We started the year off right with some serious chocolate schmoozing!
This past weekend, San Francisco hosted the FCIA Winter Event, the Good Food Awards and the Winter Fancy Food Show. Quick congratulations to the following chocolate companies for their big wins in the Good Food Awards:
- Acalli Chocolate, El Platanal (Chulucanas, Peru) 70% Dark Chocolate, Louisiana
- Black Mountain Chocolate, Mountain Milk Bar, North Carolina
- Charm School Chocolate, Coconut Milk Chocolate, Maryland
- Dandelion Chocolate, Butuo, Liberia 70%, California
- Escazu Chocolates, 70% Tumbes, Peru, North Carolina
- French Broad Chocolates, 68% Nicaragua, North Carolina
- Guittard Chocolate Company, Collection Etienne 45% Cacao, California
- Maverick Chocolate Co., Fahrenheit 513, Ohio
- Nathan Miller Chocolate, Ghana 70%, Pennsylvania
- Patric Chocolate, 67% Madagascar, Black Licorice Bar & PBJ OMG, Missouri
While we did not attend any of the official events this weekend, we were present at two more intimate gatherings of chocolate makers. We feel very fortunate to be friends of Dandelion and were able to attend both an informal chocolate-makers’ meet-up on Friday night, hosted at Four Barrel Coffee, and the post-FCIA brunch Sunday morning.
At the Friday night event, I arrived a little late, but in plenty of time to hear some great tidbits from the experts. It was packed with people sitting high on bags of coffee, on the floor, and anywhere there was space. When someone asked how to work with cocoa farmers, I was excited to hear some of the panelists expand on my favorite topic! Greg from Dandelion talked about wanting the farmers to be as excited about their product as he is, and expecting to not just buy something but to also build something together. Jesse, sourcer of Cacao Vivo talked about the importance of transparency, direct trade, and feedback. In the meantime, Hugo Hermelink, a cocoa farmer from Costa Rica, spoke up about the financial troubles of running a cacao operation. I met many of the Dandelion staff members, people from Raaka, indi, and Videri, among others.
Sunday morning, with an even larger group, I was almost starstruck (chocolate-struck?) at the names of people in the room. Some had written books or articles I have poured over. Others make amazing chocolate or source beans from ethically responsible co-ops or connect chocolate-makers to beans or educate the public about the bean-to-bar industry. It was amazing to meet Steve De Vries of De Vries Chocolate, Sunita of The Chocolate Garage, Jose of Mindo Chocolate in Ecuador/Michigan and his cacao farmer friend of an Ecuadorian co-op, Clay Gordon of The Chocolate Life (see posts on our previous phone interview on “living the chocolate life” and on making chocolate at home), Brian of Northwest Chocolate Festival, Adam and Matthew of Mutari Hot Chocolate (locals in Santa Cruz!), as well as many many others.
We also got to connect with old friends – Dave and Corey of Letterpress Chocolate, Eli of Bisou, Greg of Dandelion, and Brian of Endorfin, among others. Check out Dandelion’s picture of the event in their Valencia Cafe.
It was such an adventure to learn from these experts and hear suggestions for our own chocolate activities. We’re looking forward to trying a few new experiments in the near future. Keep an eye out for more fun in the world of Root Chocolate!