Most people aren't aware that there are an estimated 1.8 million children involved in growing cacao in West Africa, which is where most of the world's cacao comes from. In Côte d'Ivoire (Africa’s Ivory Coast), the 2nd largest exporter of cacao, there are estimates of up to 200,000 children who are victims of slavery & trafficking. Young children who work on cacao farms are much less likely to get an education; they are often injured from using sharp machete's to crack the cacao pods and from hauling heavy bags of cacao.
This is a major problem in the world of chocolate and imparts bitterness in what should be a blissfully sweet experience. The largest chocolate manufacturers in the world like Hershey’s, Mars & Nestle contribute to this problem by buying massive quantities of cheap cacao beans at rock bottom prices. This forces cacao farmers in poor countries to cut wages & benefits to their workers and unfortunately some resort to using child labor. The end result is a cheap price at the register for the uninformed consumer, but the real price is poverty and bondage for our brothers, sisters & children on the other side of the world.
Ok so you're probably thinking that this really sucks and wondering how you can make sure your chocolate isn't made with child labor. The good news is that you can help put an end to this, here's two things you can do right now.
1) Stop buying chocolate made with child labor. Spread the word and inform your friends and family about the real cost of buying cheap chocolate from companies like Hershey’s, Mars & Nestle. Buy fairly traded chocolate and only buy chocolate from companies you trust. If you're not sure, ask companies where their cacao comes from. If it comes from West Africa or Côte d'Ivoire it should be a red flag. If they don't know where it comes from this is also a red flag.
2) Be honest with your kids about the problem, the vast majority of cheap candy uses cacao that is grown & harvested by exploited workers & children. When kids are told the truth it empowers them to make better decisions.
Where your Coracao Confections Chocolate comes from...
Coracao Confections sources your chocolate from small farms in Peru & Ecuador that treat their adult farmers fairly and pay them above market prices. The cacao farming conditions overall are much better in South America and the quality of the beans are extraordinary. The chocolate flavor is deep, dark and delicious. The happy brain chemicals are remarkably potent and you can feel the happiness in every bite.
You as a consumer have the power to vote with your dollars and choose chocolate that is good for you, good for the planet, and good for the farmers who grow it. If you, your friends and family choose to only support companies that source fairly, it would literally help end the problem overnight. That’s why we offer quality chocolate that leaves you feeling radiant & nourished. Quality that gives you the long lasting energy you deserve. Quality that truly satisfies you and puts an end to those pesky sugar cravings. Quality that saves you money in the long run by avoiding unnecessary visits to the doctor & dentist. Quality that makes you feel happy, because you know you're eating real food, prepared and sourced the way it should be- Naturally, with love & care and made with cacao that's grown by adult farmers who are paid fairly.
With love and care from your Chocolatier,
Wow what a ride it has been the last few months! Thank you for choosing to pick up Coracao chocolates online, for coming out to the Farmer’s Markets, for spreading the word about Coracao on your social networks and for all the positive ideas & words you've shared with us. I feel so blessed and grateful for all the love and support Coracao has received.
After I sent out the last blog post I got an unexpected call from OBDC small business finance in Oakland. They gave Coracao a loan back in 2008 to help purchase our enrobing machine (which is basically an automatic truffle dipper). They called & wanted to support and are giving Coracao a loan! So rare for a lender or bank to help a business out when they need it most. What an amazing organization that really cares. They support many businesses around the bay, if you're looking for funding for your own business or know someone who is, they are a wonderful organization to reach out to.
Coracao is here to stay! We'll be bringing you even more delicious & nutritious creations to nourish your body & delight your taste buds.
Cooking, creating and sharing delicious food is my true love & my art. It's been almost four and a half years, but I'm back in the kitchen creating new flavors & items for you. I'm having a blast and am inspired & grateful to be able to continue serving you. Keep your eye out and your taste buds ready for some really fun, new items that will be debuting in the coming months...
PS. Follow Coracao on Instagram, click here to see yummy chocolate photos and some behind the scenes pics.
PPS. Coracao Turned 5 in August. Check out the photo of Matthew and I celebrating with a delicious cashew & raspberry cheesecake from his book Sweet Gratitude!
PPPS. Leave a comment or question below, I see and answer them all personally!
I'm sad to announce that the collective chocolate factory, retail store & cafe project, otherwise known as the Hooper’s project, has come to an unexpected end. As we continued to work on the project we discovered the beautiful 100 yr old building needed much more restoration than we had thought and in the end it didn't make sense for us to invest that much in a rental building.
We put in a lot of time, money and energy into the project and Coracao took a big financial hit. For the first time since we opened our doors nearly five years ago, Coracao faces the possibility of going out of business. We are taking many steps to try and turn things around, though it is a big challenge and Coracao needs your extra love and support right now to continue.
What you get with Coracao is the best quality, healthy, fairly traded, non-gmo, organic, wild-crafted and allergy aware chocolate that tastes even better than addictive junk food chocolate. If you've been waiting for the right time to pick up some Coracao, or have been wanting to get something for a loved one, now is the right time. By voting with your heart and dollar now it will help make the difference. You can get Coracao chocolate on the web-store, at your local Farmer’s Market and a retail location near you. A big win-win is signing up for the Chocolate of the Month Club. It will save you a lot of money on your favorite chocolate and is an ongoing pledge of support that will help keep Coracao in existence.
As an extra thank you I'm including a free bag of Cora Quick with every online order you place this week (through Sunday 7/21). Cora Quick is Coracao's new instant hot & cold cocoa mix, it's off the chain good and it reminds me of drinking Nesquik when I was a kid. It's brand new and I'd love to hear what you think about it. Right now it’s only available at the Farmer’s Markets but it will be available on the web-store soon.
Thank you so much for being a part of the Coracao family and for all of your love & support over the last 5 years. It is an honor and a privilege to bring you the absolute best quality chocolate we can and with your support we will continue to serve you for many more years to come.
With love and gratitude,
PS. Another way you can support is by spreading the word- Let your people know they can eat tons of delicious chocolate and feel incredible after; share Coracao's facebook page, twitter page and the newsletter. Also if you'd like Coracao carried in your grocery store, please tell your store buyer. Thanks again!
This month we're thrilled to feature Chelsea Coleman! Chelsea has been rocking the Berkeley Tuesday Farmer’s Market since January. Before moving to CA she used to own and operate an organic vegetable farm in Oklahoma. She decided to move to the Bay Area after going to an open mic night in Berkeley and meeting people she wanted to play music with. Plus her mom lives here and she said farming was really hard on her back.
Chelsea's favorite things to do include playing music- She is an INCREDIBLY talented country folk singer & songwriter. She also loves hiking and cooking with family & friends. Chelsea decided to work with Coracao because she LOVES chocolate and Coracao is the best chocolate she's ever had. Plus she likes how nice and chill everyone is and she enjoys selling something she loves. Her favorite items are the Chai Spice Truffle and Rawmond Butter Bar, also she thinks the Mayan Spice Milk is crazy good.
What we love about Chelsea is her amazing smile, her genuine warmth & friendliness, her radiance, her musical talents, how much she loves life and how she wears her heart on her sleeve. We love Chelsea and are grateful to have her on the team.
Check out her sensational music below and make sure to like her on Facebook to stay in the know about her live shows!
Hello Cacao Lovers,
I thought I'd share the Superfood Smoothie recipe that I've been making almost every morning, which I've named the "Almond Buzzer" because of the essential ingredients of Almond Butter and Bee Pollen. Without fail, this smoothie really gets me going every time I drink it. It’s an instantly energizing drink which keeps me going for hours, and also puts me in a great mood! As an added bonus- this smoothie takes very little time to make, around 5 minutes.
My experience with Bee Pollen has led me to believe it truly is one of the worlds' most powerful Superfoods. It is known as "Natures Complete Food" and I wholeheartedly agree! I get our Bee Pollen from the "Bee Healthy Honey Shop" on Telegraph Ave (and 30th) in Oakland. Their Bee Pollen is obviously super fresh and from a new batch every time I go in there. It's also extremely local, being procured by them from the Oakland and Berkeley hills. And at $20/pound, I don't think there’s a better deal anywhere in the bay for such high quality Bee Pollen! Bee Pollen lasts a long time too- they told me at the Honey Shop that it lasts for up to a year in the fridge, and up to 6 months out of the fridge.
The following link has some great information about the incredible benefits of Bee Pollen: http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-bee-pollen
"ALMOND BUZZER" Smoothie Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups Water
- 3 tablespoons Raw Almond Butter
- 3 tablespoons Raw Cacao Nibs
- 4 tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
- 3 tablespoons Coconut Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Bee Pollen
- 1 cup Ice
Blend everything except ice on high until smooth. Add ice at the end and continue blending until ice is incorporated. Enjoy! Sometimes I will also add a tablespoon of Maca and/or Chlorella. A dash of ground vanilla bean is also a delicious addition.
Daniel's Dark Chocolate Truffles
- 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
- 1 1/2 cup Raw Cacao Powder
- Extra Raw Cacao Powder for rolling truffles
- 1/4 cup Vanilla Palm Syrup
- Pinch of Salt
- Chopped nuts of your choice (optional) - Walnuts, Almond, and Hazelnuts work really well
Melt the coconut oil down in a double boiler. Add the Raw Cacao Powder, Vanilla Palm Syrup, and Salt to the Coconut Oil and mix together until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool a little bit so it's easy to handle and then roll into bite sized truffles. Roll the truffles in Cacao Powder and then chopped nuts and you have your very own beautiful, decadent truffles! Enjoy!
Most people don’t know this, but all commercial chocolate is tempered. It’s what gives chocolate that glossy shine and crisp snap that we all know and love. Have you ever had a chocolate bar that melted? Then when it hardened it looked fuzzy, striped and had a crumbly texture that didn’t resemble the glorious, smooth, brown bar it used to be. That’s because chocolate re-crystalizes (hardens) at six different stages, but only stage five will give it the smooth gloss & snap. Tempering ensures that the chocolate sets at stage five. It is a process of gently warming & cooling the chocolate to an exact degree. It takes about three hours and is all done under 115 degrees- Which helps preserve the nutritional value.
Step One: Once chocolate has been tempered it is hand poured by Cynthia, our head Chocolatier into chocolate bar molds.
Step Two: The excess chocolate is removed and the chocolate is allowed to set, this takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
Step Three: Once the chocolate has set, the molds are flipped over and the bars are ready to be wrapped… Then eaten, of course!
Note: All chocolate absorbs moisture and flavor, so whenever you store chocolate in the fridge put it in an airtight container or bag- Cynthia is following proper protocol and putting the chocolate in an airtight container.
We hope you enjoyed the behind the scenes peak at how a chocolate bar is made.
Your Chocolate Makers,
Today I'd love to share one of the most valuable things working with Chocolate has taught me. This is the first installment of what I'm calling, 'Chocolate Wisdom - The Lessons of Chocolate'. Over the years of being a Chocolatier, certain foundational principles of how to work with the chocolate have made themselves crystal clear. As I am doing the chocolate work, I often ponder what some of the deeper, broader meanings are of these 'foundational principles'. I am constantly blown away by the awesome Life Lessons that I've learned, practiced, and embodied simply by working with chocolate!
Lesson 1: TAKE CONTROL.
Anyone who has ever worked with chocolate knows one thing for sure- it’s messy! It has a tendency to want to get all over the place and things can get extremely out of control, very fast. Taking control over the chocolate is one of the most basic- and most important- aspects of working with it. Chocolate is kind of like a dog. Dogs can get pretty out of control unless their master is asserting their authority. Without a master, the dog will just do what it wants, which generally means it will get into trouble. But under the proper guidance of a master, a dog can be a completely obedient and helpful companion. Similarly, if left to its own devices chocolate will just 'do what it wants'. And believe me, you don't want chocolate to do what it wants, you want it to do what YOU want. And I'm not just talking about chocolate creating a mess here. This principle applies to nearly every aspect of chocolate work- if I don't consciously take control, things will spiral out of control faster than I can blink!
This is where the attitude of "I am in Control" comes in to play. Taking that attitude and running with it in all areas of my life has been profound. Of course (like everything I think) there is a paradox at work here because humans are simultaneously "in control" and "not in control". But adopting the attitude of "I am in Control" is obviously a more powerful place to stand than "I am Not in Control". And due to the Law of Attraction, adopting the "I am in Control" attitude actually shows up as, well, being in Control! It simply comes down to *choosing* to be in control. Due to our gift of Free Will as humans, we are all blessed with the power of choice at any given moment. Even when there are circumstances which we have no control over, we still have the power to choose who we will be and how we will act in the face of that circumstance. We are really never powerless unless we choose so.
For the last 7 years I've gotten to work with chocolate all the time, and all that practice has made this lesson like second nature. My attitude going into the kitchen is, "I know what I'm doing, I am in Control." Building that muscle of being in Control has helped me so much in all areas of my life- areas where I once was not very powerful but now stand firmly in my power and in full control. What a blessing! I believe chocolate is a very wise and powerful entity, one that can literally change people’s lives for the better and indeed, the whole planet!
Anything and everything can be a teacher of super valuable lessons. I've chosen to be a Chocolatier, and at a certain point I started realizing it wanted to teach me something. Actually, lots of things! It’s pretty amazing, and I look forward to sharing more "Chocolate Wisdom" with you soon!
#1: Many of the ingredients in your chocolates are sourced direct from local farmers. Including organic & raw almonds from Kashiwase Farms, walnuts from Full Belly Farms, dates from Flying Disc Ranch, bee pollen from the Berkeley hills, pecans from Kaki farms, Fresh Kaffir Lime leaves from a specialty grower in San Jose and coffee beans from Blue Bottle Coffee.
#2: Every workday at the chocolate factory we provide a free, healthy team lunch. On Tuesdays, either Sean or I will pick up groceries from the Berkeley Farmer’s Market- If you see me walking around the market with overflowing bags of groceries, that's why. ;) One of the benefits of working for Coracao is a paid lunch break and free healthy lunch. It's an investment to feed our team every week. There are two reasons we do this, number one because we care about our team’s health. Having at least one healthy meal with fresh, organic Farmer’s Market veggies everyday makes a difference. As the wise, ancient Greek Hippocrates said:
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
The Number two reason we do this is that sharing a communal meal brings us closer together and gives us an extra opportunity to connect and enjoy each other’s company. I have a lot of fun shopping for the team and bringing random seasonal ingredients in that they cook up for lunch- Sometimes it's kinda like Iron Chef and it makes me happy every time one of our team experiences a new food that they've never tasted before.
#3: We love our environment just as much as you and use plastic free, eco-friendly packaging. Your bars are lovingly wrapped by hand in unbleached wax paper. The little brown bags your truffles get put into at the Farmer’s Market are also unbleached. All chocolate boxes are made from recycled materials and when we do bag things like chocolate bark or blondie bars we use cellophane bags. Cellophane is made from plant based materials and is 100% biodegradable.
Thank you for choosing Coracao and thank you for choosing the absolute best for your body, your world & your taste buds.
Until next time...
With Eco-Friendly love,
The Almond Coconut Dream has had a nearly 5 year love affair with Coracao customers and our team. It was one of our original items and is our take on the classic Almond Joy.
I used to love the original Almond Joy, Snickers, Reese’s Pieces, M&M’s, Rolos and many more classics. Though after many years of eating junk food I began to get fat, have acne, feel “spaced out”, feel drained & low energy, was getting sick a lot and felt a lot of shame & guilt about my diet and body.
One of the books that changed both Matthew and my destiny is Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe. That was when the light bulb went off and we realized that pure chocolate is actually a remarkably healthy food- That it is one of the highest antioxidant foods ever tested, has a ton of iron, is rich in magnesium, chromium, zinc and contains both the feel great “love” & “bliss” chemicals. That contrary to popular belief chocolate or cacao is one of the most healthy and amazing foods on the planet. It’s no wonder the Mayans referred to it as “The food of the gods”.
The problem is that most chocolate on the market is poor quality, highly processed, sourced unfairly, full of cheap fillers like corn syrup, refined sugar, processed milk powder, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. Unfortunately because of this, chocolate has unfairly gotten a reputation for being unhealthy.
Since reading Naked Chocolate we have been on a quest to bring you the most healthy & delicious chocolate possible. By using the best ingredients on the planet and merging it with our long lost love for nostalgic chocolate classics, we bring you revolutionary chocolate treats that leave you feeling great after eating them and that truly satisfy you.
The Almond Coconut Dream was one of our first important developments. They are made with organic coconut, fresh scraped vanilla beans, and a touch of Ojio raw & clear agave nectar. They are then hand scooped, topped with organic, raw almonds from the Berkeley farmers market and enrobed in our 81% dark Peruvian chocolate. That’s it. Oh and the almonds are soaked, sprouted and dehydrated which makes them even easier for your body to digest and makes them extra crunchy and delicious. Click here to get your Almond Coconut Dreams and make your dreams come true.
With Love & Gratitude,
PS. In the summer I like to put my chocolates in the fridge or freezer and eat them cold. Just remember chocolate absorbs moisture and flavor so make sure you put them in an airtight bag or container. Nothing beats sharing a cold chocolate morsel of love and bliss with friends & family on a hot day.