With backgrounds in biology and chemistry, coffee roasting, cafés and restaurants, we take the slow food and locavore movements to heart. The history of the Green Mountains and Connecticut River valley and the farms, forests and people are a constant inspiration to us. We are most excited when we come up with recipes that evoke the flavors, sights and textures of walking along a forest trail, into a field or through an orchard. Believing that chocolate is a versatile ingredient that can be used in recipes that go beyond traditional confectionery, we prefer savory flavors and are most inspired by regional chefs and their cuisine, which often leads us to unusual (yet delicious) combinations and flavor profiles.
Sourcing our couverture from fairly traded makers, we use single-origin chocolate or blends from specific regions that offer singular taste profiles. We traveled to Costa Rica to visit coffee farms while John was working as the head roaster for a thriving Vermont café, and know that the intricacies of fair trade, direct trade, farmer direct and big business commodities is not an easy story to share. Getting fair trade chocolate doesn’t guarantee quality (typically batches are mixed from multiple sources which can include both great and mediocre crops, and although a certain price is paid to the farmer, how much of that is passed on to the workers, usually migrants, can be debated). But we go out of our way to use cooperatives (our primary source is a Venezuelan owned and run cooperative) and fair trade and/or fairly traded chocolates that address many of our areas of concern, from makers who source their couverture from single origins in South America. Several of these are top-rated chocolates, including a Venezuelan white chocolate that has won the International Chocolate Award for 5 years running. And overall, each chocolate that we use has been carefully chosen both for quality and how it will match with the various ingredients we’re going to pair it with. We’re constantly testing and tasting chocolates, and are always on the lookout for new producers that will work with what we’re trying to do. We eventually want to make our own chocolate bean to bar and source our cacao directly from farmers, and we’ll keeping working on getting there.
We partner with nearby producers and growers to pair our chocolates with regional ingredients that include Vermont chévre and créme fraîche, Thomas Dairy and Butterworks Farm buttermilk and cream, maple from local producers, Atlantic sea salt harvested off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and honey, seasonal fruits, mushrooms and herbs from local farmers and foragers as well as from our own garden during the summertime. We use Vermont butter and butter from Cabot Creamery, a cooperative that began in Vermont and now sources dairy from farms in New England and in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York state where Dar grew up. Explore more about the ingredient partnerships we are forging here.
To reduce our footprint, we don’t use plastic packaging or dividers. Our kraft boxes are recyclable and use 100% recycled boxboard and 100% recycled papers, and our cellophane bags are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Our paper box bands and bag tags are recyclable. We compost or recycle our food and paper waste.
Our chocolates are now stocked in shops throughout New England and New York, travel all over the United States via our online shop, and are carried with customers who visit our Factory Shop as far away as Turkey, Kenya, Switzerland, Chile, Mexico, Denmark, Holland, Germany and Japan.
All of this is great. At the same time, it’s important to us to remain a place-based business, rooted in the local farm community and providing the best that southern Vermont produces to a wider audience that appreciates delicious, singular ingredients of superior quality. We’ll continue to work with local farmers and producers to come up with fresh, innovative taste pairings, as well as create chocolates we’re proud to have our name on.
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