|Industry||Food and Confectionery Manufacturers|
|Founders||Alex Whitmore, Kathleen Fulton, and Larry Slotnick|
|Headquarters||Somerville, Massachusetts, US|
|Products||Stone Ground Origin Bars, Amaze Bars, Chocolate Mexicano Discs, Chocolate Covered Treats, Tazitos Minibars, Baking Products|
Taza Chocolate is a Mexican-inspired stoneground, organic chocolate manufacturer based in Somerville, MA, USA. The factory was founded by Alex Whitmore in 2005 and is home to over 40 different products that can be found in 2,800 retail stores across the country.
Alex Whitmore founded Taza Chocolate in 2005 after a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico where he first encountered stone ground chocolate. He learned from a molinero in Oaxaca authentic Mexican techniques, such as how to grow cacao beans and how to hand-carve granite millstones. The first batch of Taza Chocolate was created in Whitmore’s kitchen, using simple and traditional Mexican processes with stone mills.
After building out a factory space in Somerville, Massachusetts in 2006, Whitmore acquired a mix of traditional and vintage machinery, including stone mills from Oaxaca, an Italian winnower from Dominican Republic, and a Barth Sirocco roaster from Italy. The cacao beans were initially bought from brokers, but Whitmore later traveled through Central and South America and the Caribbean in search of farmers who could work directly with him. Whitmore and his co-founder and wife, Kathleen Fulton, have maintained a Direct Trade relationship with every cacao grower from where they source the cacao beans.
Taza Chocolate is sold across the United States and in certain countries abroad.
Direct Trade Process
Taza Chocolate uses Certified USDA Organic, non-GMO cacao that grow directly from the trunk and branches of cacao tree. These are located in the ‘Cocoa Belt,’ a range of land 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Most of this cacao comes from the Dominican Republic, Belize, and Bolivia. During the harvest, farmers cut the pods from the tree and collect them in pules where they are cracked open and the beans and fruit removed. After being removed from the forest, cacao beans go through a fermentation process. The mass of beans and fruit is packed in large wooden boxes arranged in three levels and last over six to seven days to ferment. The beans start fermenting on the top level, and after two days, the contents are agitated and transferred to the second level. The process finishes when the cacao reaches the ground level, or when acidity and residual sugars have reached desired levels. After being fermented, the beans go through a process of drying that takes up to eight days. Within this process, the beans are spread out to dry on large wooden decks, which helps excess moisture and undesired acids evaporate. Once dry, the beans are then packed into sacks and shipped to the Taza Chocolate factory.
Once the cacao beans reach the factory, they are taken to the roasting room, where the beans are lightly roasted at approximately 235 °F. In this stage, the beans are dried, they loose their shells and they start developing flavor. The winnowing machine separates the shell, or chaff, from the cacao nib. This is achieved by breaking the roasted cacao beans while a ventilator draws the less dense shell away leaving the cacao nibs behind. The nibs are ground in Molinos, Mexican stone mills from Oaxaca, Mexico. The millstones in the Molinos turn the cacao nibs into a graniy paste called cocoa liquor. The cacao liquor is transferred from the Molinos into a mixing tank where it is combined with cane sugar and any other flavor.
The last stage is tempering, which refers to the precise raising, lowering, and raising of the temperature of liquid chocolate. The tempering machine heats and cools the chocolate to create a specific crystal structure, ensuring that the chocolate has a higher melting point. The tempered chocolate is pumped into depositors which doses it into moulds. These are then placed onto a vibratory table to evenly distribute the chocolate, remove air bubbles, and be conveyed to a cooling room to solidify.
Once solid, Taza Chocolates are wrapped and packed into recyclable boxes that are then shipped around the country.
Taza sells a variety of chocolates in bars and discs, including:
The Amaze Bars: Stone ground chocolate combined with other flavors
- Wicked Dark
- Cacao Nib Crunch
- Coco Besos Coconut
- Raspberry Nib Crunch
- Sea Salt Almond
- Toffee, Almond & Sea Salt
Chocolate Covered Treats: Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and cacao nibs covered in stone ground dark chocolate
Gifts and Collections: Packaged gifts
- Oaxacan Sampler
- Chocolate Mexicano Sampler
- Chocolate Mexicano Classic Collection
- Spiked Eggnog
Chocolate Mexicano Discs: Rustic, organic dark Mexican style chocolate discs
- Cacao Puro
- 85% Super Dark
- Chipotle Chili
- Guajillo Chili
- Salted Almond
Origin Bars: Minimally processed stone ground bar
- 60% Dark Dominican Republic
- 70% Dark Dominican Republic
- 77% Dark Belize
- 80% Dark Dominican Republic
- 87% Dark Bolivia
Tazito Minibars: Crispy brown rice paired with 65% dark chocolate
- Almond Crunch
- Coconut Crunch
- Crispy Crunch
- Hazelnut Crunch
Awards and honors
- "Best Chocolate Shops in New England" by Yankee Magazine in 2009
- "Best Indulgence" by Yankee Magazine in 2012
- "New England's Finest: in Good Taste" by Yankee Magazine in 2012
- "Boston's Best Local Secrets 2012" by Yankee Magazine in 2012
- "2014 Editor's Choice Food Awards" by Yankee Magazine in 2014
- "Best Neighborhood Diversion Union Square" by Best of Boston in 2014
- "Best of the Week" by Best of Boston in November 2015
- "Superior Chocolatier (Four Star Awards)" in Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America Awards
- Winner of "Bars-Rough Ground Dark plain/origin bars" category in the 2014 Americas Semi Final by the International Chocolate Awards
- Ailworth, Erin. "Taza Chocolate focuses on quality amid growth". bostonglobe.com. The Boston Globe.
- Luna, Taryn. "Seven Things You Should Know About Alex Whitmore". bostonglobe.com. The Boston Globe.
- "The Taza Chocolate Story". tazachocolate.com. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
- "The Emily Rooney Show". WGBH. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
- "Perfectly Unrefined, Handcrafted Chocolate". tazachocolate.com. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
- "Taza Chocolate – U.S.A.". Chocosphere. Retrieved August 16, 2012.