This past weekend, I visited a local vegan chocolate factory, Taza chocolate with a group of vegans. Best Saturday I’ve had in a while! The company isn’t vegan-owned and they don’t specify that their chocolate is vegan but due to the style of chocolate that they make, it’s by default vegan. Mexican stone ground chocolate is dairy-free and because Taza uses organic sugar (non bone-char sugar) and no animal products their chocolate is truly vegan. They have no intention of creating milk chocolate either..Mexican stone ground chocolate is always dark (non-dairy). We were very happy to hear this.
Taza is one of just a few bean to bar chocolate makers in the United States. This means that they actually start their process from the cacao bean and complete it all the way to the end product: the chocolate bar. Many chocolate “makers” actually make their creations from premade chocolate. Taza doesn’t and instead has control of their ingredients from start to finish. They buy fair trade chocolate and make sure their other ingredients are equally responsibly harvested. I was really impressed with the thought and care that they put into their manufacturing process through every step of the way. They are committed to treating everyone in the entire process fairly while staying consistent to their green values. Even their chocolate deliveries locally are delivered by pedal power aka bicycle!
First stop: an visual explanation of the entire process from whole cacao pods to beans to bars and of course, samples.
Hairnets were required..everyone worked ’em well!
The sorting and roasting machinery…
Stone wheels for grinding in the Mexican chocolate tradition…
An ancient german bean roaster rescued from an abandoned building and put to good use in Somerville, MA. It’s still plugging along.
A machine for separating the beans from the pods…this machine is also salvaged but works well…
The sorted nibs..the pods are even reused. Local brewing companies as well as a local tea company use them for flavoring. Nothing is wasted!
Tasting the nibs..I like them and so did others but some find they are too bitter (and without sugar not the kind of chocolate taste you might expect).
All Taza chocolate is hand wrapped with biodegradable wrappings with the exception of the foil used on the bars. The company is researching an alternative to foil.
Hand wrapping station
Stone wheels for grinding the beans
Looks like a typical factory until we remembered that’s chocolately goodness in those machines!
Of course they needed our help with some quality control..hehe
I opted for some solid chocolate as a souvenir but this chocolate extract will be my next purchase.
Taza makes so many yummy kinds of chocolate..can I decide? No. Salted Almond, Salt and Pepper, Almond, Mocha..oh I’ll have it all!
The veganz..me in the front
Some other Taza products…
Yeah, it is HOT! But it’s delicious…
Everybody wants a little bit of Taza to bring home…
The Taza tour was a really fun way to spend an hour on Saturday. If you’re visiting Boston I highly recommend giving it a try!
For more information on Taza tours check out: http://www.tazachocolate.com/tours
What else is new? Some vegan friends are starting a vegan reading group this week and our first read: Sistah Vegan. Anyone read it? I’ve got three chapters to get through before the next meeting so until then..sticky fingers and chocolately dreams!