Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maker Profile: Taza Chocolate

company nameTaza Chocolate
chocolate makers
Alex Whitmore
Mike Schechter

factory location561 Windsor St,
Somerville, MA 02143
factory tours$5 per person
click here for more information
direct online purchaseTaza
direct storesTaza Factory Store
561 Windsor St,
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 284-2232
retail store purchaseTaza retail store finder
selling bars since2006
plantation barsnone
single origin bars Cacao Puro Mexicano 70% (Dominican Republic)
Stone Ground 87% (Bolivia)
Stone Ground 80% (Dominican Republic)
Stone Ground 70% (Dominican Republic)
Stone Ground 60% (Dominican Republic)
Wicked Dark (Dominican Republic)
blend barsnone
other barsnine single origin flavored Chocolate Mexicano bars
production cyclebean to bar
added fatcocoa butter from same cacao beans
sweetenercane sugar
flavoringvanilla bean
organicall bars USDA certified
sustainablezero percent waste, local bike delivery, carbon neutral shipping, etc.
economicsdirect trade
last updatedNovember 15, 2011

From their website: "Taza Chocolate was born out of a desire to combine the Mesoamerican tradition of chocolate with a modern, high-quality product manufactured in a socially responsible way."

Taza makes chocolate using granite millstones to stone grind their cacao beans and they do not conch their chocolate, resulting in a grainy texture and unrefined flavors. The cocoa butter they use is from the same cacao beans. Taza does not use an emulsifier in their chocolate. All of their ingredients are certified USDA organic and grown using sustainable agricultural practices.

They have built direct trade agreements with the suppliers of their cacao beans. Their primarily suppliers are the La Red Guacanejo cooperative and Finca El Vesia in the Dominican Republic. This year, Taza also sourced cacao from the Central Integral Agroecologica de Alto Beni cooperative in Bolivia and they are in the process of expanding and diversifying their cacao suppliers.

Taza pays at least $500 per metric ton above market price in exchange for quality cacao beans with at least 95% fermentation and a maximum of 7% moisture. They are quite open about the details of their direct trade practices and document them on their website. Taza published an Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report in September.

In addition to disclosing information about their suppliers, Taza generously shares information about how each batch of chocolate was made. On their home page, you can type in the batch number from the back of the wrapper and Taza displays where the cacao beans and other ingredients came from, when the beans arrived, roasting details including temperature and time, grinding date, etc.

The company was founded by Alex Whitmore (pictured above), Larry Slotnick, and Kathleen Fulton. Mike Schechter joined Taza in 2007 and took over for Alex as head chocolate maker. You can read more about the people of Taza in the About Us section of their website.

Taza has its factory and store in Somerville, Massachusetts, just northwest of Boston. They give public factory tours (with sample chocolate) nearly every day for $5, and you can purchase chocolate at the factory store. You can buy directly from Taza online, and Taza chocolates are found in many retail stores.

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