The Three Reasons We Started a Chocolate Company
Talk to anyone involved in craft chocolate and you’ll learn…
They’re not in it for the money.
The equipment is expensive. The logistics are complicated. And once you figure those things out, customers are sparse…
The general population doesn’t appreciate fine-flavor chocolate, yet. They don’t understand why craft chocolate rightfully costs so much more than commercial “candy” chocolates (which usually have very little, low-quality cacao).
It adds up to a business that – if you can carve out a niche for yourself – isn’t especially profitable.
So why are hundreds of craft chocolate companies popping up around the world? Why are they doing it?
We’ve talked to lots of other chocolate makers. And we’ve heard a lot of reasons (many of which we share). But we’ll only speak for ourselves, here…
Aside from how we actually started The Latest Batch, we’re building a chocolate company for three main reasons.
1) THE CHOCOLATE IS SENSATIONAL
Craft chocolate is special. It’s a gourmet food that takes experience and skill to make. And it requires hard-to-find, hard-to-import ingredients. Most notably, fine-flavor cacao.
Most of the cacao grown around the world doesn’t taste all that great. It doesn’t need to, because the chocolate it’s used in is loaded with ingredients that mask its flavors…
Was the cacao under-fermented, giving it a green, bitter taste? Did it sit out for too long and get rained on during the drying process, giving it a mildewy taste? Or maybe the chocolate maker over-roasted it, making it taste like burnt coffee?
No matter. Just add a LOT of sugar, some milk powder, a dash of fake vanilla, and voila… You can barely taste those off flavors.
We take a different approach to chocolate…
- We do our best to honor the few ingredients we use (very few and ones you can pronounce).
- We source the finest cacao and cane sugar we can find.
- We get to know the growers and their processes.
- And we sample the cacao before we decide to buy.
Our chocolate maker Jay is a longtime therapeutic chef, dedicated to using food as medicine. He’s been making chocolate for nearly a decade. And he’s a chocolate-making superstar.
Jay loves making chocolate. He would never compromise our product with inferior beans or ingredients. It shows through the incredible taste of our final product.
Our love of chocolate is number one for us.
(We should note, there are at least a dozen other chocolate-making superstars out there. They honor the ingredients. And their chocolate blows our minds, too.)
2) THE PEOPLE. THE PLANET.
Everybody wants to feel like they’re doing something good for the world. We’re no different.
Here’s what we do aside from make and sell chocolate…
- We support cacao growers in Costa Rica. They work hard to grow high-quality cacao… And we pay premium prices for that cacao. Without us as customers, they might have to sell at the far-lower, commodity price of cacao. Or they might have to stop growing cacao entirely, even though they’ve done it for decades.
- We support positive environmental practices on the farm. Most crops, including cacao, are typically grown on plantations. Rows and rows of a single crop, which depletes the soil and damages the ecosystem. This is monoculture… traditional agriculture.
- We buy cacao from farmers who use agroforestry. They grow all kinds of different trees and crops that are native to the region. This supports wildlife, enriches the soil, and sequesters carbon. Plus, it makes for better tasting cacao. (Cacao trees love growing in the shade, which plantations don’t provide.)
We have big goals, too. As we grow, we plan to invest in the communities where our cacao grows. Costa Rica is a poor country. And everyone can use a little help. We’ll buy books, air conditioners for schools, create education programs, invest in cacao processing facilities… whatever we can do.
And once Sail Cargo finishes building their ship, we’ll use their carbon-negative marine freight solution to transport our cacao from Costa Rica to the U.S.
We believe we’re making a positive impact on the world. And we want to do more of it. It makes us feel good.
3) TO SPREAD THE WORD
Craft chocolate is such a wonderful, complex food… Yet only a small group of hardcore chocolate lovers knows it exists. Those of us “in the know,” also know that unless we spread the word, it may not exist for long.
As we touched on above, fine-flavor cacao trees like to grow in the shade. These varieties are finicky and prone to devastating diseases. They don’t produce as much cacao as less flavorful cacao hybrids, which were bred for mass production in harsh growing conditions.
Already, farmers around the world have torn up lots of fine-flavor cacao trees and replaced them with the hardier, higher-yielding hybrids… because for the most part, cacao buyers pay for quantity and the quality doesn’t matter.
Everyone who loves craft chocolate (including us) is trying to change that trend. But it’s not easy…
We all grew up with the sugary candy called “chocolate.” We have fond memories of it – trick-or-treating, Cadbury eggs, older siblings’ bribes…
It’s a major mental leap to get from those cheap candies (with the personal history) to a fine-flavor dark chocolate bar that costs $8 to $14. They’re two different food items entirely… But they’re both called “chocolate.”
We’re four partners at the Latest Batch. Lance, John, Ben, and Jay. Lance works in marketing. John and I (Ben) work in publishing. And Jay is a Chocolate Ambassador…
In his role as a Chocolate Ambassador, Jay’s personal goal is to improve all aspects of the industry. That includes promoting regenerative agricultural practices, fair pay for farmers, better modes of transporting cacao, chocolate quality standards that makers and customers understand, and the list goes on.
With Jay’s industry expertise, Lance’s marketing know-how, John’s ever-growing network, and my writing and publishing experience, we believe we’re uniquely positioned to spread the word about craft chocolate.
Craft chocolate is just starting to get a foothold. It seems people are starting to care more about where their food comes from… and what went into making it.
We love craft chocolate. And lots of craft chocolate makers are making the world a better place. We want that to continue. But for it to continue, for farmers to continue putting in the extra work to grow unique and flavorful varieties of cacao, we need consumers to be on board.
We need consumers to see craft chocolate for what it is – a delicious gourmet food worth preserving, enjoying, and paying a reasonable price for.
So that’s the third reason we started The Latest Batch – to help educate consumers and spread the word.
If you share our values, we’d love your support.
Jay, John, Lance and Ben – The Latest Batch Team