Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Black Sheep Chocolate
Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Bend, OR
Chocolate Maker: Tom Seeley and Cecilia Marques
Website: Black Sheep Chocolate
Date Established: March 2019
Ingredients Used: 3 - Cacao Beans, Organic Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter
Current Chocolate Production Output: 500 bars/month for all the origins
Allergen Information: Made in a facility that processes nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs, coconut, soy
Ten years ago, Cecilia and Tom of Black Sheep Chocolate started following biohackers (DIY biology) and integrative medicine doctors to find answers for their health quests. They wanted to live healthier lives and they wanted to include chocolate in their diet because of the health benefits that came with it. They would initially purchase dark chocolate bars from the store, but eventually started making their own because they wanted better flavor, texture, and higher cacao content.
Along this road to find balance in the relationship between food, health and happiness, the curiosity for the chocolate-making process emerged from Cecilia and Tom's love for dark chocolate. Experimenting with chocolate in their home kitchen over the years and sharing with family and friends helped them to learn, understand and respect the chocolate-making journey that started with nature, cacao trees, farmers, harvest, fermentation and drying process.
The book, Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate, by Pam Williams and Jim Eber opened Cecilia and Tom's eyes to what it meant to be a small-batch chocolate maker, paying attention to genetics, farming and production, and the future of cacao in the world. The amazing process of transforming the cacao bean into a flavorful chocolate bar gave them the passion and courage to start their own small-batch chocolate company, Black Sheep Chocolate.
Tom and Cecilia had the privilege of learning from Chloe Doutre Roussel, one of the world's top chocolatiers, and Maria Fernanda Giacobbe, a Venezuelan chocolatier. Whenever possible, Tom and Cecilia would visit chocolate makers all over the world to learn what these individuals were doing and put what they had gleaned into perspective.
One of Tom and Cecilia’s fondest memories is making chocolate from scratch in their little kitchen in Washington, Missouri. They were using all DIY machines to transform cacao beans into flavorful chocolate bars. As Tom formally worked in the food industry as a technician who traveled the country and abroad giving machinery technical support to businesses, building DIY chocolate-making machines was second nature to him.
Cecilia thought their first bar of chocolate was "funny". "We thought it was great, but not really. It was gritty and the flavor was not well developed," Cecilia added.