Cococlectic: A Craft Bean-to-Bar Club

delicious & delectable varieties
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Joanne and Dan Sundell of Dark Forest Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on November 07, 2017. 0 Comments

Dark Forest Chocolate Makers, Inc. was born out of the quest for the best chocolate. After searching their local area for pure, high-quality chocolate with limited success, Joanne and Dan Sundell began ordering bars from pioneers in the small-batch craft chocolate industry. Inspired and intrigued, the Sundells researched the many facets of cacao—from its health benefits and complexity of flavors to its growers and fermenters.


Dan purchased some small equipment and made test batches at home, while Joanne studied chocolate confections in the culinary program at the local community college. Their initial product was very good—a luscious, complex food that was made with minimal ingredients. They could vary the results by altering the many components that goes into chocolate making – botanical variety of the cacao, length of roasting and stone grinding, as well as ratio of cacao to sugar.


“It seems that chocolate makers...

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Ethereal Confections

Posted by Coleen L on September 11, 2017. 0 Comments

Ethereal Confections is a small business in Woodstock, Illinois, that is centered on reconnecting people with food. Owners Mary and Sara Miller labor over each individual detail and constantly strive to improve their craft. They envision and then taste, tweak and package everything by hand – no big machines or industrial factories for them. They are committed to using organic ingredients and creating amazing flavors without using any preservatives.


The joy of creating inspires both Mary and Sara. Their customers inspire them plenty. They create everything they serve from scratch so that they can perfect and hone their recipes into something people will love. From their bean-to-bar chocolate to gluten-free pastries and desserts, all the way to the syrups they put into their lattes, everything is created with verve. They have surrounded themselves with people in their business who love their creations as much as they...

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Andrew Starr, owner of Nova Chocolate.

Posted by Coleen L on May 09, 2017. 0 Comments

Andrew Starr, owner of Nova Chocolate, has worked in the chocolate world for over two decades, starting as a passionate hobbyist while working in the music industry. Starr founded his first company in 2011 which focused on European-style confections and truffles.

In 2012, Starr expanded his repertoire into the bean-to-bar universe as Head Chocolatier at Nova Monda Cacao & Chocolate. Starr quickly developed a deep admiration for the company’s mission, sourcing, and products. He purchased Nova Monda in 2014, renaming it Nova Chocolate. As owner, Starr has strengthened and expanded a cacao sourcing strategy known as Regenerative Cacao, while continuing to make the chocolate bars, truffles, and ganache that he fell in love with.

Regenerative Cacao, which elevates the standards of sustainability, farm biodiversity, and direct trade, is at the core of Nova Chocolate’s sourcing approach. Regenerative Cacao goes beyond fair trade by keeping value-added production close to where the...

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Martin Rhyne and Jon Spurgeon of Tuanis Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on May 04, 2017. 0 Comments

Tuanis Chocolate was founded by friends Martin Rhyne and Jon Spurgeon in 2015. The two have frequented Costa Rica together and with friends for some 15 years, and in 2014, decided to look into bringing cacao back to the US. They realized that the quality of the cacao in Costa Rica was "too nice", but very hard to find in the US. As Jon pursued his MBA and Martin established a relationship with farmers in the Limon region, their vision to bring some of the "pura vida" lifestyle back to the US in the form of the finest chocolate slowly materialized.

Tuanis Chocolate was founded on the idea that quality at the source is unmatched, and needs no additives, false advertising, or bad business practice to bring it to retail markets to be enjoyed by customers, and for the business to be successful. Tuanis’ name is derived...

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Monica and Tom Rogan, owners of Goodnow Farms Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on April 13, 2017. 0 Comments

Monica and Tom Rogan first discovered craft chocolate in, of all places, a vintage furniture store in Los Angeles. The incredible flavors they tasted in those bars completely changed the way they thought about chocolate, and that started them on their journey to becoming single origin chocolate makers.


They spent the next several years learning everything they could about chocolate, making small batches in their home kitchen, and sharing it with fellow chocolate lovers. Their passion for the craft, and their belief that cacao sourcing should be done in a socially responsible way inspired them to found Goodnow Farms Chocolate in 2015.


Since then, they've dedicated themselves to not only making great chocolate, but also building sustainable and equitable relationships with the farmers and producers from whom they source their cacao. Their search for great tasting cacao has led them all over Central America and...

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Carol Morse of Acalli Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on March 15, 2017. 0 Comments

Carol Morse, owner and chocolate maker of Acalli Chocolate, began making chocolate after a 2013 visit to Guatemala, where her archaeologist husband works during the summers. While there, she met cacao growers in nearby Belize, and local chocolate makers. The experience inspired her to buy small-scale equipment to make chocolate at home. She has no formal culinary training but she learned and mastered her chocolate-making process with the help of Chocolate Alchemy and Chocolate Life.


With a background in anthropology and economic development, Carol was especially drawn to the people side of chocolate making, and a 2014 visit to the Norandino Cooperative in Peru was a chance to talk with cacao growers about their cultivation and fermentation techniques, and develop a cacao sourcing relationship. Visiting cacao growers in person and sourcing the sugar in her smaller bars locally have been opportunities to deepen ties...

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Ranger Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on February 09, 2017. 0 Comments

Four friends – Rhonda, Patrick, George and David – set out in 2014 to embrace their love of food and find a craft they could share together. The result was Ranger Chocolate. After many explorations and experiments, they became fascinated with cacao and quickly realized that most people have no idea what one of the world's most beloved foods really tastes like.
During their trip to Peru, they traveled through the jungle, over mountains and across water to find beans to create their first chocolate bars. First and foremost, their goal was to make a connection with the farmers and they thought if they liked the bean in its raw state, it would make a good chocolate bar. As foodies living in the foodie city of Portland, Oregon, they were also insistent on using organic beans. After trying hundreds of beans, they chose...
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Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on January 23, 2017. 0 Comments


About the Chocolate Maker:
We asked Hans of Violet Sky Chocolate to tell us about himself and this is what he had to say:

"I am Hans Westerink, I make chocolate in South Bend, IN. I started making chocolate three years ago because I love real flavors, and I wanted to show people what real chocolate can taste like. It took a year of learning at home, with help from Chocolate Alchemy, to get started. Opening people's eyes to the uniqueness of flavor as well as building connections in local and global communities are the favorite parts of my job.

Chocolate should not be a commodity and it does not all taste the same. Chocolate is very common, but most of what exists is boring and over processed. Our entire food culture has become a disconnected thing. No...

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Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier of Mutari Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on November 07, 2016. 0 Comments


Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier of Mutari Chocolate are folks who love food, and came to love and appreciate cacao as a singular ingredient. Hailing from the hospitality industry, they found cacao to be the most challenging ingredient they have ever used. They have been grinding it out in some of the country's and world’s best kitchens, and helping to form food movements that have transformed and shaped the way they look at how food is grown and produced in this country.


Stephen, the chocolate maker, has no formal training; just an unending quest for unattainable perfection through repetition and dedication to his craft. He taught himself, through trial and error, how to make chocolate. He would constantly reach out to his culinary community for feedback. Stephen and Katy are determined to treat the cacao farmers with respect and integrity while helping them become sustainable...

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Sarah and Colin Hartman of Harper Macaw Chocolate

Posted by Coleen L on October 11, 2016. 0 Comments

Sarah and Colin Hartman came from very different paths. Sarah grew up in Brazil, one of the world’s largest cacao producing nations, and after joining the culinary industry, spent time at both Valrhona and Dandelion Chocolate. Colin served as U.S. Marine officer before jumping into the start-up world and ultimately, getting an MBA. It was in grad school where their vision for Harper Macaw was born. The couple founded Harper Macaw on an ambitious, yet, tangible objective – to turn chocolate into a force for tropical reforestation. They discovered a strong link between the quality of cacao and local rainforest health as well as the potential for cacao agroforestry and private reserves to facilitate large-scale tropical reforestation. Their brand name represents the Harpy Eagle and Hyacinth Macaw, two symbolic endangered species of Brazil’s Atlantic and Amazon rainforests.


Harper Macaw currently sources their cacao directly from select...

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