal set of stories, Passover & Easter similarities 
  • Easter eggs; were they first introduced by Jews?  
  • Chocolate in the form of deities, both lauded and controversial 
  • For makers: Gaining certifications for Kosher chocolate or Passover specific use (2 available, Ashkenazi and Sephardi versions, i.e. one that permits soy lecithin and another without) 

Links from the episode: 

Where to find more from Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz
- Visit the website On The Chocolate Trail
- Buy On The Chocolate Trail 2nd edition via Amazon 
- Rabbi Prinz's guide for Passover celebrations; A Haggadah for a Socially Responsible Chocolate Seder
Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate, museum exhibit co-curated by Rabbi Prinz and Warren Klein
Social Media: 
Facebook Rabbi Deborah Prinz
Twitter @chocolatetrail
Instagram @deborahrprinz

 Photo credit: On The Chocolate Trail by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz 

Photo credit: On The Chocolate Trail by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz 

Other mentions: 
Alma Chocolate in Portland, OR
Chocolate Flourless Fudge Cake from Yotam Ottolenghi

Perfect for Passover Recipe; 'Forgotten Cookies'
(posted with permission from the 2nd edition of On The Chocolate Trail)

The chocolate bud, or "kiss," that tops each of these cookies created quite a stir among chocolate makers in the late 1800s and early 1900s as unraveled in the chapter. 
To ensure a good result, as our friend Rabbi Marianne Luijken Gevirtz said when sharing this recipe, "Don't peek while the cookies are in the warm oven!"

2 large egg white
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chip, cocoa nibs, or both
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Pinch of salt (optional) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30-40 chocolate buds or kisses

Quantity: Makes about 35 cookies

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff. Gently fold in the chocolate chip, and/or cocoa nibs, and nuts. Add the salt and vanilla. Drop teaspoonfuls onto the prepared sheets. Cap each cookie with a chocolate bud or kiss. Place the pans in the oven; after about 1 minute turn off the heat. Leave in the oven several hours or overnight. Carefully peel the cookies off the paper or foil using a spatula. 

Episode 21: Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz Entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CEO of Les Chocolateries Askanya

Description: Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz is co-Founder and CEO for Les Chocolateries Askanya. With a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan & a Wharton MBA, as well as drive, determination, and a love for her homeland, she launched Haiti's first specialty cacao bean-to-bar chocolate company, with products 100% grown and made in Haiti. In this Well Tempered podcast episode we look closer at: the impact her company has had on locals (especially through employing and empowering women), producing in a tropical climate & outside of the standard capital of industry/transportation, Port-au-Prince, as well as becoming an improbable chocolate entrepreneur. 

 Askanya Founder Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz  Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya

Askanya Founder Corinne Joachim-Sanon-Symietz  Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya

- Childhood memories of traditional Haitian drinking chocolate
- The devastating January 2010 earthquake* and how it impacted Corinne's family, life, and entrepreneurial direction
- Building out a factory and training a team inside a residential house in Ouanaminthe, Haiti (north-eastern portion of the country on the border with the Dominican Republic)
- Logistics of making and shipping chocolate in/from a tropical climate
- Askanya currently has 10 full-time employees, 9 of their production staff is female
- Creating diversified opportunities for farmers, incentivizing them and future generations to maintain the heritage of sustainable agricultural cultivation
- The launch of her additional company G&S Cacao, focused on sourcing from 450 subsistence farmers in rural areas and collectively fermenting on-site; this set-up is accelerating producers' income to middle class by paying them ~6x more than bulk cocoa cost

*we talk about the loss of life in this episode. If you have children or those sensitive to this material nearby, consider wearing headphones/earbuds. 

Corinne's goals in building the business: 
1) Transform a Haitian agricultural crop
2) Create blue collar jobs for a population that is ready and willing to work but has historically lacked tangible and fair opportunities
3) Decentralize and diversify from logistical hub Port-au-Prince 

(Haiti produces 1% of the world's cocoa, exporting 4,400 tons a year; it was at its peak in the 1960s with 22,000 tons of cacao exported each year. Source: GreenBiz. Projects like Corinne's not only have the chance to increase production, valuing cocoa at a higher price than usual, but will keep more cacao in country for personal consumption.) 

 Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya 

Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya 

Related links:
- Haitian hot chocolate utilizing artisan/rustic cacao with anise and cinnamon. Chocolat pays (of the Haitian terroir), also known as chokola peyi in Haitian Creole (such as this recipe). 
- Other entrepreneurs changing the artisan landscape in Haiti; MyaBel craft cocktails & condiment saucesYve-Car Momperousse CEO and co-founder of Kreyol Essence
- Askanya evolved from Aschersleben, Germany, Corinne's husband's hometown & geography of Troy

Mentors and consultants for Askanya: 
Chloe Doutre Roussel
Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe & Cacao de Origen, Venezuela
Charley Wheelock, Woodblock Chocolate, Oregon
Dan O'Doherty Cacao Services

Follow Askanya & Corinne: 
Askanya's (multi-language) website
Askanya on instagram
Askanya on Facebook 
Askanya on Twitter

I love podcasts as it might be evident! One of my absolute favorites is 'On Being' with Krista Tippett. Just before launching this episode, a beautiful interview with flutist/musician Nathalie Joachim was released, 'Songs of Haiti's Women'; check it out, as an amazing complement to Corinne's episode. 

 Woman holding Haitian cacao Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya

Woman holding Haitian cacao Photo credit: Les Chocolateries Askanya

Episode 20: Jael Rattigan Co-CEO & Co-Founder of French Broad Chocolates

Description: Jael is humble, smart, and super cool...the kind of cool with leather jackets and bangs, as if a modern (clothed) Bettie Page were making bonbons. Now she co-runs French Broad Chocolates, with 80 employees and growing, and a new chocolate factory expansion around the corner. Alice Medrich's Bittersweet launched her into following her chocolate journey until the day she proclaimed "chocolate is the thing that will make me happy." Local food philosophy has always played an important role in the businesses she co-creates, and even to this day, eleven years after settling in Asheville, North Carolina, FBC continues to take chocolate, food partnerships, and local community seriously. 

Jael's story is also deeply connected to her husband Dan Rattigan, partner in life and business. From rolling truffles to dropping out of grad school together, buying a 40 ft school bus and transforming it into a used-vegetable-oil-running-RV, from Minnesota to the southern coast of Costa Rica and back up towards NC, their love and business savvy blossomed along the way.

jael rattigan french broad on well tempered (2).jpg

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Hitting the road with your passions onboard...literally
  • The success of 'Bread & Chocolate' the Rattigan's first venture, a breakfast/lunch/dessert cafe with a from-scratch kitchen confirmed their obsession with making and sourcing directly
  • Choosing Asheville, NC - great food scene, wonderful outdoor activities, local business support 
  • Moving from a chocolatier business model to a bean-to-bar 'chocolate lounge' 
  • Your business foundation outlasting you; long term planning & forecasting several years ahead
  • Listening to customers, employees, trends 
  • Telling the story of chocolate & defining your company's manifesto as your North Star to communicate to employees and customers
  • Scaling up to accommodate 12,000 square feet in a repurposed factory building, with a capacity of 70 metric tonnes of craft chocolate 
  • Certifications on chocolate, consumer learning curve & chocolate packaging 
  • Why partnerships of value are more import to FBC than exclusivity of an origin 
  • MBA of life vs an MBA degree
  • Finding fulfillment in your ever changing roles as your business grows 
  • Distribution in Japan, a bean to bar specialty chocolate hotspot 
  • Investors & quarterly reports 
 Photo credit: French Broad Chocolates

Photo credit: French Broad Chocolates

Relevant links from the episode: 
- B Lab, the non-profit behind certified B Corp businesses
- Bien Cuit Brooklyn Bakery in Fast Company 

What chocolate Jael would take to the Cosmos: 
- her favorite chocolate chip cookie (which FBC will have plenty of in their future creamery space; you heard it here first!)
- hazelnut dragees
- a robust dark chocolate for "cosmic downtime" 

 Have you tried their Nibby Chocolate Chip Cookie? Photo credit: French Broad Chocolates

Have you tried their Nibby Chocolate Chip Cookie? Photo credit: French Broad Chocolates

Jael & FBC's links:
Website: French Broad Chocolates
Twitter: @FrenchBroadChoc
Instagram: @FrenchBroadChocolates
Facebook: French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Where to buy French Broad Chocolates in your area

Where to find Lauren, host of Well Tempered and chocolate maker at WKND Chocolate: 
Instagram: @wkndchocolate @welltemperedpodcast 
Facebook: WKND Chocolate 
Email: podcast@wkndchocolate.com

::Just a few spots left for the Mujeres Milagros Retreat for #womeninchocolate June 10-14, 2018 in Santa Fe, New Mexico:: 

Submit a nomination for future podcasts: https://goo.gl/forms/vzhbiUoxTCu3G55H2
Join the Well Tempered Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/welltempered/

by Lauren WKND

Episode 19: Emily Stone CEO of Uncommon Cacao, Supply Chain Specialist, Entrepreneur, Activist

Episode description: Emily Stone is the new kind of intermediary in the cocoa supply chain. She's positioned herself as a leader and innovator in the space by linking the craft / premium chocolate industry with an ever-growing portfolio of smallholder farmer partners in 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries, including indigenous communities in Belize and Guatemala. She's navigated organic certification models, antiquated commodity structures, and built a team of empowered changemakers, all of this in favor of direct relationships, sustainable agroforestry landscapes, and centralized fermentation for high-quality fine flavor cacao. 

Eight years after co-founding Maya Mountain Cacao in 2010 (of which Uncommon Cocoa Group is the umbrella), Uncommon Cacao now connects more than 4,000+ direct relationships at origin with 150 chocolate companies across the world who import their certified organic dried cocoa beans to make single origin chocolates and confections. Studying sociology and Arabic at Georgetown University, she speaks Spanish and Q'eqchi Maya, and maintains economic justice, impact and transparency as canons of her work and life. She's appeared in Forbes, Huffington Post, and is a 2017 Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) 'Recognition of Excellence' winner for Outstanding Contribution at Origin in Sustainability of Fine Chocolate. 

 Photo credit:  Erik Hammar

Photo credit: Erik Hammar

Themes discussed in this episode: 
- Where passion, serendipity, and Google searching collided to bring together Alex Whitmore of Taza and Emily
- Creating smallholder farmer forward systems
- Recognition of the hard work that farmers undertake daily and the longevity of the existence of their craft (cacao farming is not new)
- Things to consider as a chocolate maker requesting samples or considering a new origin for your line-up
- What to expect within an intermediary relationship, and what may or may not be consistent in your sourcing practices
- Impacts of quality and sustainability improvements on farmers and radical transparency
- Commodity market's price fall and how that image is affecting specialty cacao (which is not getting less costly, especially as origin countries continue to develop); the importance of de-commoditization
- How your investment - regardless of purchasing power - in premium cacao translates
- Meeting consumers where they are; Innovation in fine chocolate; clusters, bark, drinking chocolate, new product development

Links related to this episode:

Uncommon Cacao's 2016 Transparency Report

Gualberto and Adriano of Oko Caribe, Dominican Republic and their commitment to reliable harvests
Daniel O'Doherty Founder and lead consultant at Cacao Services
Mutari drinking chocolate in Santa Cruz, California 
Versions of craft milk chocolates (and many award winning); French Broad's Malted Milk 44%, Chequessett Chocolate's Mass Bay Milk Bar 45%, Sirene Chocolate's Dark Milk bars 

 Photo credit: Uncommon Cacao in Tumaco Colombia

Photo credit: Uncommon Cacao in Tumaco Colombia

#WomenInChocolate 2017 Year in Review

Earlier this week I mentioned in one of WKND Chocolate's instagram posts that I was interested in creating more traditions and rituals moving forward. I've moved around a fair amount since university and have struggled to find certain stability in my professional and social lives. Diving into craft chocolate with intention and ambition has also proven to test my steadfastness and tenacity; taking on three spinning plates - WKND chocolate making and brand building, Well Tempered podcast research/creation/editing, and Well Tempered community management, has been quite the feat. Within that however, I've come to learn of and/or meet incredibly talented and equally driven (busy, plate-spinning!?) people in the industry who rouse me to continue on this chocolate journey -- and I know there are so many more to uncover. Not for a minute do I want to stop telling her stories, thus, the 'year in review' post will become a new tradition, and will allow for a greater number of women in chocolate to share their accomplishments of the last year and wishes for the next, until perhaps I have the opportunity to interview and record each and every one....

Literally thousands of thank you's are owed from this year alone on my behalf, but some imperative ones are: to my Mujeres Milagros gals - Sophia Rea and Tamara LaValla in particular for leading the charge, Tania Molina of VillaKuyaya for showing me her Ecuador, donors of the Peruvian cacao farmers fundraiser following spring flooding and Brian Horsley (Marañón Chocolate) for assisting/delivering, podcast alumni, Carol Morse for the maker-ship, Pashmina Lalchandani (Bar & Cocoa) for epic chocolate tasting sessions, to #womeninchocolate gatherings and boss ladies like Callie Neylan stepping up to host, ladies of Yellow Seed for listening, the Utah folks for a great wknd of tours, role models, for anyone who tasted and provided feedback for WKND, and Estelle Tracy for saving the day. 

And you, thank you for your continued support. Thank you for believing in these times as the renaissance of fine cacao/chocolate; we have so much to be grateful for, and so much to work towards, and to have this chance is marvelous. 

- Lauren Heineck, Founder of WKND Chocolate & the Well Tempered Community, Host/Creator of the Well Tempered Podcast



Samanta Bakker, Chocolate Maker, Chocolatier & Patissier at Monsieur Truffle in Melbourne 

This year has been full of great ingredients, surprising and delicious chocolate and lots of challenges. I’m very thankful that I have been able to use amazing products and make chocolate that tastes good without adding any hidden nasties.

Also, this year I sent Monsieur Truffle's first milk chocolate bar to the International Chocolate Awards and I’m very proud that we got a bronze from the Asia-Pacific Competition. It was the first time that I sent any of my chocolates to a competition, and it feels great to receive recognition for hard work.

I’m very grateful to be a part of such a great industry, full of people doing amazing things and so kind to share their knowledge with everyone to help each other in a disinterested way.

I hope next year will be full of interesting challenges, great flavors and amazing chocolate to be discovered. So many things to do and learn and so little time...

 Samanta Bakker of Monsieur Truffle 

Samanta Bakker of Monsieur Truffle 

Monsieur Truffle Website
Instagram @samanta_bakker @monsieurtruffle
Monsieur Truffle on Facebook


Zelia Frangioni,Chocolatras Online, Founder, Writer & Chocolate Reviewer in Sao Paulo

I had three important choco-moments in 2017. For the first time in my life, I had the chance to visit cacao farms in person, and this was an incredible experience in my own country. I tasted cacao pulp at the plantation, on a day of hot sun interspersed with some moments of heavy rain. The smell of wet nature and the view of the cacao trees surrounded by the “Mata Atlantica” (rainforest) were amazing. It is so amazing to me that that is where great chocolates begin, cacao plantations!

I later had the opportunity to be a juror of the International Chocolate Awards, where some of the best chocolates in the world end up to receive prestigious recognition. The chocolates I tasted, the people I met and the first judging experience are highlights in my choco-life. Lastly, I worked very hard organizing the first Brazilian Bean to Bar Chocolate Award show and I am happy that it was a success.

I am very grateful for all the people I met this year, from cacao farmers, chocolate makers, tasters, chocolatiers, and chocolate experts. I have learned so much with all of them, including the Well Tempered podcast.

For 2018, I hope to see the Brazilian bean to bar movement grow. That is where I want to help. I want the market to understand the craft bean to bar concept, so we can have more people interested in making this kind of chocolate. I wish also that I can meet many more women and men in this wonderful chocolate world.

Zelia Chocolatras Online.jpg

Chocolatras Online Website
Instagram @chocolatrasonline
YouTube Channel, Chocolatras Online


Elfi Maldonado, Co-founder & chocolate maker of Qantu Chocolat in Montreal


2017 has been an exciting year for us at Qantu. We are honored and driven to continue in this chocolate adventure because of the recognition we received, both in London via the Academy of Chocolate with two Golds and a Silver just a few months into this. In October we received another two, this time from the International Chocolate Awards. We were over the moon when our friends texted us the results since we were not present in person. 

We also had the privilege to collaborate with numerous creatives in Montreal at La Souk, a Christmas market/exposition that I've admired for many years. It is traditionally made up of design icons of the region and vendors are chosen under a very strict evaluation system. To be a part of this in 2017 was a highlight for me. 

Thirdly, my visit to Quillabamba, Cuzco was another point of interest for the year. I met Augusto Palomino and his family who are dedicated to preserving the native variety of Chuncho cacao, with over a dozen varieties growing on the farm. They are like family now. We are still working on the final concept, but a goal of ours is to launch a 100% heirloom inspired chocolate that we will call 'Augustina.' 

In 2018 I want to have a more active role in preserving heirloom varietal cacao. We will work more diligently and directly with the cooperatives and producer friends. As a business, we will continue to rely on our mission statement of promoting the biodiversity of where we source our cacao. We will also look to more firmly establish the business - with the intention of being more stable and planned, as the previous year was one of implantation and adapting to the market. 

Connecting with local ambassadors with be crucial and exciting. We will launch a Qantu chocolate ice cream around Easter with chefs at Les Givrés, which happens to be my favorite local ice cream shop. 

Another chef that I admire, Marcel Larrea, of the restaurant Tiradito will work with us on an exclusive dessert recipe. It's a surprise still - so we'll see! Many other projects like this are in brainstorming mode. 

In Spanish:
1. ¿Cuáles han sido tus momentos o hitos más importantes del 2017 para ti / Qantu? ¿Qué has aprendido de ellos o que te da gratitud?


La premiacion de Qantu en Londres( Academy of chocolate). Fue súper mágico para nosotros lograr dos medallas de oro y una de plata a pocos meses de comenzar con esta aventura. 

En Octubre también tuvimos dos medallas más del International Chocolate Awards, fue super especial cuando nuestras amigas en Londres nos mandaban mensajes con los resultados!!

2.- La Souk@sat: SER PARTE DE CREADORES INSPIRANTES Y LOCALES.   Es como una exposición venta de Navidad donde solo participan artesanos iconos de diseño en Montréal, son escogidos bajo un sistema de evaluación muy estricto. Hace años que admiro este evento con todo mi corazón y este 2017 fuimos parte y fue Top top top cada creador tiene una magia especial! 

3.- Mi visita a Quillabamba - Cuzco

Conoci a Augusto Palomino y familia.  Ellos se estan dedicando a preservar el cacao Chuncho y en su finca tiene una docena de variedades es alucinante. Ahora ellos son nuestra  familia y nuestro reto es presentar al mundo AUGUSTINA, la tableta 100% inspiration nativa. Aun estamos trabajando  el concepto. 

2. ¿Qué esperas para el 2018 tanto para ti/Qantu y la industria en sí?
Elfi:  Tener un rol más activo en la preservación de cacao nativo. Voy a trabajar de la mano de las cooperativas de cacao con las que trabajamos y directamente con algunos amigos productores.

Qantu: El 2018 vamos a continuar con nuestra misión de promover la biodiversidad.Estabilización de la empresa. El 2017 fue un año de implementación, de adaptación al mercado. El 2018 todo tiene que ser mas estable, más planificado.

Alianzas con embajadores locales. Estamos trabajando con embajadores locales. Lanzamos el helado Qantu en Pascuas de la mano de Les Givrés, mis helados favoritos. 

Un postre creación de un chef que yo admiro mucho Marcel Larrea del restaurant TIRADITO. Aun no sé en qué consiste pero me dijo que sera una sorpresa.  Y algunos más que aun estamos en brainstorming.

 Photo credit: Elfi Maldonado, Qantu Chocolat

Photo credit: Elfi Maldonado, Qantu Chocolat

Qantu Chocolat Website
Instagram @qantu_chocolat
Facebook @qantuchocolate

The Netherlands

Rita Zam, Founder & Chocolatier at La Carambole Patisserie, Amsterdam

2017 was an launching off point for me as I am relatively new to the field of chocolate. My background is in theater and art. The defining moment for me was when I felt the connection between art and bonbons. I am grateful for having found my element and meeting truly passionate people from the field along the way. Hoja Verde is a great example of that kind of relationship and dedication to craft, and I am proud to use their grown & made in Ecuador bean-to-bar chocolate in my creations. 

In 2018 I hope to be able to switch to bean to bar couvertures exclusively. This way I can offer the best pralines and support chocolate makers who do craft work, and also create unique tastes and flavor profiles for my own products. Handcrafted chocolate is not shy, it has much more energy and character than the stock blends, and this matches extremely well with how I design my chocolates. Due to the way my confections look, it is much easier for me to put artisanal chocolate in the spotlight. It gives a great feeling both to me and to my customers that sustainable, well-made ingredients are used and there is a lot of research into picking the right flavors. In 2018 I am also looking forward to the development of vegan chocolate formulations, which is a very active field at the moment – the demand for vegan products is increasing and it is going to be an exciting challenge to offer bonbons that exceed the highest of expectations in both presentation and taste.

 Rita Zam, La Carambole Patisserie 

Rita Zam, La Carambole Patisserie 

La Carambole Patisserie Website
Instagram @sweet_carambole


Marllory Saurin, Mishky Cacao in Chazuta, San Martin

The most important moment of 2017 for me personally was when we participated in the Expo Amazonica business event. It made me realize a few things: such as, selling vs. negotiating your product, just how large this industry is, and also how revered and appreciated San Martin chocolate is. As for our company, Mishky Cacao, it's a privilege to continue to participate in Peru's largest festivals and chocolate salons, e.g. Mistura. We are also deeply moved and inspired by the Peruvian and international visitors who come to see and tour our tiny factory. They love, appreciate, and value our work, and these are incredible reasons to push forward as an enterprise. 

In 2018 we're putting a tremendous effort to scale up our business, both professionally and interpersonally. We always say "We (women) want to leave a legacy." We understand that the beloved chocolate industry is very broad, but we're positioning ourselves at this moment to be a brand in a niche market. I hope that the industry as a whole can increase consumer awareness through global marketing campaigns, ones that highlight good chocolate of course. This could be done through social media, media outlets, or forming specialty groups that will get the word out. 

In Spanish:
1. ¿Cuáles han sido tus momentos o hitos más importantes del 2017 para ti / Mishky? ¿Qué
has aprendido de ellos o que te da gratitud?

Personalmente el momento más importante fue participar en la rueda de negocios del evento
denominado “Expo Amazónica”; realmente pude darme cuenta cómo funciona en sí el hecho
vender o de negociar tu producto, lo inmenso que es esta industria y cuan querido y apreciado
es nuestro chocolate San Martinense.

Como Mishky Cacao para nosotros es un privilegio seguir participando en la ferias más grandes
de nuestro Perú como el “salón del cacao y el chocolate”, “Mistura” y mas también nos
reconforta y nos anima a seguir avanzando es la visita a nuestra pequeña fábrica de personas
de diferentes lugares tanto nacionales o extranjeros. Ellos (as) aman, aprecian y valoran
nuestro trabajo y eso para nosotros es y será siempre un motivo y razón para seguir avanzando
2. ¿Qué esperas para el 2018 tanto para ti/Mishky y la industria en sí?
Para el 2018 nuestra meta es CRECER empresarialmente y como calidad persona. Siempre lo
decimos “Nosotras queremos dejar un legado”. Sabemos que la industria del muy apreciado y
bendito chocolate es muy amplia; lo que esperamos por ahora es posicionarnos como marca
en el mercado nicho. Lo que espero de la industria en si es motivar o animar más al mundo
entero a consumir chocolate (el buen chocolate) claro, por medio de marketing. Se puede usar
aún más las redes sociales, formar grupos que nos pasemos la voz y regar información en
internet, periódicos, televisión, eventos, etc.

mallory misky peru .jpg

Mishky Cacao on Facebook
Read more via Medium

United Kingdom

Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolate, Manchester, England

What has been the defining moment of 2017 for you & Dormouse? What other milestones are you grateful for this year

There have been so many amazing moments for Dormouse this year, its hard to narrow it down to just one! I think the absolute highlight has been winning UK Rising Star at the Academy of Chocolate, it was something that was completely unexpected – I remember when it was announced at the awards ceremony thinking it was odd that there was another company called Dormouse there while all of our friends pushed us forward to go and accept the award! I’m so grateful to the Academy for recognising our hard work, and it has opened so many doors for us.

We were also lucky enough to have our toasted white chocolate appear in a feature on white chocolate on Sunday Brunch (a weekly TV show in the UK) which was absolutely crazy! We weren’t prepared for just how many people wanted to buy a bar after seeing it on TV!

What's on the horizon for 2018, what are you most looking forward to within your business and the industry? 

We have just upgraded to a larger grinder which will double our production capacity, so 2018 should hopefully bring lots more chocolate! With the increased capacity we are hoping to expand our product range, so look out for new origins and more!

Within the industry I am looking forward to seeing more women makers rise to the top, there are some amazing women working in the industry and I would love to see more ways for us to network . At the London Chocolate Show someone gathered as many female makers as they could find together for a group photo and its great to see the numbers rising

In the UK it also feels like bean to bar chocolate is becoming more mainstream so I am looking forward to seeing how that develops this year. I think the rising numbers of makers mean we all have to up our game, think outside the box and push ourselves to develop amazing chocolate. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

 Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolate

Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolate

Dot, Erin, Teagan & Sam of Neary Nogs in Northern Ireland

In 2017 we took the the leap to grow. We started to upscale our business in the beginning of the year as we were not able to keep up with demand. It's been a huge labour of chocolate love on every side and yet a very rewarding experience. Learning to use bigger equipment comes with a few hiccups but the fun we have had is definitely worth the adventure! The mess we've made at time making bars has been epic and so much trial & error. Working together as a family & as women has certainly brought us closer together and made us appreciate each other's strengths. 

During this year we won a local award for best artisan product for our bean to bar chocolate and that was huge for us to be able to share what we do as part of broader island life. 

Also, It was fantastic to attend the London Chocolate Show, showcase our chocolate with Bean to Bar Britain and meet and greet so many chocolate makers from around the world! Our chocolate community is filled with beautiful people who are passionate about what we all do.

For 2018 we have on deck mostly bars, bars, and more bars; making Irish craft chocolate...one slow batch at a time! We are hoping to visit a cacao farm or two this year, an "origin trip" as they say. 

In the New Year we are very excited to have our online shop up and running, as well as hosting tours in our tiny chocolate factory in collaboration with local food organisations. www.nearynogs.com

Our hope for the industry is that through sharing craft chocolate locally and raising awareness of cacao farms, the bean to bar process in events & schools, will we provide the keys to a greater understanding & appreciation of cacao. Personally, we love learning the traditions, origins and science of the art of chocolate, then sharing what we learn. 

 The ladies of Neary Nogs Chocolate

The ladies of Neary Nogs Chocolate

Neary Nogs Website
Instagram @nearynogschocolate
Twitter @nearynogschoc
Facebook @NearyNogsArtisanChocolate 

United States

Victoria Cooksey, Chocolate Reviewer & Blogger/Vlogger (Washington State)

A defining moment of 2017 in chocolate for me personally was interviewing Shawn Askinosie. Shawn’s overall positive nature, humility (even though he clearly knows his stuff), and supportive attitude was just what I needed at that time in life and he really renewed my enthusiasm about the craft chocolate industry as a whole. I am grateful to Shawn and to everyone who has taken their precious time to allow me to interview them and interact with them through social media; and a special thank you to everyone who as been a part of my blog projects. I am grateful to see all the new craft chocolate books and for projects like Hazel Lee’s 'Taste with Colour' that came out this year, because it shows that craft chocolate continues to grow and has room for many varied avenues. Also for the expanding maker lines available, from the wave of high quality white chocolate bars, all the way to the ever more tasty 100% bars.  So much to explore! I also have gratitude for everyone I got to both catch up with and meet for the first time at The Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. 

My plans for 2018 are to continue to review craft chocolate and make my review videos, along with completing even more interviews with those in the craft chocolate industry.  I look forward to meeting more chocolate makers and other reviewers in the future. And now, to count down the days until the next Northwest Chocolate Festival so I can hang out with many of you in person again! Yay!

 Photo credit: Victoria Cooksey

Photo credit: Victoria Cooksey


Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews Website by Victoria Cooksey 
Instagram @victoria.cooksey
YouTube Channel


Jody Hayden Co-Owner & Chocolatier at Grocer's Daughter Chocolate (Michigan) 

Here are some of the most exciting moments for us in 2017:

- Every spring for several years now I've organized and lead trips to Ecuador to visit our partner farmers. This past year our trip was especially momentous because two very special people joined the trip, my 18 year old nephew, Brady Dotson, who was a senior in high school at the time of the trip and Molly Flerlage, the longest standing GDC employee, having worked at the chocolate shop since she was 11 and now a senior at Macalester in St. Paul. It's always a great joy to share our passion and connections with people, especially two super smart, change-making young adults that I admire so much. 

- In May of 2017, in an effort to glean interest and get feedback from craft chocolatiers and colleagues, I hosted my dear friend, Jenny Samaniego of Conexion Chocolate, and her partner Pablo Torres, on a short tour of several chocolatiers and chocolate professionals in the Upper Midwest. Many of these chocolatiers I've admired from a distance but hadn't had the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Without exception, they all opened their doors to us, providing valuable feedback and sharing the realities of their respective businesses (and serving us fantastic chocolate, of course). To receive such a warm embrace from our fellow chocolatiers was a wonderful thing and a great reminder that we are stronger together than we are alone.  

- We have partnered with Jenny Samaniego from Conexion for several years to source our chocolate for GDC and this year we decided to offer her fantastic chocolate to other like-minded chocolatiers, chef and chocolate enthusiasts throughout the United States. We raised almost $200,000.00 to bring in our first container of Conexion Chocolate into the country and, in November, it cleared US customs. Yahoo! Through our newly forming buying club called The Chocolate Squad, we now have available Conexion Chocolate's organic, direct trade chocolate and couverture made from Nacional cacao. It's delicious! (And, if you're interested, we have it in 81%, (3) 70% from different co-ops, 64%, 55% and 43% Dark Milk. 

- I was at a small breakout session during the NW Chocolate Festival Unconference, sitting at the table with Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe from Venezuela, Luisa Abram and her sister from Brazil, Jenny Samaniego from Ecuador and a few others, discussing what it was like to be a woman working in chocolate. What struck me was that these women, undoubtedly some of the most influential change-makers in chocolate in South America today, were incredibly down-to-earth and open. I've had many conversations with my friend and chocolate buyer at Zingerman's, Emily Case, who wishes to connect with more women makers, especially those who are making chocolate in countries of origin. She notes that most of our craft chocolate industry is dominated by white men simply because they have better access to resources and/or savvy to grow their businesses and market their brands. The conversation with this group of women made it clear to me why it's important for our industry to support and promote women-makers, and especially those who aren't in the United States. We have a lot to learn from one another and a collaborative, open approach from a variety of perspectives stands to benefit our entire industry. 

So it was another year of operating our craft chocolate confections business in lovely Northern Michigan; serving our loyal customers; sourcing super yummy chocolate and ingredients from small family farms; working with our fantastic staff; supporting community events and initiatives; and eating great chocolate. 2017 was a great year and we expect no less from 2018! 

 Jody Hayden of Grocer's Daughter with her family (all chocoholics!) 

Jody Hayden of Grocer's Daughter with her family (all chocoholics!) 

Grocer's Daughter Website & The Chocolate Squad
Instagram @grocersdaughter
Facebook: Grocer's Daughter Chocolate
Twitter: GDCEmpire


Jyl Kutsche, Founder of The Yoga of Chocolate (& an E.R.Y.T. 500)

I'm deeply grateful for three highlights of 2017 that I would qualify as both defining moments & milestones for this year.

1. I was standing in the middle of one of Heriberto Chujandama Tapullima's (of Rio Bosque in Chazuta, San Martin, Peru) cacao farms, and we were surrounded by the most beautiful array of native trees and next to this magnificent, mature ayahuasca vine. Despite my limited Spanish, when Heriberto gestured with his arm at both the trees and the vine, and said "medicina", I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This farmer, so passionate about his work with cacao -- not only for the beautiful chocolate that it will eventually produce, but because of its medicinal value to the world, a world so deeply in need of this heart medicine these days. 

2. Without the beautiful community created and brought together through Well Tempered, I would never have crossed paths with Robin & Marcos from Ucayali River Cacao in Pucallpa, Peru. The first post I ever saw within the Facebook group was one from Robin. I had been in Pucallpa for several months, trying to connect with anyone growing fine flavor cacao there to no avail. Until I saw that post. I had no idea who they were, or what they were doing; I just replied "you're in Pucallpa??" He invited me to meet them the next morning to come see their processing facilities. I agreed to meet him at 6:30 am (mind, you I had no idea who I was actually meeting). We arrived just in time to see 9 tons of raw cacao being received. That was pure magic. (Not to mention they spoke English!)

3. Mujeres Milagros*! A community was born that weekend in September '17 in Santa Fe. Or maybe it was more of a movement? And it wasn't just limited to those of us who were lucky to be in attendance. To me, it felt much bigger than "us". And very much needed - a non-virtual space to share, to be heard, to nurture and be nourished, and to simply BE. Like chocolate, women need that...especially women in chocolate!

For 2018:
I'm a long-time yoga instructor who's worked in the world of chocolate in many different ways for almost 20 years now...so a big struggle has been how to define (and to a certain degree, justify) what I'm doing...and why! I have this feeling that some of the pieces to this puzzle will be coming together in the next year. I'm taking a huge leap of faith and leading my first The Yoga of Chocolate retreat in Peru at the end of May. I've led TYoC workshops all over the world for over 8 years now - and in them I legitimately weave together the more internal, contemplative aspects of Yoga with the subtleties that can be experienced when tasting fine chocolate. The retreat will expand on this to include things besides chocolate, of course, but I find chocolate to be a beautiful partner/tool in this work. It's how I've worked with it for many years and it's been a powerful teacher for me. 

I'm also working on this idea for a project that would bridge together the cacao farmers I love in Peru to the people in the west that I present my workshops to or hold ceremony for. It's also symbolic of my yearning to better bridge together my two "worlds" of yoga & cacao. 

Jyl the yoga of chocolate.jpg

TYoC website www.theyogaofchocolate.com
Jyl's May yoga & chocolate retreat in Peru
Contact: jylmarie@gmail.com
Instagram: @jylmarieyoga
*Jyl is the Mujeres Milagros resident yoga instructor and you can experience her classes at this June's upcoming retreat 


Barbie Van Horn, Craft Chocolate Educator & Creator of Finding Fine Chocolate

In 2017 I tasted all the way around the world, or at least as I refer to it - the cacao belt.  I tasted all of the bars I had from each origin, all categorized by region within the origin.  It was an amazing journey that completely changed the way I taste and log my tastings. Now I can easily compare origins, regions, and makers to see consistencies and variations as well as my personal favorites. 

I'm most grateful for the people in the chocolate community who perform random acts of kindness that support and encourage when I'm experiencing moments of disappointment or loneliness. Most of the time these people don't even know that their simple acts, invitations, and conversations carry the loads of encouragement needed at that precise moment. It has happened so many times that it can't be coincidence. This is a very special group of people and I'm so very thankful to be connected.  

In 2018 I'm going to embark on another around the cacao belt tasting, going a bit more in depth this time.  I can hardly wait to get started!  There are a few other projects  that are on the horizon that are more fun, one series of tastings all 100% and a few other themed tastings. I'll also continue with the palate training and have some fun exercises planned in that area too. And, I can't forget travel. I'm looking forward to exploring some new chocolate locations in 2018.  So much to look forward to!

 Photo credit: Barbie Van Horn 

Photo credit: Barbie Van Horn 


Facebook @FindingFineChocolate 
Instagram: @BarbieVanHorn & @findingfinechocolate
Twitter: @FindingChocolat



Asmiriam Roa, Barista & Chocolate Maker, Founder Andinos Bistro (Mérida)

The most incredible moment of 2017 for me was creating our (cafe's) first chocolate bar -- from the bean. It's such a marvelous experience to make it this way. 

I'm so very grateful to be able to work directly with cacao farmers, especially those of the Sur del Lago region, where you can find some of the finest specialty/fine flavor cacao in the world. Even considering the current political climate of my country, these producers have shown an immense dedication and interest in improving their post-harvest processing practices. 

Thanks to the newfound interest in the bean to bar movement and continued respect for Venezuelan cacao, I'm looking forward to a 2018 that is full of new projects, both within Venezuela and outside of it. I believe the industry can expect much more, and even better results -- we are in such a unique time of culture and consciousness, where every day we must work to be better and better. How lucky we are that our work revolves around the food of the Gods! 

In Spanish: 
El mejor momento en 2017 fue hacer nuestra primera barra bean to bar, esta ha sido una de la mas maravillosa experiencia. Lo que mas agradezco es poder trabajar de la mano con el productor de cacao, especialmente los productores de la Zona del Sur del Lago, donde encuentras de los cacaos extrafinos del mundo y pese a las dificultades de mi país estos productores han mostrado un inmenso interés en hacerle una mejor post cosecha a sus cacaos.

El 2018 me espera repleto de nuevos proyectos dentro y fuera de Venezuela, gracias al interés que genera nuestro cacao y el gran trabajo que se esta haciendo al momento de hacer chocolates bean to bar. La industria en 2018 espera aun mas y mejores resultados, estamos en una era de conciencia que nos lleva a esforzarnos cada día para ser mejores, que suerte poder hacerlo con el preciado alimento de los Dioses.

 Asmiriam Roa

Asmiriam Roa

Instagram @andinosbistrocafe & @asmiriamroa
Twitter @asmiriamroa

THANK YOU for reading! If you support #womeninchocolate please share this post. If you're a woman in cacao/chocolate (from the farm to the writer's room) please add yourself to this document; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WRRCN6jeel-Doxnr-mnbhr4idrBbzIKwszjNBycj0P0/edit?usp=sharing

Episode 18: Reverend Dr. RM Peluso of Deep Tasting Guide™ Series

Description: From touring rock singer to speech-language pathologist, to ordained minister, and the many lives thereafter, Rev. Dr. Peluso has made a career of combining her passions, mindfully. She cut her chops over a decade ago as a fine chocolate reviewer for the C-Spot, and from there went on to incorporate both a chocolate and meditation practice to her congregations hinging on new school tactics (she says after all, "...there's nothing more New World than chocolate..,"). She is most recently the author of the Deep Tasting Guide™ series; she lives in New York City with her husband and pooch (which you will hear a couple of times in the episode). Whiskey has captivated her attention as of late and in the latest book - that we discuss in detail in the show - she follows the grain trail to gloriously complement her tried and true chocolate journey. 

 Photo credit: RM Peluso

Photo credit: RM Peluso

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Combining chocolate and meditation & bringing chocolate to a spiritual community 
  • Methodology for pairings using flavor profiles; why is it a good pairing? 
  • Where does whiskey's flavor come from?; material of stills, yeasts, wood, etc. ~70% of flavor is maturation 
  • How aging reflects final price to consumer 
  • Hype; what validates a great bottle or wonderful chocolate? 
  • Deceptive packaging and the other way around 
  • Pilgrimages to chocolate & whiskey towns 

Related links form the episode: 

American Craft Spirits Association

The C-spot founded by Mark Christian

The Pew Research Center

Pappy Van Winkle

Soma Chocolatemaker in Toronto, Canada (founders Cynthia Leung & David Castellan) 

Fresh Coast Chocolate & Mammoth Distilling in Traverse City, Michigan

Dr. Peluso's Links:

Website: Chocolate Tasting Meditation™ / CTM™ (http://www.ctm-chocolate-tasting-meditation.com/)

Books: Deep Tasting: A Chocolate Lover's Guide to Meditation


Deep Tasting: Chocolate & Whiskey
- Special offer from the author; signed limited edition with color pages not available through online retailers. Email revrmpeluso@gmail.com to arrange; same retail price as the commercial edition plus at-cost shipping charges via choice of delivery options.