Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Cultura Chocolate
Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Denver, Colorado
Website: Cultura Chocolate
Date Established: 2016
Ingredients Used: 2 – Cocoa Cacao, Organic Cane Sugar
Allergy Information: Created in a facility that uses milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts
A bean-to-bar chocolate-making company based in Denver, Cultura Craft Chocolate is a collaborative effort between two chocolate makers who have a passion for creating amazing chocolate with greater transparency and accessibility. The formation of Cultura began in 2016 when Matt Armstrong, co-founder of Mutari Chocolate, sold his business and teamed up with Damaris Graves at Cultura’s predecessor Dead Dog Chocolate.
In an effort to combine their unique experiences and evolution with cacao and the chocolate industry, they sought to create a new brand that stayed true to their values and history. Their shared values of always being curious, never compromising, pushing boundaries, and having fun are reflected in every aspect of Cultura – from the name to the packaging and the origins they source their beans from, to how they make their chocolate and share their story. With over 6 years of combined experience in the chocolate industry, Damaris and Matt are thrilled to be sharing their journeys with the chocolate community and beyond.
Chocolate has been a part of Damaris’ story in some form or another for most of her life. When she was a kid, she would visit her grandparents in Mexico where her grandma made the best champurrado (chocolate atole) and mole sauce in town. It was dishes like these that made Damaris passionate about food and cooking. After graduating from Tufts University in 2009, Damaris decided to pursue her passion of cooking by working in some of the best restaurants in Boston and Denver. During her time as a pastry chef, she developed an appreciation for the use of chocolate and its many applications. Wanting to learn more about the history of chocolate and how chocolate was made, Damaris began her own chocolate-making company, Dead Dog Chocolate. During this time, she focused on making chocolates inspired by ingredients and techniques used in Mexico. While still holding on to many of the values that drove her to start Dead Dog Chocolate, she is excited for her next chapter in the chocolate world as owner of Cultura Craft Chocolate.
Matt’s chocolate story began when he visited his brother Adam in Panama in 2010. His brother was a Peace Corps volunteer working with the Ngobe tribe to harvest cacao. He later spent time in Hawaii where he taught organic farming as a form of therapeutic treatment for struggling youth. During this time, he learned more about cacao and chocolate. After leaving Hawaii, he opened a chocolate shop with Adam which focused on “bean-to-bottle” sipping chocolates. After selling his company at the end of 2015, Matt joined the Dead Dog Chocolate team as head chocolate maker. In the spring of 2016, Matt visited cacao farms in Guatemala and Belize where he learned more about the farming and fermentation process.
In spring next year, Damaris and Matt plan to visit cacao farms in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where they source the rest of their cacao from, to learn more about the farming practices.