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Share the Love: Fair Trade Chocolate from Bean to Bar

When it comes to Valentines Day, we love jewelry, flowers and chocolate – especially fair trade chocolate. Last week, our new friends at Theo Chocolate surprised us with a box full of delicious Valentines Day treats. We simply had to ask them for more details! To share the love this Valentines Day, we are so excited to share the story behind Theo Chocolate

Theo Chocolate and Sheba Necklace

Theo chocolate is delicious – but we know there’s more to the story. Tell us a little about what makes Theo chocolate so special.

The headquarters of Theo Chocolate is in a refurbished warehouse in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle. Founded in 2006, Theo was the first organic, fair trade chocolate maker in the United States.

Theo chocolate is made from bean to bar right here at our factory in Seattle. We make our chocolate by hand, using artisanal techniques. We begin by cleaning, sorting and roasting beans. We then mill the chocolate to transform the cocoa solids into chocolate liquor and then liquid chocolate. Eventually we temper the chocolate, add flavors – everything from sea salt to curry powder – and mold it into bars.

We know every single person who helps us create this wonderful chocolate. And we know they are being treated fairly. We stand behind our chocolate.

Fair trade matters! At Valentines Day, one of our slogans is ‘Share the Love’. We believe the products you give to the people you love should harm no one.

Theo is committed to sourcing chocolate responsibly. Where is the cocoa that goes into Theo chocolate grown?

We source cocoa from farmers’ cooperatives in three countries: Panama, Peru and Democratic Republic of Congo. We carefully screen all our ingredients to make sure they meet standards for social and environmental responsibility.

Today more than half of our cocoa comes from DRC – but beginning to source cocoa from farmers in one of the most dangerous places in the world was a huge leap.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in natural resources, but has seen decades of war and violence. Beginning in 2010, we partnered with the Eastern Congo Initiative to help bring stability to communities in the region.

We have made a long-term, strategic commitment to partner with farmers and provide training on the ground. Our goal is to help farmers increase the value and quality of their crops. And let me tell you, Congolese cocoa is delicious!

How does fair trade cocoa farming make an impact?

When fair trade cocoa farmers earn a sustainable income, they can reinvest in their communities. And cocoa is often called a ‘militia proof crop’.

Cocoa has such a long journey: the beans are grown, picked by hand, fermented, roasted and then made into chocolate. They aren’t worth much to militias – so cocoa farming is an industry that hasn’t been abandoned. There have been times that farmers have been sleeping in refugee camps overnight and returning to farm during the day.

As our work as grown in DRC, farmers have been empowered to reinvest in their communities and the education of their children.

To make a bigger impact across East Africa, Theo has created a special bar with World Bicycle Relief. The bar is made with dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt. Proceeds from the sale of each bar help provide students, health care workers and entrepreneurs with specially made bicycles.

Theo Chocolate and Kalire Cuff

Theo is passionate about chocolate – and you love to share this passion with your community. Tell us more.

More than 50,000 people tour the Theo factory every year. Visitors see how we make chocolate from bean to bar. We source beans from Panama, Peru and Democratic Republic of Congo. But it’s once the beans arrive here in Seattle that the magic happens.

Inviting people in to our factory is a chance to share our story, our love of the environment, and our love for the farmers we work with. I love teaching people where their food comes from and why it matters.

At Theo, we believe everyone should have access to delicious fair trade chocolate!

Thanks Theo for sharing the love this Valentines Day! Are you looking for ways to bring more joy – and more social responsibility – into your life? We think fair trade chocolate (and, of course, fair trade jewelry) is a great place to start.