They say that all good things must eventually come to an end. After years of making award-winning bean-to-bar chocolates, we must bid farewell to Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. The decision to discontinue the Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker line wasn’t one that we made lightly. Creating chocolate from bean-to-bar requires a lot of time, energy, and resources. With over 250 other extraordinary chocolates to craft and sell each year, it was time to refocus our energies.
What started as a passion project, to connect directly with cacao farmers and explore more sustainable sources of cacao, has impacted the entire future of Lake Champlain Chocolates. We will continue to support Cacao Verapaz (of which LCC is a founding member), which helps producers create more sustainable cacao farms, while also connecting producers of fine cacao in Guatemala with specialty chocolate makers. We are also excited to be working more with Fair Trade USA, a global movement that puts people and the planet first, and our new B Corp Certification, which focuses on using business as a force for good.
Read below to learn more about how Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker helped us further our chocolate making expertise and develop our depth of sourcing knowledge.
Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker
Here in Vermont, we took the craftsman’s approach and make award-winning chocolate from bean to bar. Our chocolate makers enjoyed traveling the world in search of the highest-quality cacao beans available while building lasting relationships with each and every cacao farmer along the way. The direct-trade beans they selected make the journey to our factory on the shores of Lake Champlain where they were artfully transformed into chocolate, one small batch at a time.
It all began in 2009, when Eric Lampman (now President of Lake Champlain Chocolates) took a trip to the Dominican Republic. There he experienced first-hand how cacao was cultivated, harvested, fermented, and dried. Fascinated, he brought some beans back to Vermont and started experimenting with small test roasts. Through trial and error, and plenty of research, he taught himself how to winnow, refine, and conche – discovering how to make chocolate from scratch.
Raising the Bar
This work brought to life our desire to increase traceability and develop a deeper understanding of the cocoa supply chain. It allowed us to forge direct-trade partnerships with growers and co-ops and to improve cocoa quality by reinvesting in training and education at origin. The full-line of bean-to-bar chocolates captured the distinctive terroir – or taste of place – of the land where the cacao was grown, while at the same time strengthening direct farmer relationships.
From Local to Global
Since 1983, cultivating partnerships with local producers has been part of the Lake Champlain Chocolates DNA. This initiative allowed us to do this on a global level – building direct partnerships with a number of smaller farmer associations and single large estates on the ground in the Eco-Region Lachua of Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Our interest in sourcing great aromatic and flavorful cacao sparked a greater supply chain development – where farmers have a more stable demand, at a higher price, for the quality of cacao that they are providing.
Building a Sustainable Supply Chain
Lake Champlain Chocolates is proud to be a founding partner of Cacao Verapaz, an organization that works with farmers to purchase premium cacao, provide technical assistance, and helps to connect their products to premium bean to bar chocolate makers throughout the world. Having a direct feedback loop with growers and associations not only makes a huge difference in the end product, but also helps to bring positive social and environmental impacts to these farming communities.
Award-winning Craft Chocolate
Blending a passion for craftsmanship and pursuit of the extraordinary, with the drive for transparency, has lead to some pretty incredible chocolates. A few short months after the first bars hit the shelves in 2013, the 82% Madagascar and 82% Madagascar Wild Pepper chocolate bars won two Good Food Awards. The Good Food Awards recognize truly good food is not only tasty, authentic, and responsibly produced, but it pushes its industry towards craftsmanship and sustainability, while enhancing the agricultural landscape and building strong communities along the way.
Making a Difference
We journeyed across the world in search of exceptional fine flavored cacao — to make craft chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and roasted cacao nibs from four different regions. Incorporating direct-trade, house-roasted cacao nibs in our mocha chocolate bar and Chocolate Caramel Five Star Bar® allowed us to continue to nurture the amazing partnerships we have with cacao farmers, while also helping to build more sustainable cacao-growing communities!