A 100 year old family recipe book inspired the birth of Animas Chocolate Company

Founded in 2011, Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company is run by husband-and-wife team Marc and Carley Snider. The inspiration to open a chocolate business came from an old (around 100 years old or more) family recipe book that Carley had found along the Animas River which contained a lot of chocolate recipes.

An avid baker and extreme lover of chocolate, Carley was looking for a new business to start. All of their products are named after elements found along the Animas River corridor. Their chocolate company tagline, “Lose your soul to chocolate”, is derived from the proper name of Animas River or Rio de las Animas Perdidas which translates as The River of Lost Souls.

Animas Chocolate & Coffee Company was started as a one-woman operation, operating out of a small rented corner of a commercial kitchen space. For the first 3 years, Carley made only chocolate confections using Belgian couverture for all her baking needs.

Marc and Carley started making bean-to-bar chocolate in 2014, with Marc as head chocolate maker and Carley as head chocolatier. They had long wanted to make their own chocolate, and by sheer luck, one of the owners of Dandelion Chocolate, who has relatives in Durango, visited their café. They shared with Carley and Marc about the chocolate-making basics including where to get their equipment as during that time, it was pretty difficult to source for small-scale equipment.

From there, Marc and Carley started experimenting with chocolate and reading up on chocolate making as much as they could. Both of them have completed several courses through Ecole Chocolate, which was a great resource, but beyond that, they were self-taught.

When we asked Marc to tell us more about their chocolate-making process, he elucidated, “We have been pretty lucky and haven’t had any epic failures. Obviously, we get better with each batch, but overall, everything has turned out pretty well. We had the usual fiascos of over-pushing the melangeur and seizing it up, spinning chocolate all over the place, but hopefully, those days are mostly behind us.

“We conduct weekly tastings with our staff. We try our chocolates, other people’s chocolates, comparing and contrasting the two in greater detail. It doesn’t matter about the origin, technique, process, creativity, etc. if the chocolate doesn’t taste good.

“We source for high-quality ingredients and are extremely precise with the tempering process. We strive to maintain a consistent methodology in our process so that the only difference people taste is the inherent taste of the cacao. Our Highline bars are all made using the same exact process (roasting, grinding, conching, etc.) so the only difference in the final bars is the natural flavor notes that each bean/region brings.”

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