Election Day: Vote Chocolate!

It’s Election Day, go vote! Then read this blogpost. (Or read it while standing in line :))

I (Danielle) am an Army Veteran (and the family tree of other service members is almost freakish), so with Veteran’s Day right around the corner I convinced Lauren to run with a Veteran theme for the week. Where to start?

Vote Chocolate!

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Our first stop was at Harper Macaw, craft chocolatiers:  Half of the partnership consists of a Marine Corps vet, Colin, and the other half is his wife Sarah, a Brazilian culinary goddess (we haven’t actually met but I’m convinced she’s a goddess). Yep, this is a coffee blog, but we’ve mentioned before that craft chocolate is really not far removed. 

Our interview starts a little late because Colin was delivering bulk chocolate to Little Red Fox across town – they are going to be using it in their craft mochas and drinking chocolate. Local supporting local! I didn’t mind waiting, as I was offered a choice between Zeke’s brewed coffee and a nitro cold brew from Confluence Coffee Co. that incorporates Harper Macaw cocoa nibs.

{Confluence Coffee Co. is an “experimental coffee company focusing on pushing the boundaries of sensory experience.” They’re based in Richmond VA and use Blanchard’s coffee. The Mocha cold brew has three ingredients: organic fair-trade Honduran coffee, water, and those direct trade Brazilian cocoa nibs.}

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Mocha Nitro Cold Brew Kegorator at the factory

Their office space is open and welcoming – really the kind of place where you’d want to come to work (again, that nitro cold brew kegorator helps..) They are open on weekends for shopping and tours (another plus is that they’re next to the DC Brau factory – more kegs!)

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Made in DC – Shop Local!

Along one wall is a map of Brazil – it’s where they source all their chocolate from, and that’s where we start our visit.

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Colin showing me the different estates where they source their cocoa beans.

They source all of their chocolate through direct trade. “Our producers are at the avant-garde of cacao agroforestry, with crop maintenance and pre and post-harvest practices that not only yield tremendous quality but are both environmentally and economically sustainable.” That’s a mission we can get behind!

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Bags and bags of beans!

 

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Large factory in NE

 

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You see what they did here with the “M”en’s and “W”omen’s bathrooms?

The factory is large, and it is obvious that Colin and Sarah have big plans for their business – their space is one they will grow into. Once they invent scratch-and-sniff smart-phones I’ll add the cocoa scent into this blogpost – the tour was delightfully cocoa fragranced!

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Open factory, room for expansion.

Part of the conservation efforts includes paying workers better wages and offering better working conditions. Harper Macaw pays 2-3 times the commodity rate for their cocoa beans. They purchase fine flavor cocoa beans that are genetically superior to your average bean, and they use natural fermentation processes. Their staff consists of people in food science and culinary fields. Making their unique craft bars includes a ten-step manufacturing method is a labor intensive process and this hard work and diligence to producing the best chocolate is reflected in each bar.

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Cocoa beans as they arrive at the factory
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Perfectly tempered and molded chocolate

Their chocolate can be found all over the DMV area, and quite a few coffeeshops offer their bars. Good news if you have a hard time spending more on the chocolate than you do your coffee: they are about to release a single-serving bar that will perfectly accompany your afternoon pick-me-up.

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Mini bars coming to a coffee shop near you!

[Speaking of $$. Allow me to speak (write!) candidly for a moment. Colin can see that it can be difficult to consider buying their chocolate as it is on the pricier end of the spectrum. Unlike specialty coffee that is maybe twice as expensive as what you find at your corner store, craft chocolate can be four or even eight times more expensive than a grocery store candy bar. He hopes people will choose for their quality, fine flavor, and fair and personal relationships with the farmers. Good quality craft chocolate bars are not candy and they’re so rich and decadent that they are not meant to be consumed in a single sitting. Another friend once told me when I had a hard time justifying the expense of craft chocolate to consider what we spend on dessert after a nice meal at a restaurant. $9 to savor a delightful and ethically made chocolate bar doesn’t seem so bad in this light.]

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VOTE CHOCOLATE

The folks at Harper Macaw partner with DC graphic design company Design Army for their beautiful packaging ideas and their marketing. When they went looking for something incredibly DC oriented, Vote Chocolate came about, perfect during election year.

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The VIPs of election year

The names of the bars correspond with the unique flavorings: Red State has strawberry and raspberry, for example, whereas the Filibuster bar has pretzels and peanuts throughout. Of course I asked Colin if certain bars sold better than others, depending on the party affiliation. The Flip Flopper (milk chocolate with butter toffee and sea salt) has been their best seller whereas the Tea Party (sprinkled with Early Grey tea) has performed least favorably. The funny thing? In blind tastings (like at the wildly popular pop-up at Union Market in July) the Tea Party bar was the biggest hit.

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Earl Grey Tea Party Chocolate
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Setting up my own blind tasting for an election party.

Vote Chocolate has been a fun and whimsical campaign for Harper Macaw, all the while highlighting the uniqueness of DC (one bar is Taxation without Representation: dark chocolate with cocoa nibs) and also bringing light to their efforts of conservation in the Brazilian rain forest.

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I asked about what happens after the election. They will continue producing the bars until they complete all their Vote Chocolate packaging, and then they will turn on the creative processes again and come up with something new. With their educated staff, quality fine chocolate, brilliant partners like Design Army, and enthusiastic and loyal clients/customers/consumers, we are confident and excited to see what they will come up with next!

PS – Have you tried their chocolate? Which bar has YOUR vote? Sound off!

[Tune in to two more Veteran themed posts Friday and next Tuesday.]

Stay grounded,

Daniëlle

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One thought on “Election Day: Vote Chocolate!

  1. Pingback: Crazy for Cocoa

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