In order to appreciate the full flavor of dark chocolate, you should not chew it, but let it slowly dissolve on your tongue. This is just one of the useful facts about the creation and enjoyment of chocolate brought to our members by Chocolate Ambassador Aaron Lindstrom at our Evening with Theo Chocolate on February 5th.
Theo Chocolate is one of Seattle’s most recognizable and beloved chocolate companies. Based in their red brick factory in Fremont, Theo was the first company to create organic chocolate in the US. Aaron has been with Theo for several years, making chocolate, creating their current factory tour and doing events like ours for a multitude of groups. In fact, our event was the fifth he did that day!
Theo acts on the belief that “chocolate can be made in a way that allows everyone in the bean to bar process to thrive,” and it shows in how they source their chocolate. Aaron explained that almost 90% of their chocolate comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where Theo helped to launch cocoa farming in 2010. In fact, Theo used to buy 100% of the DRC cocoa crop. They were followed by several other small chocolate companies, which led to the expansion of cocoa farming, and Theo’s share dropped to 40% of the crop. Working in the DRC allows Theo to avoid child labor and other abuses that are common in cocoa farming in the Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, and allows them to be part of the regeneration of what has been one of the poorest and most war-torn regions of the world.
Theo is certified Fair Trade and typically pays three times the market rate for their cocoa, allowing farmers to bring better education and health care to their communities. In addition, Theo helps farmers use methods that improve the quality of their cocoa, allowing them to get an even better price.
But, of course, learning about how and where the cocoa was grown wasn’t the only reason people came to this event. They also wanted to taste some high-quality chocolate! And Aaron came through on that account. Participants tasted many Theo varieties, from the above-mentioned dark chocolate to novelties like Root Beer Barrel Chocolate and confections like White Chocolate Hearts with Raspberry and Honeycomb. Aaron explained how the different terroirs affect the flavor of the chocolate, and how Theo uses small amounts of sour chocolate from Peru to balance the nuttier variety from the DRC. Everyone got all the chocolate they could handle, although Aaron mentioned that he had already had three bars that day!
Participants were very enthusiastic and asked many questions, leading to a lively discussion about topics like the health benefits of chocolate. In fact, there were so many questions that Aaron didn’t even get to the second half of his slide presentation! No one seemed to mind, least of all Aaron, who said he loves to discuss all aspects of chocolate.
Central Co-op’s Evening with… events are the results of feedback from members stating that they wanted more opportunities to meet and learn about our Washington suppliers. All events are free and open to members only. Our next vendor event is an Evening with Bainbridge Vineyards, March 19. RSVP now because space is limited!
Date: Friday February 22, 2019
Category: Producer Stories
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