"In April 2012, I traveled to Oaxaca Mexico. Shortly into my stay there, I was invited to stay in Teotitlán del Valle, a Zapotec town with strong chocolate traditions. When I visited Maria, she asked me if I had ever made chocolate before. I had barely said no and she was already on her way to get the cacao beans. So began an afternoon of making chocolate the traditional way - open fire roasted, hand peeled within sight of their sacred mountain, and stone ground with a molino. The result? A honey sweetened chocolate paste, fresher and more delicious than any chocolate I had ever tasted before."
"Upon returning to the US from Mexico ... I immediately began reading everything I could about chocolate. My engineering background came in handy as I assembled a home kitchen scale chocolate factory, perfect for making ten pound batches (watch the video below!). Over the course of two years while living in Bolinas and Sebastopol, my understanding of the many variables affecting chocolate deepened experientially and theoretically, and the chocolate steadily improved batch by batch.
Feedback from friends and family encouraged me to keep going. I made chocolate with cacao beans sourced from all over Central and South America, and I discovered my favorite cacao bean, an organic premium cacao from Belize. After a personal experiment of reducing processed sugar in my diet, I began making 85% dark chocolate exclusively, and began using coconut palm sugar as a sweetener. Taking inspiration from the raw foods movement, I also brought increasing care to maintaining the aliveness and vitality of the chocolate, by roasting and conching at the lowest temperatures possible."
Crowdfunding Video Production by http://startmotionmedia.com
"In early 2014, my chocolate making reached a threshold. I knew that I needed to make chocolate in a commercial kitchen to share it with the public, and I wanted to work with professional machines so I could keep making better chocolate. In May 2014, the name Firefly Chocolate was born. After 150 people supported my first crowd-fundraising campaign by pre-ordering chocolate bars, I spent months searching for a suitable chocolate making space, and rewrote my business plan several times as I sought for an effective way to scale. In November 2014 I finally found an unfinished warehouse in Windsor CA, located near several other food businesses, and signed a lease. As I began construction, I received further financial support through a crowd-funded loan from KivaZip, and a business loan from a Bay Area not-for-profit, Working Solutions.
By May 2015, I had transformed the warehouse into a dedicated chocolate making facility, making Firefly Chocolate the first bean to bar chocolate company in Sonoma County. Bean to bar chocolate is a movement that is transforming chocolate making (akin to craft breweries and local coffee roasters), and I am thrilled to be part of a rapidly growing community of talented bean to bar chocolate makers. Each maker brings their own story and philosophy, and I encourage you to seek them out!"