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Bean-to-Bar Company Begins from Fateful Trip to Oaxaca
By Amanda Hoelzeman
My first experience with Taza Chocolate was so monumental I still remember it in detail. About five years ago, while browsing the array of artisan products at a local bakery, I spied a rustic looking, paper-wrapped disc emblazoned with the words Chocolate Mexicano. Intrigued, I picked it up, and like I often do with new, bizarre things, I smelled it.
One whiff of the aromatic stone-ground chocolate within was all it took to hook me. I purchased that disc – I believe it was the Cacao Puro flavor – and savored it with one of my favorite co-workers. She and I marveled at the bright, bold flavor of the chocolate, enhanced by a unique crispness and texture that was unlike any we’d ever experienced. This chocolate was powdery, almost gritty, but in the most delicious way. Each grain seemed to burst with intense, complex flavors that ran the gamut from coffee to fruits and nuts.
After further research I learned what I was experiencing was a stone ground, organic dark chocolate created in the Mexican tradition with hand-carved granite millstones.
It was just the type of chocolate that Taza co-founder Alex Whitmore fell in love with when he traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, years earlier. So inspired was he by the stone-ground chocolate in Mexico, Whitmore learned how to hand-carve granite millstones and returned to the U.S. to start a chocolate factory dedicated to crafting artisan, bean-to-bar, Mexican-style chocolate.
Today, from his Somerville, Mass., factory, Whitmore and his team churn out the chocolate discs, as well as nibs, chocolate covered treats, bars and Tazito Minibars, like the Crispy Crunch featured in the October 2013 Treatsie sample box. All of his products are made from high-quality ingredients that create a “bold, knock-your-face-off chocolate experience.”
There’s more goodness to the story, too. Through the Direct Trade Certified Cacao program, Whitmore and his Taza Chocolate team are committed to cultivating face-to-face relationships with farmers in Mexico. By doing this, Taza is able to source the highest quality cacao possible, while paying their farmers above the Fair Trade price. The company is also committed to using sustainable practices to minimize its negative impact on the environment. That’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.
Learn more about Taza Chocolate, its products and its mission at www.TazaChocolate.com.