Is there anything better than chocolate? If you are a die-hard chocolate lover, you might think there isn’t anything better than a rich, creamy bite of chocolate. But how about if that rich, creamy, organic, all natural bite of chocolate is made by a company whose intent is “to change the way the cocoa industry does business” for the betterment of the world? This is the passion and mission of the people at Theo Chocolate, the first and only organic, Fair Trade chocolate factory in the United States. When you purchase Theo Chocolate, you can savor a delicious treat and know you are contributing to a company whose primary focus is providing a product of the highest quality while also keeping social and environmental responsibility at the forefront of all their business practices.
Joe Whinney, the founder of Theo Chocolate, had a dream of owning a chocolate factory in the United States that was organic and environmentally conscious. In his dealings with cacao growers in Central America and Africa, he was witness to the environmental impact of rainforest degradation and the resulting economic adversity. His vision was of a chocolate company where the concepts of “organic” and “Fair Trade” were not just stamped on the product packaging, but were integrated into the very fabric of the company. His idea came into being when he opened Theo Chocolate in 2006. Today, Theo Chocolate commits to running a green company in every aspect of the manufacturing process. The proof is in the company’s business practices, and beliefs that go from the bean to the store, so to speak.
Theo Chocolate begins by placing a high importance on using pure, sustainably grown products. Local products are used if possible. Theo Chocolate buys directly from farmers or growers, and goes beyond simply purchasing goods and supplies. Theo invests in the people and communities that provide for the company by giving back, in the form of helping farmers make a living wage and helping provide access to education for their families.
The mission toward a green company is furthered by using green energy sources to power the factory where Theo Chocolate produces their product. Theo Chocolate's factory is located in the old Red Hook building, in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, WA. To accomplish this, Theo Chocolate is part of Seattle’s “Green Up” program, where residential and business customers purchase green power for a portion of their electricity use. Even the packaging and printing used for Theo Chocolate’s products are sustainable!
But perhaps Theo Chocolate’s biggest and most well-known passion (besides making wonderful chocolate and caring about the planet) is educating people about what they do and how they do it. Theo provides highly popular tours of their factory where knowledgeable Theo tour guides educate visitors about the history of chocolate and the sustainable practices that are utilized. The importance of how this effects the factory, their customers, the farmers and growers that supply Theo is also emphasized. In addition to the tours, Theo also boasts a Harvard trained biochemist, Doc Choc, who has created an on-site laboratory at Theo, and “Chocolate University,” a 10-week course on the history and science of chocolate.
As you can see, Theo Chocolate provides something many companies can only strive for: a high quality, award-winning product, a completely green operation and a family atmosphere that is cultivated by a workforce passionate about their chocolate and their company. To see the magic in person, you can visit Fremont Street in Seattle and take the world famous tour of the factory to learn about the history of cocoa, the history and mission of Theo Chocolate, and, of course, sample the chocolate! For a company named after “the food of the gods,” you can be sure the experience will be a memorable one.