This Valentine’s Day, make your love go twice as far by supporting businesses that give back every day. Our lineup comprises both US and European confectioners and bean to bar makers who seek to create more equitable relationshops for cacao farmers, company employees, and community members at large.
1. Askinosie Chocolate: The brown paper packaging says it all: every bar of small batch Askinosie Chocolate features an image of the cacao farmer who grew the beans used for that particular origin bar. And owner Shawn Askinowsie’s consciousness raising doesn’t stop there. Every year through Chocolate University, the lawyer- turned- chocolate maker brings local high school students to Tanzania to meet with cacao farmers to learn about sustainability, entrepreneurship, and about being global citizens in a changing world. Local school children of all ages participate in programs at the chocolate factory learning first hand how good business practices can solve world problems. (www.askinosiechocolate.com)
2. The Grenada Chocolate Company: Founded in 1999 by Mott Green, Doug Brown, and Edmond Browne as a cooperatively-owned chocolate company, Grenada Chocolate is one of the world’s most equitable and sustainable makers; much of the processing equipment runs on solar power. Described as “tree to bar” chocolate by its makers, chocolate is made right in the middle of a cacao plantation from Ceres-certified organic Trinitario beans. The cocoa butter used is made right on premises and the sugar and vanilla are Fair Trade certified. For the dark chocolate purist, you can go low (with a 60%) or all the way up (with 100%). (www.grenadachocolate.com )
3. Madécasse: This environmentally conscious company sources beans only from the Red Island (Madagascar). Their business model is the “beyond-fair-trade” model known as Direct Trade where makers have contracts directly with cacao farmers assuring them a particular price for their harvest. Madécasse also helps farmers with construction costs of fermentation and drying equipment thus becoming active partners with their farmers. The Company features a full line of plain origin chocolate and bars with inclusions like coffee beans, almonds or coconut. (www.madécasse.com)
4. Rescue Chocolate: Founded in 2010 by Sarah Gross after she adopted a pitbull rescue, this Brooklyn-based vegan and Kosher chocolate company is devoted to helping large and small animals in need. Each chocolate is catchily named (Mission Feral Fig, Peanut Butter Pitbull, Fakin’ Bacon) and each year, an organization is selected as that year’s beneficiary. Popular for fundraising efforts and even wedding favors, Rescue Chocolate helps bring attention to the needs of unwanted pets. ( www.rescuechocolate.com )
5. Taza: Best known for their Mexican-style, coarse-ground disks, Massachusetts-based Taza has recently introduced an 84% dark bar from Haiti. Partnering directly with cacao farmers in the highlands there, Taza is the first US chocolate maker to source Certified USDA Organic cacao from Haiti through its groundbreaking Direct Trade program. With notes of dried fig, sour cherry, and roasted nuts, this bar introduces chocolate lovers to a new origin and at the same time helps rebuild Haiti’s agricultural sector. ( www.taza.com )
6. Tony’s Chocolonely: Founded in 2005 and headquartered in The Netherlands, Tony’s Chocolonely seeks to bring attention to the problem of child labour/slavery in cacao plantations in West Africa. The company’s motto is “Crazy about chocolate. Serious about People. To that end, the company (now with offices in Portland) is committed to producing entirely slave-free chocolate bars. This Valentine’s day, their Valentoney bar is made from extra fine dark chocolate, meringue from free range eggs, and pieces of dried cherry. ( www.tonyschocolonely.com )
7. Tumbador Chocolate: This Brooklyn-based company headed up by pastry chef Jean-Francois Bonnet has truly changed the lives of a few of its employees through partnerships with Strive and The Fortune Society. Offering the formerly incarcerated meaningful work and a chance to start over is the ultimate sweet gift. Here you’ll find handmade S’mores, Ring Ding-like cakes in devils’ food or red velvet, and an almost dizzying array of superbly crafted bon bons including The 7 Deadly Sins Collection for Valentine’s Day. ( www.tumbadorchocolate.com )