Chocolate Purveyors 27- AJ Wentworth
Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with AJ Wentworth, Founder/Chocolate Maker of Chocolate Conspiracy.
Chocolate Conspiracy sources their cacao beans from the Agro-Industrial Cooperative Atalaya. The association is formed by 300 members who live in the margins of the rivers that make up the Ucayali region of Peru, 60% of the members are native to the Achaninka tribes and the rest are migrant settlers who plant many varieties of fruit. The members of the co-op are involved with all the aspects of the growing and harvesting of the cacao, in doing so we end up with a varietal blend of Forastero, Trinitario, and Criollo.
The cacao beans are certified organic, certified fair trade, and certified kosher. The cacao is also non-GMO, non-hybridized, and cultivated from a combination of old-growth cacao trees and new trees that have been planted to help maintain not only the forests but the livelihoods of the farmers and harvesters.
Do you remember your first experience with chocolate? What was it?
I am not sure I actually remember my first experience with chocolate.. it was most likely Nesquik Chocolate Milk. But I do remember the first time I ate a raw cacao bean. I was doing a kitchen apprenticeship at a raw retreat center called the Tree of Life. This German chef Gisela introduced me to the raw bean, and showed me the process of making chocolate by hand. At that moment I was hooked!
You have an interesting name "The Chocolate Conspiracy", what is behind the name?
I was listening to a lecture from Dr. Andrew Weil and he mentioned that the original meaning of the word Conspiracy was derived from french and latin which literally meant to "conspire" and "to breath together." This inspired me to have a name that brings people together with chocolate, and to conspire for something positive and not negative.
For someone trying Chocolate Conspiracy for the first time, what chocolate bar would you give them to try?
Our best seller is the Blackberry Ginger Bar. This is made with ginger oil and a blackberry balsamic vinegar. It has a softer texture and has a subtle sweet and tanginess to it.
You exclusively work with Agro-Industrial Cooperative Atalaya to source your cacao. What should chocoholics know about this co-op?
The best part about sourcing from this co-op is that all of the farmers own their own land, and they are also growing everything using organic practices. There is a central processing facility that ferments and dries the cacao. This way the farmers are getting paid higher wages, and the fermentation and drying is thorough and consistent.
What chocolate are you eating from other makers these days?
I love French chocolate. It is exactly opposite of what I am doing. Rich dark roasts, high cocoa butter content. I have been slowly eating my way through Chapon's bar selection.
You are one of the pioneers of the Utah Bean to Bar scene. What differentiates your chocolate bars?
The biggest difference is that I use raw cacao beans, and I use raw honey as a sweetener.
How can we all help promote craft chocolate?
I think it comes down to proper education about the bean to bar process. Once people learn more about it, they are willing to pay the cost and start to explore more brands.
How have you expanded your sustainability efforts into your packaging?
We have strived to reduce our impact as much as possible. We use biodegradable cello, our boxes are printed using eco-friendly inks. Our main line of bars we have moved to one piece of packaging. It is a pouch; the bar goes in and then it gets sealed. No extra stickers, foils, or fancy boxes.
Do you prefer a hot cup of coffee or chocolate in the morning?
Always chocolate. Morning, noon, or night.
What does the future hold for The Chocolate Conspiracy?
I think we are going to keep on keeping on. We love what we do! We are learning how to do it better. We will soon have an entire Chocolate Beer Bar Line.. which we are really looking forward to. We will be moving to a new larger facility beginning of 2021. This will give us more opportunities to do more custom projects and expand our reach nationally and internationally.
We want to thank AJ for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you learned more about AJ and Chocolate Conspiracy.
We featured their Blackberry Ginger Bar 73% bar in our Kekao August 2020 Box.
You can purchase their other bars directly at our online store.
From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you get inside the box!
Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars.
Have someone who you appreciate? It also makes as a great gift!
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate shop, it's a selection of what we have curated in our past boxes.
If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box, or premium specialty crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.