The Hello Cocoa Team shares their passion for making craft chocolate
When Lauren & Mark Blanco, Preston & Abby Stewart, and Abby & Charles Davidson started Hello Cocoa, they decided they didn’t just want to make chocolate. They wanted to connect people with flavors and cultures from around the world. Through ethical and direct trade, they strive to create relationships with farmer partners and produce excellent chocolate. In their small-batch factory in Fayetteville, Arkansas, they transform chosen beans into handcrafted chocolate bars that allow one to share in the adventure. Charles had the original idea to start a chocolate company, and perfected the bean-to-bar process for a year before Hello Cocoa was formed. When the Stewarts and the Blancos partnered with the Davidsons, everyone had a piece of the chocolate vision that became Hello Cocoa.
Charles launched the chocolate-making process and inspired the rest of the co-founders to create a quality product. Charles' international interest drove the culinary exploration, and now they're making bean-to-bar chocolate. Preston was a close friend of Charles' and was really interested in becoming a chocolate maker when it all started. Preston has a background in chemistry and was passionate about creating quality chocolate, experimenting with flavors and had the goal of ultimately becoming a real chocolate maker.
Hello Cocoa’s goal is to develop great relationships with the locals as well as with people all over the world. They currently source ethically and sustainably-traded beans as well as some organic beans from a distributor in the United States. As they grow, they will begin to directly source more and more beans from small farmers in unique locations around the world. They are passionate about travel and meeting people, two essentials which form the foundation of the Hello Cocoa experience and were the original inspirations of the company. Says Lauren: “We want to introduce our fans and chocolate-lovers to friends, lifestyles, cultures and landscapes around the world. And it all starts with a simple greeting, hello.”
Chocolate maker Charles also adds: “When we thought up the name for this company, the words "Hello Cocoa" came together as a desire to greet people with a warm smile and a gift. We think a simple chocolate bar can be the start to a conversation, joy for the taste buds, a treat to your wine with friends, or a shared experience of worldly adventure right in your hand. Our goal has been to say hello from all around the world in the form of a chocolate bar. We take joy in meeting people across the world and in sharing something good with one another!”
The most difficult challenge yet for Hello Cocoa has been learning how to juggle all the tasks of running a company. Despite having six owners, none of them have been able (up to this point) to go full time. It has truly been an amazing learning experience thus far for all of them in their various roles in the company.
* Photo from left to right: Lauren & Mark Blanco, Preston & Abby Stewart, Abby & Charles Davidson