Who are we?
We are Richard and Landen, and our experience with Root Chocolate brings together our passions and expertise into one adventure. Richard’s passion for healthy living has led him to challenges like hiking the Lost Coast, a 50-mile race through Marin County, and exploring the sea with his Advanced Scuba Diving certification. A strong believer in the power of balance, Richard is careful to ensure each of his meals includes all of the food groups. With a background in scientific formulation, he brings a chemist’s expertise to chocolate experimentation, combined with a desire to provide a healthy and delicious option to chocolate-lovers like Landen!
Landen’s love of cooking comes from her Nona, whose gnocchi recipe still inspires flour-flinging, potato-kneading adventures in the kitchen. Her travels in Latin America have exposed her to new culinary challenges like mole, tlayudas, pozole, and now chocolate. Believing deeply in the importance of a transparent and sustainable supply chains, Landen is excited to share the stories and strategies of the cacao farmers she meets along the way!
How did we start making chocolate?
We were visiting friends in Los Angeles, Richard’s former stomping ground, and took a trip to the Grand Central Market. Our intention was to find authentic mole from one of the Mexican booths. And we sure found it! We also found a variety of other interesting Latin American treats. As Landen was chatting it up in Spanish with the friendly woman manning the booth, Richard came across a bin full of something he had never seen before. We were told that those brown, dried, crusty pellets were granos de cacao or cocoa beans. It took a split second for us to decide to bring home a kilo. Back home in the Bay Area, we found the scientific video that started Richard’s R&D wheels turning, How to Make Chocolate From Scratch. For the rest, check out our first blog post!
Why should you read our blog?
Do you care about the quality of your chocolate? Do you care where it came from and whose lives it touched along the way? Do you want it to taste good and still be good for you?
We do! If you do, too, then join us on our journey of tasting, creating, and exploring chocolate!
What do we mean by “chocolate?”
You may notice we’re not referring to your average Hershey’s bar. Let us take you to the root of the chocolate cultivation and production process. The chocolate we’re talking about starts with the Theobroma tree, which grows between 20 degrees north of the equator and 20 degrees south of the equator. This tree produces the cocoa pods filled with slimy cocoa beans that eventually result in the chocolate you recognize today. The tree has a wide variety of genetic variation and experts are still debating and discovering the many strains of fine flavor cacao in the world.
Like coffee beans, flavor varies significantly by region, strain of the bean, and environment the bean is grown in. That’s before we even get to the chocolate production stage. Some say the flavor is derived equally from four areas: the genetics, the environment, the fermentation process, and finally, roasting. Beyond that, there are also flavor implications in conching the chocolate liquor, tempering the chocolate, and of course additives like sugar, milk, or spices.
Join us on our exploration of the health benefits, multitude of flavors, and many methods of making chocolate in our home!
As we learn and grow, we hope to turn chocolate-making from a hobby to a side-business. In the meantime, check out our blog and let us know your thoughts! We’ll let you know if we’re hosting tasting parties or any other opportunities to get involved.
Update 9/10: You can now follow us on Twitter!
Thanks for your support!
-Landen & Richard