Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Nova Chocolate & Tuanis Chocolate

Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Nova Chocolate & Tuanis Chocolate

Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Lafayette, CO
Website: Nova Chocolate
Date Established: 2011
Ingredients Used: 2 - Cocoa beans, Organic Cane Sugar
Allergy Information: Processed in a facility that processes nuts

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 cacao is grown. This provides a living wage for the cacao producers, lowers shipping costs for the end customer, and, most importantly, makes a more delicious chocolate. Nova works directly with cacao farms that can go beyond the traditional “ferment/dry and export” sequence to include roasting, winnowing, grinding, and tempering facilities. This allows the farmers to transcend the “cash crop” model and instead, take a larger role in production to build their communities.

Once the cacao arrives in Colorado, Nova adheres to a mission of simplicity in both ingredients and production. Organic cane sugar is the only added ingredient in its chocolate bars and stone conching is done carefully with a close eye on developing a texture and flavor that celebrates the cacao and can be enjoyed by anyone.


Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Chicago, IL [manufacturing in Indiana]
Website: Tuanis Chocolate
Date Established: 2015
Ingredients Used: 3 - Organic Cacao Bean, Organic Sugar, Organic Cacao Butter
Allergy Information: Manufactured in a soy-free facility; dairy free, vegan, gluten free, soy free; manufactured in a facility that may process peanuts and tree nuts

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 from a Costa Rican slang that is a play on the phrase "too nice". It is a positive salutation similar to “pura vida”, and is used among Costa Ricans in the same manner as to how "aloha" is used in Hawaii.

Tuanis Chocolate buys beans directly from the farmers, and pays them a large premium for their fine cacao beans. The farmers work with the Center for Agricultural Tropical Research which provides them with the educational and farming tools needed to optimize their harvest – from methodology to improved cacao genetics and capital resourcing. This promotes the well-being and sustainability of the farmers, their families and their livelihood.

Currently, neither Jon nor Martin are chocolate makers. They contract their bean-to-bar manufacturing through Davis Chocolate in Indiana. Davis Chocolate is a bean-to-bar facility that is entirely soy free, and focuses on organic and fair trade products. Their plan is to scale up and take over manufacturing in the next two to three years, after reaching targeted benchmark growth. In the meantime, they have utilized Davis Chocolate's manufacturing process, as it aligns completely with Tuanis' vision of providing quality chocolate products that are organic, fair trade, and soy free.