The Plan to Eat Podcast

#42: The Secrets of Craft Chocolate with Gila of DAR Chocolate

November 23, 2022 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 42
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#42: The Secrets of Craft Chocolate with Gila of DAR Chocolate
Show Notes Transcript

Join us this week to learn about the craft of making bean-to-bar chocolate with Gila of DAR Chocolate. A Colorado-based chocolate-making company, on a mission to connect artists and art lovers through artisan chocolate. DAR Chocolate started in Gila and Joel's garage in 2016 and quickly became a fully operating small chocolate factory located in the Denver area. Recently the couple has combined their love for art with their love for chocolate and launched their Art Bars - a rotating exhibit of artworks on chocolate bars. 

DAR bars can be found at all Whole Food stores in the Rocky Mountain region, Marckzyks Fine Foods, Pharamaca, and other specialty stores in Colorado, as well as high-end natural grocery stores in other states.

Grab some craft chocolate and savor it while you listen! 

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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.

Riley: Hello and welcome to the Plan to Eat podcast. Today we are talking about chocolate. Does it get better than that? I don't think so. Um, we interviewed Gela Dar of Dar Chocolate. Dar Chocolate is a bean to bar company, um, and they make amazing chocolate.

Roni: Dar Chocolate is actually located here in northern Colorado. Uh, the Plan to Eat team got to take a tour of the Dar chocolate facility. It was super fun. You can see some, uh, reels and things related to it on our Instagram account. But we talked to Gila today, uh, basically about how she got started as, somebody who makes chocolate, how they got started with their business, and some of the processes that actually happen in this bean to bar, um, you know, chocolate making.

So we thought really interesting. Gila is such a fun person to [00:01:00] talk to. She has a, just a really lively personality. So we hope you enjoy this episode and we hope you will enjoy some chocolate while you're listening to it.

Well, Gila, thanks for joining us today on the podcast. It's nice to talk to you.

Gila: Yeah, same here.

Riley: Let's jump right in. Why don't you tell us who you are and what you do.

Gila: I am a co-owner of Dar Chocolate together with my husband Joel, and we have been making chocolate since 2016 here in, uh, well in Thornton, but we live in Denver, so we're a Colorado based company. our chocolates can be found, uh, all over, more or less, particularly in Colorado, but also outside of

Roni: That's awesome. What makes your chocolate special? What's, what's different about Dar chocolate?

Gila: Well as a ch, as the, uh, as a chocolate, it's a [00:02:00] bean tobar chocolate or, um, some of our chocolates are made from what's called liquor, which is the already partially ground coco nibs. So they reach us after they've been fermented and dried and partially ground up on the farms, wherever the origin is from, but it would be Ecuador in our case.

Otherwise made from the bean from different orange origins and, uh, bean to bear. Chocolate has become, I'd say, quite a trend in the past, uh, I don't know, maybe decade. And, uh, I'd say we're more of the late comers into that game and people are still entering that space. Uh, so it's. It's, it's maybe a bit of a crowded market niche, I'd say.

But here in Colorado [00:03:00] there are just, you know, I can barely count on one hand how many craft chocolate makers there are. Um, but what sets craft chocolate apart from the regular chocolate that we typically are familiar with from when we were young or that we see in the supermarket on the shelves is.

We have the opportunity to taste the true flavor of cacao,

Roni: Hm 

Gila: which is very different than commercial chocolate.

Riley: Talk to us about that. What would you say are those differences for somebody who's never had, um, this kind of chocolate before? Talk to us about the differences in flavor and what they might expect from your bar versus a supermarket chocolate bar.

Gila: So, you know, it's like in the world of coffee or wine, um, what's called terroir. So that's the, the, um, uh, you know, the, the , what's the word? Excuse me. I have several languages going on in my head. [00:04:00] Um, it's the ground right where the cacao is growing that impacts flavor elevation. Um, for those who don't know, cacao only grows 20 degrees above and below the equator. It can't be found. I mean, you know, in the botanical gardens in Chicago, they have one cacao tree that maybe grows two pods. And just for people to know, one pod yields, uh, either one or two chocolate bars, I don't remember, but one cacao pod, that's what.

We'll come out of it. Um, so those are things that will affect the flavor of the cacao and that together with the dna. So there, there are three main families of cacao types of cacao, and one of them is the one that is more prevalent. It is found mainly in Africa. Um, a lot of it is grown on the Ivory Coast.

This is where big companies will source their cacao. Um, and the other two are ones that have a more, uh, flavorful, like [00:05:00] notes can range from floral to nutty to earthy. We've had a cacao ones that had tobacco notes, chocolatey, right? It sounds kind of an oxymoron. Say, Oh, it's a chocolatey chocolate, but no.

Once you get to know the, these different flavors, um, I was just tasting this morning a chocolate, I don't even know where it's exactly from, but somebody sent it as a sample to us. Um, it tasted to me like vanilla, vanilla and um, you know, it had that texture of chocolate melty in the mouth and, and sweet.

Now vanilla is not one of the flavors that are in the cacao beans. It's not one of the typical. Notes that you'll find vanilla is added. For me, the minute I see that vanilla was added to a chocolate, I know that most likely, I won't say a hundred percent. Some craft chocolate makers will add the vanilla [00:06:00] just as part of their recipe.

Most likely. That is a cacao bean that does not. It's the type that does not have that rich flavor profile, and so they add the vanilla to make it a richer flavor. . And another thing that happens to this commercial cacao is the fact that cacao, most of the cacao in the world, about 90% comes from small farms.

So what does this mean? That each farmer has his ways of, uh, first of all, it's their ground, how they grow, their coco, different areas, how they ferment, how they dry fermentation. Huge flavor profile, determinator. So what this means is if a big company who you know, uh, produces tons of cacao in, you know, a small short of time, they need somehow to, to, uh, create a flavor profile that is, uh, particular to them. So they'll roast the [00:07:00] caco very dark. Um, you know, each one will have their, I guess their roasting profile to reach some homo and they'll add their vanilla. And you know, that's the flavor of blah blah. And that's the flavor of blah, blah. Uh, craft chocolate makers like ourselves. We're, we're not about the flavor of Dar, we're about the flavor of the origin.

Or we have flavored bars, which is already different recipes. We have a wonderful master chocolate tier who concocts different things that, you know, we feel are delicious, healthy, and also people will love them.

Roni: Mm.

Riley: I wish people could see you talking about this because it's clearly so, you're so passionate about it, just the way you're moving your hand. And your body like it's just coming out of you. All this chocolate information and I love it.

Gila: Well, I'm a [00:08:00] dancer, so whenever I talk about something and I'm passionate about it will be totally expressed through my body.

Riley: I can totally see that. That's great.

Roni: What led you to get to the chocolate industry? Have you been doing, so you said you guys started our chocolate in 2016. What did you do before that?

Gila: So, um, we are originally from the Middle East. Um, we come from a city called Tel Aviv. And, um, I'd say it was, uh, our political activism that, uh, led us out of our country of origin. Uh, although I was born in the United States, and, uh, we, we were heading. the United States and, uh, I'd say an an unexpected turn of events brought us to Costa Rica.

Now in Costa Rica, that's one of the places that is in that area of 20 degrees above and below the equator, right? Very close to Ecuador, close to the equator. And um, when we were in Costa Rica, we spent almost two years in Costa [00:09:00] Rica. Uh, Got friendly with people from the Pacha mama community there who are very much into, um, making these cacao concoctions and cacao ceremonies.

And they will create these drinks with raw cacao. So cacao will be fermented, dried, and then once it reaches us, we will roast the cacao. So roasting is another, uh, important determinator of flavor profile. Raw cacao will not roast, they will not roast the cacao. And just a side note, really fermenting cacao will raise the temperature of the cacao to about 55 Celsius. I don't know what that is in degrees, but at that point it can't even be really considered a raw.

You know, some, uh, raw whatever, cause I think 45 is that. But anyways, um, they don't roast them and they'll make this drink. But anyways, back to the story. Um, [00:10:00] so we were getting friendly with these people and. For people coming from, you know, just a western or European country, um, who know chocolate from the grocery store.

Suddenly you see this thing called beans and it has this interesting flavor. And then you see there are these trees and you see what the pods are, and inside the pad there's this fruit. It's this delicious fruit. And inside that are the just like, it's so mind blowing to discover. What chocolate really where it comes from, right?

Cause as just regular consumers, we're very, uh, oblivious to this, right? And so, uh, it, it really, it blew our mind. And, as we were in this transit transition of our life, it just suddenly clicked like, Why don't we get into this cacao thing? It's so interesting and everybody loves chocolate. Nine out of 10 people love chocolate.

So, uh, [00:11:00] we decided to really get deep into that and to learn how to make cacao. And we visited farms and we did this workshop with Paul Johnson on the, um, West Coast of Costa Rica. And we do not deal with Raha cacao because honestly it just doesn't taste good. But that's how we got into.

Roni: So then do you have a relationship with at all with the farms that you work with, that you get your, um, cacao out of Ecuador?

Gila: No. So it's Costa Rica. Oh, the Ecuadorian Coco. No. So we've met farmers in Costa Rica, but that was. That chapter when we lived in Costa Rica. Otherwise, as, uh, craft chocolate makers, I mean, in our case, for us to also go to the farms and source the caco and all that, that's, that's a lot for us. So we, we don't do that.

We work with people who we have relationships with, who we trust. We'll engage in a fair trade and. They, we get our cacao from them. So it's very, [00:12:00] it's just, uh, someone, Meridian cacao in Oregon. They, through them, we get our cacao from Tanzania or Vietnam. And through Cholaka in Boulder, we get cacao from Ecuador in Columbia, uh, we have a really unique Costa Rican.

Chocolate that we got through the, the cacao. We got through our dear friend Steve Devrees, who was the first craft chocolate maker in the United States. And he's a Denver guy, a dear friend of ours. And, uh, yeah, so that's basically how we source our cacao.

Riley: So you work with a master chocolatier, and so does he or she build, um, these recipes for you and then you guys get to go in and have these tastings and, uh, talk to us about that process and how you build re like specific recipes for bar.

Um, I'm really curious about that.

Gila: Well, first of all, you'll, you guys will see, you'll meet sema. Sema. She's also a, [00:13:00] a, an Israeli woman who we met. She lives in Boulder, and it was just like such a, um, Fabulous coincidence that she joined us. She had a chocolate shop and factory, not craft chocolate, but just like a chocolate, you know, candy factory back in, uh, Israel for 10 years.

So she's. That's she's SEMA is chocolate. And, um, and she just whoops them out of her hand. You know, like, like nothing. In the beginning it was Joel and I who were making the chocolate. Um, but Sema it's just so easy for her that we could really just say, Oh, let's do something, you know, with, you know, the, the nut butters or something with, uh, coffee and some, some spices, you know, And she'll come up with.

Some kind of delicious something. But yes, we do have to do tastings because, you know, the first recipe may be there's too much [00:14:00] of that flavor, or the chocolate isn't coming out enough, the flavor of the cacao. I, I would say that one of the more, um, , uh, amazing recipes, as simple as it would sound is in our sugar-free line because the whole market of sugar-free, um, you know, delights, uh, are typically made with either Stevia.

I'd say Stevia is more the more advanced. Um, we have the older stuff like, um, I don't remember their names, but like, you know, the saccharin kind of.

Roni: Like aspertame or something.

Gila: Yes. And then the new stuff is Monk Fruit and Erythritol. Um, which Monkfruit is an amazing natural sweetener substitute cuz a very small amount is like super sweet.

They all have an aftertaste to some. Uh, but what SEMA did is she made a recipe where it's the, the cacao and either a peanut [00:15:00] almond or a hazelnut, hazelnut and chocolate and cacao was just the best. So it's one of those three nuts, uh, both the pieces and the nut butter.

So if you think about, you know, these nuts, they have a certain kind of inherent sweetness to them already, so that in addition, you don't need to add too much of the sugar substitute to get a. Not too sweet, but sweet enough to really enjoy your chocolate. So she just made a fantastic recipe of that and it's just so nice in the mouth because it's, it's creamy and crunchy and so many people, they're like, Really?

This is with sugar substitute. So it's a wonderful art alternative for people who can't or really, really don't want to eat a lot of sugar, which is something that. Stand behind, um, as much as possible, less [00:16:00] sugar is better.

Riley: I, If you don't mind, I'd like to backtrack just a little bit because you just told us something that I think is really interesting. So you used to be the one who would create the recipes though. You guys are in Costa Rica. Talk to us about the timeline. You're in Costa Rica, you decide to, you're coming to the us, you're gonna be craft chocolate tears and you end up in the Denver area and you guys start dar chocolate and you guys are making the recipes, so like fill in the gaps there.

How did the business grow? How did you learn how to make a chocolate bar? Was that in your time in Costa Rica? I think I just asked way too many questions,

Gila: No, it's okay. It's timeline. That's the thing. When we were in Costa Rica, we, before we went to learn how to make the chocolate, we visited, um, this chocolateir in the mountains, but she would make these delicious bonbons and, um, like one of them, she had lemon grass in.

A [00:17:00] lemon grass flavor. And we actually have a bar of lemongrass ginger, which is inspired by, by her, by that particular bonbon that I tasted. But there we kind of experience flavors. Then we went to learn how to make the chocolate from the bean, the whole process from the farm to the bar. And that is really a very simple recipe.

I'd say it's more about how you choose your beans, cuz there is a. A science and, and a, an eye. You need an eye to determine what is a well fermented cacao bean. And then the, um, so seeing that it's well fermented. The drying practice is important for knowing if it's gonna, you know, how that impacts flavor or the quality of the bean.

And then there is the roasting. So determining are you gonna do a light roast? A dark roast, just, you know, you know, in Starbucks you always see these really dark, shiny coffee beans [00:18:00] that's really dark roast. You see the light brown ones with the fruity notes, that's the light roast. So with caco it's very similar.

So that's, that's the recipe. And then you decide, do you wanna have it 50% sugar or 70, or 90 or a hundred, right? Um, cacao. So the, that, that's what a recipe is about when creating just a bean to bar dark chocolate. So that's what we were doing until, no, we actually, we did one with coffee. We added coffee, the lemongrass, ginger.

Yeah, we even did a cinnamon and cloves one. For the holidays, which keeps coming back. It's a favorite. And we have this salted caramel coffee. These are not, so for our classic flavors, uh, SEMA just kind of, uh, continues with our originals. SEMA joined us like almost four years ago, [00:19:00] so yeah. What did I miss out?

Something from your question.

Riley: I'm just curious more about the timeline and the fact that you guys were the ones, you know, actually making these recipes and these bars. Um, and then you brought in this chocolateir and just that whole process is really interesting to me.

Gila: so, uh, Costa Rica, the how we got from Costa Rica to Denver of all places was just cuz we were like, okay, where is there not too many craft chocolate makers compared to like California where there are many? And and yet it's a cool city. So we just said, Okay, Denver. It's gonna be Denver. And we started out in our garage.

That's like for the first two months, we're just making chocolate. You know, we had a little grinder, We had this convection oven and a machine that we built ourself for, for um, uh, a cacao bean has a husk around it, kinda like almonds that have this thin peel. You gotta get rid of that. Get them into tiny, small nibs in order to be able to grind them.[00:20:00] 

So for two months we were working in our garage. Then we started in a commercial kitchen where we did shifts, which, uh, very quickly within, uh, another month or two, we just took our own space. 24 hours, it's hours. Uh, we even grew from that a little more, although we're still, uh, quite a small team. Um, we have, besides sema, uh, we have two more people working with us 

Roni: When you get the beans, are they already fermented and you guys do the roasting? Is that how that works?

Gila: Yeah. So fermentation we cannot do, It has to happen on the farm. Uh,

Riley: Hmm.

Gila: As well as the drying. And then some, uh, I'd say it's maybe farmer co-ops, because one tiny farm will not go into this kind of, uh, uh, whole production. But, uh, some co-ops will also do the grinding, like roasting and grinding, where you'll get partially ground up.[00:21:00] 

cacao. So it's a hundred percent. It's still coarse. So just to, clarify a bit, this grounding process, it's, think about peanut butter, right? So you take peanuts and you grind them up and you get this like really lush, buttery substance. cacao has 50% fat in it, you know, 49, 51 depends on the, uh, particulars, but 50% fats.

So when you grind them up, it's a two, three day. continuous grinding in a machine, a stone grinder, and it will turn into this really luscious substance. Uh, so what we can, when I say chocolate liqueur, it will be that partially ground up, buttery substance, no sugar, nothing added.

Riley: Hmm.

Gila: Um, but what was your question?

Roni: I think you answered it already. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I did have another question that now I don't remember what it was. 

Riley: I feel like there's thousands of questions we can ask you

Roni: [00:22:00] Oh, I, I, I remembered if you, Yeah. Um, so when you talk about these small farms, how many trees does one small farm have? Like how many cacao trees are they harvesting from?

Gila: Yeah, that's, I'm not the person who's, uh, good at answering that type of numbers question, but, You know, like, uh, what did they have maybe in a year, a half, a ton of cacao that they'll bring to like a fermentation center. Typically that's, that's kind of the typical way where they bring their, their pods.

you know, it might be nice if, you know, you could link to some picture of what a cacao pad looks like for people who do not know, but I'd say it's kind of like, Uh, papaya a bit in terms of the size, maybe a little smaller. And inside are these beans and, uh, uh, so the Fermentation Center will take the.

These pods and, you know, continue from there with the fermentation, [00:23:00] et cetera. So half a ton, you know, it's, it's not a lot, but think about it, these are farmers who, you know, the cacao was just another one of the things that they have on their farm. Many of them are quite self sustainable, right? They, they grow their own food, et cetera.

And, uh, this kind of connects into the story of fair trade where, uh, these small farms, you know, out in rural areas, it's basically a family business. The kids are growing up and they're learning the, the trade of the family and they're, you know, going with the parents to work, uh, on the, on the grounds. And, um, 

they don't have computers. They don't have a school. This is what, this is what they're learning to do. They're learning to be farmers. cacao farmers. And then when we talk about fair trade, which fair trade is, uh, it's like a wonderful idea.

It's like, how, how do we pay these farmers a fair [00:24:00] price for their cacao But there's a chain, right? The farmer is bringing his pods to a ferment fermentation place, and the fermentation place will then sell the beans to someone if it's someone in their country or someone, let's say in the United States.

And that person in the United States is selling it to a craft chocolate maker like ourselves. And then we are selling a chocolate bar, right? So what fair trade is giving to a cacao farmer? Every uh,, particular quantity. It's giving them a, uh, an additional, like it's promising a minimum, a minimum price.

What that minimum price means, a minimum price per ton. What that minimum price per ton, The way it is translated to a farmer's pocket is a very small amount of money, like I said, half a ton per year. That's like, that's what they're producing, each small farm. And so [00:25:00] this. This minimum price, uh, the fermentation facility will also take that same percentage on, on their income.

And then the importer also adds that kind like they're all holding this title, Fair Trade Certified. Is it clear what I'm saying? Like this percentage is being added on to every part of the chain. Now, if we had a Fair Trade Cert certified, right, we would also be able to add on a certain percent to make, you know, for this Fair Trade certification to be justified.

So back to the, the, the, um, my original point is that translated to the farmer himself, who's the ones who's supposed to be benefiting from this, not me, or the per person I buy my cacao from. Right? So for the farmer, it's a very, very small amount. So we have this title, [00:26:00] Fair Trade, and all the Western people love seeing it, and it makes us feel good that we're buying something fair trade, but it does not translate to something meaningful enough to the people who really need it.

Riley: Hmm.

Gila: a very simple way of putting it, . 

Roni: So, uh, I mean, I guess there's this idea, there's a all, there's these middle men right in the, in the middle of the process where kind of this, the money then is kind of like trickling down to the farmer and getting pieces of it, or getting taken in each step of the process. But is there. Even if the Fair Trade label might be misleading in this sort of a way, uh, is there still a benefit to buying Fair Trade Chocolate compared to, you know, like a commercial or conventionally grown, produced chocolate?

Gila: I don't know. dunno.

Roni: Yeah.

Gila: I think like we, we say that our, the cacao we get is fairly traded, ethically traded. It just means that, we know the [00:27:00] person who is meeting the farmers directly. So there's like this direct connection, there's, there's a good relationship. It's more small scale in relationship in relative to, uh, you know, the big industry.

So, you know, there's something more ethical about it, but, think when it really when people are buying chocolate, um, it really comes down to a personal experience. Does, how does this taste right? Is there just too much sugar in this and it just tastes like sugar and vanilla? Well, you know, if you're, uh, knowledgeable enough on in your palette, like you, you have that experience, then you know you won't, you won't waste your money on, on that.

Riley: That leads me, I have so many questions, but that leads me to one question, which is how do you learn? It's like a sommelier is a wine expert. They could tell you all the different flavors and nuances. What is the equivalent of that in the chocolate sphere? 

Gila: Yeah, so there, there's like, there's a way to [00:28:00] taste and just so you know, the best time to taste chocolate is first thing in the morning.


Roni: Hmm,

Riley: Roni, 


Roni: I'm into that cuz I like a little bit of a treat in the morning

Gila: Right. So you guys are coming to our facility, to our chocolate kitchen in the morning, right? So try to keep a clean pallet. So we wanna smell. Smell is an important part of tasting. Texture is important. Part of tasting even the visual of it, like a snap, uh, a shiny and snappy chocolate. So it's the visual, it's the sound.

Does it snap nicely? These are things that, uh, the visual aspect as well as the way it melts on your, uh, on your tongue are have to do with the tempering of the chocolate. Which is another arts and science of itself. So, uh, yeah, we have all our senses involved here and, we, uh, when we're tasting chocolate, we [00:29:00] always, just like in wine, yes.

So there's a beginning, a meal and an end. So there are the notes, you know, how they open up and then in the middle that's when you know everything is warming up in your mouth. Going around dancing around your tongue and all the notes are opening up, and when you're, the end of it, when you're done, there's that, you know, just like the aftertaste of this, the sugar substitutes, there's the, the residue, there's uh, the taste at the end.

you could have a wonderful journey and then the end, it just doesn't end well. And you know, it's like having a bad experience with someone that you met who appeared in the beginning to be so amazing. And sometimes it's, it, it ruins the, the experience and sometimes like, okay, this chocolate, Yeah.

But it was still really good, right? So there are all kinds of different ways of experience this, uh, tasting little journey. in your mouth every time, in particular when you're [00:30:00] tasting different origins. So that's a really fun thing to do, to do a flight.

Riley: Oh yeah, that sounds really cool. Did, does that, when you get to that expert level, what is that status called in the chocolate industry?

Gila: A chocolate cone was so, I don't know. I mean,

anybody, anybody, like anybody can do that. You know? It's just a matter of doing it again and again until you know the details. Right. Details open up as we. Go over something again and again. There are some people who have, you know, better noses. Um, their pallets are more sensitive.

So, but in the end, you know, it's like to say, Oh, I get floral and nutty notes. Well, someone else gets, you know, uh, gray ham crackers. You know, that's fine. It's, it's not about right or wrong, it's just about a sensu experience. That's, that's really what it is. I mean, chocolate is just the sensual experience and it shouldn't be a, a unhealthy, uh, [00:31:00] candy.

We don't call our chocolate candy.

Roni: mm-hmm. Well, it makes me just think of this, uh, the idea of. Being present and aware with the, with the thing that you're eating and the food that you're consuming and taking the time to, you know, not just sit here and eat a bowl of m and ms or something, you know, but to actually taste and savor chocolate, um, so that you can pick out all those little different nuances rather, you know, rather than just, you know, it's just, oh, just taking a piece and going on my way or whatever.

I, I really like the way that you've described that.

Gila: Yeah, it's a different attitude towards something that, you know, it's just a comfort food really. Right? I mean, that's what we eat chocolate for. It can, you know, kind of be a social kind of fun thing to do. You know? Let's see, let's have some chocolate to get. I don't know. But typically, like people are buying chocolate to satisfy a sweet tooth. That's when you know you're just [00:32:00] getting the, the sugar thingy. But when it's something else that's about a, a flavor experience, it's, it's a whole different thing and you don't get the guilt feeling either.

Riley: So it's, so this craft chocolate, if someone doesn't have dark chocolate in their area, what would you tell them to look out for in the store when they're trying to select real high quality chocolate?

Gila: uh, particularly like no vanilla, unless it looks like, you know, it's some small boutique manufacturer and it has some kind of. Uh, flavor, um, you know, not just a single origin bar, but it's, you know, I don't know, some spices and something, and they also put vanilla. Then, you know, the vanilla has a justification.

But if it's just a dark chocolate and you see vanilla, I'd say, you know, duh, move on. You know, find something that doesn't have vanilla. If you wanna experience the taste of the cacao, and then I'd say ingredients like short list of [00:33:00] ingredients, right? Nothing that your grandma doesn't know, and, uh, nothing that has sugar as the first ingredient, unless you know, again, if it's a small boutique company and one of their flavors just.

You know, it was a really sweet one and they put sugar first. Okay. You know, I personally don't go for those ones, . Cause I prefer, you know, minimize sugar. But, yeah, I'd say that, 

Riley: Does that translate into cost typically, like. , the higher quality ingredients, the higher, the lower the sugar, the less vanilla. All that's gonna translate into a higher cost bar. Is that correct?

Gila: Well, vanilla aside cuz in vanillas you probably know you, there are different, uh, qualities of vanilla. Um, I'd say what's translated mainly even more than the ingredients is the labor.

Riley: Okay.

Gila: Um, so a small company, any small business, right? It's like less machine, less [00:34:00] automation. A less, uh, manpower, right? So, not to mention not cheap labor.

So that translates into cost. And of course, companies who buy tons of cacao, like tons and tons and tons of cacao a year, a month, they're getting a price that is different than I get. Uh, the difference is not, uh, Enormous like in some other sections. But yeah, so also the price of the cacao is translating

Riley: I'm really glad you said that about the labor aspect of things, because I think it's important for people to remember that when they're, when they're going to purchase a product, Like this, Like if they're getting a really specialty product, it all comes in it, like the labor, the, the actual quality of ingredients that all factors in.

And if you're making a really high quality product and you have two employees, , you know, you're working really hard to make that for them. And so that translates [00:35:00] into what they're paying for it.

Gila: Yeah, definitely 

Riley: guys started, did you start selling at farmer's markets? How did you start selling your product?

And then how did you grow it into selling it into chain stores?

Gila: I don't think we started with Farmer's Market. I think just like in this past two years, we've kind of been hand cherry picking particular mar farmer markets or like holiday markets that. We feel that we wanna participate in, but that has not been our big thing. Finding coffee shops, stores, Marzick's Fine Foods, if you guys are familiar with them.

In Denver, they're opening a third store in, I think Westminster now. They were like our first little grocery store and they still carry dire chocolate. To remember. What we did just, I mean, we, we were the sales people too, and we kind of still are. And I think the passion that we [00:36:00] bring is really important for that.

What it was, it was the cafes, you know, driving into the mountains, finding the small special, specialty stores, Of course online, but we've never been like really strong with our online, uh, presence and, uh, push, I'd say whatever you wanna call that. I think, but the, one of the, the big things for us were, when Whole Foods reached out to us, that was, uh, they were, they wanted a local chocolate, the Rocky Mountain region.

They wanted a local one and they reached out to us. And that's been a really good partnership with Whole Foods. Yeah, so. It's just, you know, another store and another one and another one. And, but today, um, we also work with a broker. So we're in, uh, central markets stores. They have seven or eight in Texas.

We're in Market of Choice out in [00:37:00] Oregon. Also, they have several stores. Um, Pharmaca Pharmaca was one of our first, uh, clients as well.

Riley: That's not a boulder, isn't it?

Gila: They're out of Boulder, but they have, they're like in six or seven different states.

Yeah, there was a point in time where we, uh, started infusing our chocolate with C B D.

We started another brand, and those were two years until Covid hit. That's, I don't know what that did to the. C b D market or whatever happened to C B D, but there was some time that infusing our chocolate with C B D was also like really attractive for many cafes, wine stores, places like that.

Riley: Mm-hmm.

Gila: Yeah. So that's, that's how we grew.

Riley: That's awesome.

Roni: Well, we know that you have a new product that you guys have been developing for the last few months, related to your passion for art, right? So why don't you tell us a little bit about art bars.

Gila: Right, So our passion for art. like as I said, [00:38:00] chocolate. We met chocolate in Costa Rica. But before that, my husband was a film producer and I was an editorial illustrator for many years. And we come from the visual arts. And so, um, we always had this affinity, like through the packaging we, we coined the term Bloom art, which is a beautiful occurrence in Untempered chocolate, a visual occurrence.

And a few months ago, we, I'd say through this fantastic marketing seminar that Roni and I did together, just like the connection between the chocolate and the art, which is such a part of our being all fell into place and we, we decided to put the art on the outside of the bars and that the art should be, people and, and it should be rotating.

It should be like an exhibit, not just, you [00:39:00] know, pretty bars, but to have something beyond just the beauty, which is very important. But to have that added value, kind of like a, it has a social impact to it because it, it has two parts to it. One is the connection with the artists. These are all artists. You know, no one's super famous, doesn't need us anyways, right?

Maybe they will, um, . But artists whose artwork we really love, we think it's inspiring and beautiful and for them to be seen on these bars that are in all these different places. In different states on the sh you know, an exhibit on the shelves and Whole Foods, like these are artists who, for them this is, uh, exciting.

And also people can, uh, through the inside, in the inside of the bar, there's a QR code. People can scan that QR code and learn more about the artist. They can buy a, a museum, grade print of the artwork, and the proceeds will go to the artist. Super, super lucky people get a golden [00:40:00] ticket and then they get a free, uh, museum grade print.

so that's the side of the artist and then the side of, uh, art lovers who are just exposed to art and artists who otherwise they probably wouldn't meet or not necessarily meet. Right. So they're exposed to that in a, in a space I'd say that, uh, is, uh, less expected. Right. It's, you know, we're bringing the museum.

To the people in opposed to the people going to the museum or, you know, another, another kind of museum. So, it's, connecting artists and art lovers through artisan chocolate.

Riley: So how do, how did you connect with these artists? Do they apply? Did you find them and contact them yourself? What is the process?

Gila: So this is, we just started this, right? So this first round it's Local artists, a few local artists whose work we saw either, you know, like on the first Friday on Santa Fe or mural that we saw and we're [00:41:00] like, Wow, we love this. You know, we gotta find this person. we have, uh, five local artists.

Um, and then there's just one of my personal works because I was an editorial illustrator and it just felt like so perfect for the chocolate. One of my works, um, an artist too is a friend of ours from Israel, from like, you know, our origin. There's an artwork by my sister who is an artist in California, so that's, you know, kind of makes up our, uh, first there's an artist from Boulder as.

Um, and that makes up our first. Uh, collection. And then, the next one. So there are some more local artists who we, you know, we see a work and we're just, Oh, you know, that's really nice. Let's connect. And every artist, it's really important for us to meet them, have a conversation. Uh, we were at a trade show in New York and this young woman, an artist.

Walked up to us and she said, she just took her phone, showed me one of her work. She said, Look, I think this would be great on the bars, you [00:42:00] know, and you know, we saw, I said, Oh my God, that's perfect for the hibiscus bar and. And then, uh, I did a demo for the team at Whole Foods once, and two of the people who worked there came up to me and they're like, can I show you my artwork?

You know, so, so people are, you know, they, the artists, they're feeling that this is a cool, a cool avenue to, to show their work. I'm sure there, I'm sure I know because that's a plan. Um, a little more down the line, you know, we'll put up a, a, a notice for artists to apply and, uh, however, we can't take any artwork.

Uh, we do have a small committee that we, uh, advise with to make final choices.

Riley: Uh, that's really neat. I think the process of, I don't know, getting your art in front of more people's faces I think is a really neat thing about this. And it's an avenue that is, Unexplored . You know, it's not a mural, it's not [00:43:00] in a, it's not in a museum, it's not on a website. It's, you know, someone's gonna walk past it in Whole Foods and look and think, Oh my goodness, that is so beautiful.

And you just, you just connected with somebody else who would, may have never seen your art before. So I think it's a really neat avenue, and I think that's why it's catching on with artists so quickly because it's about getting that in front of more people's faces in a really unique.

Gila: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we all, we all really wanna be seen and we wanna be seen with the things that we're passionate about.

Riley: Mm-hmm.

Gila: Yeah.

Riley: The fun thing about a chocolate bar is that you buy it and then you touch it and you take the wrapper off and then you see the cute, like you interact with it a little bit more than you would in a normal circumstance too. So that's a, a bit more like, you know, tasting fancy chocolate. It's all of your senses are starting to be engaged with this art and with the chocolate

Gila: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We say, you know, take your time. Indulgent. It's not just the flavor, it's the whole experience.

Riley: Where can people find art bars? Um, and can they buy them online [00:44:00] if they're listening to this episode and really wanna buy one?

Gila: Yeah. Well first of all, online at, right? So dare without a ca, like dark chocolate, but no k, right? Dot Also, if you do, uh, Dar Art bars. But anyways, and then all whole food stores in the Rocky Mountain region. Um, just now we're starting to get the art bars in there because that's a process in itself.

Getting a new look into a big, uh, chain like that, it's slowly right, But they're coming so, you know, uh, they can be seen there. So when you see, when anyone sees, uh, the really pretty bars, yeah, they arrived Um, yeah, and also like our, the, there are new customers, like new store, uh, wholesale customers that are, we keep, uh, um, connecting with.

So those are getting already the new art bars. So I'd say, you know, they're starting to trickle in.

Riley: [00:45:00] Awesome. And just so people know, Dar is your last name, right? And that's where your name of your chocolate comes from.

Gila: Right. So something about the name, Uh, so Dar the origin of the name is, it's a Yemen last name and it means house. So house of chocolate, right? Um, in Polish, dar means gift, and in Spanish, dar means to give. And in Hebrew, dar means to dwell or Mother of Pearl. So it has all. Really lovely meanings that connect to chocolate really

Riley: And all of them are good

Roni: Mm-hmm.

Riley: I


Roni: beautiful. I like that it's, uh, when you, when the first thing you said, when you said that it means house is, you know, you've talked about like the, the way that the nuances of chocolate are similar to the nuances of wine. And a lot of times, particularly when you go to a European country, like everybody in their house, they have like their special [00:46:00] like house wine, right?

Like you go to their house and they're like, This is our favorite wine. This is what we eat with, or this is what we drink with dinner every night or whatever. And. You could kind of view Dar chocolate as that way. It's like this is the special chocolate that we eat at our house as like an after dinner, you know, a special treat or something.

I don't know. Uh, that was just the first thing that I connected with it on that

Gila: Oh yeah, yeah, totally. It's, it's a special, a special treat. It's a, it's a gift and it's house chocolate and, and it's, uh, something to give

Roni: Yeah.

Riley: Yeah, that's, that's really special that it means so many good things in so many different languages. 

Roni: Well, we don't wanna take up your whole day today. Um, but was there anything that, uh, we missed that you wanted to talk about or mention or any other places that you wanted to talk about where people could get chocolate, the Dar chocolate, or anything like that?

Gila: I just, I don't have a list like at the top of my head of places, although, you know, people in the Denver Metro [00:47:00] area, Boulder. There are, there are many places, more of either high end grocery gift shops, wine, nice cafes where they can be found. But I did wanna mention two collaborations, local.

One of them is our 90% Dark Chocolate bar is a collaboration with Conscious Coffees who are a coffee roastery in Boulderer. A small boutique fantastic roastery. Um, I think their coffees can be found at Whole Foods as well. And then our cinnamon Enclove chocolate, which comes out in the holidays.

That's a, uh, kind of a collaboration, but we get our spices from savory Spice, who are also a local, you know, lovely spice shop. Um, originated in Boulder. So the local piece is really important for us as well as the artists, right? Same thing. [00:48:00] Yeah. Pretty soon, uh, we're gonna have, uh, in the Denver Art Museum, they're gonna have the, what is it?

The, their subscribers, their members. Members, they have like this special event for their members and before the holidays. So we're gonna have, uh, an event, uh, an event with them where people can come and, you know, see the art bars and talk with them, as well as having a few artists and their artworks and people can have, you know, conversation with them as well.

So, um, that's something that's coming up in November 

Roni: Well, that's great. Thanks again for joining us today. Um, I loved learning about chocolate and your story and all that. Stuff. So thanks,

Gila: Well, I look forward to seeing you guys. Uh, what did we say? November?

Riley: Uh, November 2nd, we actually get to go tour. Not to make anybody listening too jealous, but we do get to go tour, um, their kitchen down in Denver. So thank you for

the opportunity, 

Well, [00:49:00] thank you very much. We really appreciated chatting with you.

Gila: Yeah. Thank you guys so much.

Roni: We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please share it with someone and subscribe to our podcast. Wherever you listen to your podcasts.