The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Confectioners think globally in Fremont
By , Staff Reporter
Published: November 14 2012
After entering a nondescript factory building, the sweet, warm whiff of chocolate fills the air. Behind its doors is a wonderful, scrumptious world, and luckily not kept a secret like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Although amazingly delicious, Theo founder Joe Whinney wanted the chocolate to be “about the land, the people, the dedication and the interconnected relationships that bind us all.”
Theo chocolate comes from, “only the purest ingredients grown in the most sustainable ways possible. Everything Theo makes and sells meets the highest standards for organic, fair trade and Fair for Life,” Whinney said.
“Chocolate manufacturing is such a thoroughly creative, artistic process – even the smallest change in just one step along the way can have such an influence on that final flavor,” one of their tour guides said.
We’ve always viewed chocolate as a symbol of love and affection – giving chocolate to our loved ones for Valentines, anniversaries and birthdays, Theo strives to make their chocolate with the same ideals, by supporting their farmers and the Theo community.
According to their website, their work with farmer partners supports their ability to utilize sustainable growing practices that benefit both our fragile ecosystem and all of the people inhabiting our planet.
Promoting Fair Trade for the workers farming the beans and sustainability for the environment – Whinney championed organic cocoa in the U.S.
It all starts with the beans. Theo currently sources its beans from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Peru – commonly referred to as the “chocolate belt”.
The chocolate changes in every single batch and will never be the same twice because the beans change with the season.
Theobromine is the primary alkaloid found in cocoa and chocolate. “Theobroma cacao” is the name of the seeds from the chocolate tree, which are fermented to become the “chocolatey” flavor we know. So that’s where the name “Theo” originates.
Chocolate bars only need to be comprised of 10 percent cocoa. Heavily-processed chocolate contains little to no cocoa and has very little antioxidant activity left.
In contrast, Theo uses a high percentage of cocoa in their bars, which is good for your body, mind and taste buds.
From the classic Milk Chocolate Bar and the World Bicycle Relief Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar to the Everything but the Bagel (made with caraway, salt and pepper and other ingredients) and the zippy Ghost Chile Bar, every bite is a new adventure for your palette.
Even though the whole factory is filled with wafts of magical chocolate, the most magnificent and diverse scents that fill the air are in the Confection Kitchen. After completion, this is where everything is hand inspected and packed.
It is truly an art form. Making chocolate is “a journey from bean to bar.” It’s about the beans, but it’s also about the decisions we make here in Seattle and our knowledge and responsibility for our interconnected world.
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