Hello sticklers for GFM!
Happy Monday per usual, hope you enjoyed a most glorious weekend. We spent our Sunday roaming endlessly through the neighborhood, tanning at Transmitter Park, munching at Paulie Gees, indulging at Van Leeuwen’s ice cream shop, buying one too many books at WORD, and trying on that pretty dress at Dalaga. It’s a gloomy Monday but nothing like gettin’ you chipper with chocolate, stone ground badass chocolate, that is.
Meet Taza Chocolate. They’ve been with us since the beginning and we love them for that. And because their Guajillo Chili Mexicano is orgasmic.
What is Taza Chocolate?
Taza is a small bean-to-bar chocolate maker, and the only producer in the US of 100% stone ground, organic chocolate. We roast, winnow, grind, temper, and mold our chocolate in house and by hand. We use organic and sustainable ingredients to craft our chocolate. Our mission is to craft the highest quality premium stone ground chocolate in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
How did the inspiration for its creation come about?
Back in 2006, Taza Chocolate was born out of a desire to combine the Mesoamerican tradition of chocolate with a modern, high-quality product manufactured in a socially responsible way.
In 2005, our cofounder Alex Whitmore traveled to Oaxaca to steep himself in the history and culture of Mexico. He learned about the pre-Columbian cacao rituals in Latin America, and the customs that surrounded the transformation of cacao into a drink. Having grown up eating European-style chocolate candy, Alex was surprised and inspired by the simplicity of the Oaxacan treatment of chocolate. He was really compelled by the minimal processing and traditional method of stone grinding the beans… so much so that he was moved to start a business dedicated to crafting artisan, Mexican-style chocolate in the United States.
Alex and cofounder Larry Slotnick, who worked together at Zipcar before starting Taza, decided early on that they wanted to start a company with a conscience. Taza Chocolate would be sustainable – not just financially but environmentally, and community-focused. After considering models in use in the coffee field and analyzing the current state of the chocolate industry, Alex and Larry set to work on a business plan. Their company, Taza Chocolate, would produce 100% stone ground, organic chocolate using only the best ingredients while compensating growers fairly for their work.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Taza’s cacao comes from a small cooperative in the Dominican Republic with a hearty and diverse tree stock called La Red Guacanejo. Our sugar is sourced from an innovative company in Brazil called the Green Cane Project. Aside from making remarkable organic cane sugar, they process the spent cane fiber to power their factory and the nearby town. We use true cinnamon (not cassia) and whole vanilla pods, both organic and biodynamically grown, from a tiny plantation in Costa Rica called Villa Vanilla. The same care and passion goes into the sourcing of all our ingredients. We cultivate direct relationships with our growers, to bring us the highest quality ingredients while ensuring fair wages and work practices on the farm.
How is it made? Care to share a recipe?
Our chocolate making process is unique. Taza chocolate is stone ground and minimally processed, and we don’t conch. We use authentic Oaxacan stone mills instead of steel refiners to grind our cacao. We hand-chisel each millstone with a pattern specifically designed for grinding chocolate. Since the surface of the stone is slightly uneven, bits of cacao and sugar remain in the finished chocolate. These bits pop with explosive flavor, and give our bars their distinctive rustic texture.
I don’t think most people have a stone mill, so a recipe probably won’t help. But there are lots of recipes on our website.
Suggestions on how to consume this beauteous product? What does it go well with? What should we NOT eat it with?
Unwrap the bars and eat them! Joking aside, excellent chocolate goes with just about everything. Eat it on its own, feature it on a dessert platter with beautiful artisanal cheeses and fruits, bake delectable brownies with it, or use it in savory dishes like molé or chili. And of course, our Mexicanos make delicious chocolate drinks, both hot and iced. Our Roasted Cacao Nibs are a way to get a chocolate fix that isn’t sweet, and are incredibly versatile. Stir them into yogurt, sprinkle them on salads, use them to crust a steak or pork roast, add them to banana bread….. and on and on!
What should you NOT eat with Taza Chocolate? Well, not much… but I’d say, fake food. Aspartame.
We’re inspired by the same things GFM is – foods that are fresh, hand-crafted, and artisanal. We’ve found it to be a wonderful place to talk chocolate and real food with like-minded customers and fellow vendors.