What is small batch chocolate? Ask anyone who is in the industry and they will each tell you a different answer. We have many things we both agree and disagree in practice, but in reality we share more similarities than differences. We all share a similar vision of fashioning and bringing into existence something better and more in tune with Nature.
Making chocolate is no small task. Somedays I wish I was a chocolatier, but I know I am only fooling myself. I have to honestly say this is the hardest endeavor I have thus far pursued in life. I foolishly thought at the onset this would be a quick easy task and take no time at all to learn. It was only through many trials and errors that I have arrived where I am today. For there is often no gain without embracing pain. I started with many different ideas and beliefs that time has since challenged. I have had much time to delve deep and in the process lose myself to my craft. The perfect quote that comes to mind on this topic stems from a cult classic …“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” Thus, I have learned more than expected about myself and my overall work.
Today it is a question of quality vs. quantity. Many of us have chosen not to follow the path of industrialization and mass production, but instead a path less traveled in the modern era. Once upon a time, before the industrial revolution, many small towns had a local chocolate maker/chocolatier. A craftsman’s aim is always foremost on quality with a clear mindfulness of the end consumer (the local community). Today with modern technology, we cannot manufacture high quality chocolate in large quantities without making certain sacrifices. Emulsifiers and synthetic petrochemicals are the cost to mass produce chocolate at a cheap cost.
How far reaching is a simple decision, such as purchasing a product?. When you purchase a chocolate bar at your big box retailer like Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, etc. you might save money, but at what cost? Who wins and loses? Keep in most of these stores operate on keystone pricing (discounting products 50%+). It is the reason you typically do not find many local products in big box retailers. They cannot compete with companies that have economies of scale with mass production. Also, keep in mind that if you are shopping at one of these big box retailers, understand that all the money you are choosing to spend goes back to the companies headquarters. That might be good if they are located in your state, but if not it is a drain on the local economy. In comparison, when you choose to support a local chocolate maker or chocolatier you put a face to a product. When you support a local maker you support your local economy. The money might go towards hiring more labor, paying local taxes, hiring local business services, and philanthropic endeavors. Yes, you will likely spend more, but you will be supporting your local community and expressing what you value. When a local community comes together and collectively chooses to support local it creates an eclectic unparalleled community where people love to live, work, and play. Certain cities understand and embody these ideas and values such as Austin, San Francisco, New York City, Portland, and the list goes on.
Remember, that sense of place many of us are longing and arduously searching for is always here and ready waiting for us to make the choice.