ABM Tours the Askinosie Chocolate Factory

ABM askinosie tourTrufflesRecently the A Beautiful Mess staff was invited on a private tour of the Askinosie Chocolate factory. I was particularly excited, because: 1.) I knew we would get to sample lots of amazing chocolate (!!!!!) and 2.) I really wanted Elsie to meet Shawn (the owner). He is such an inspiring business owner. Let me explain.FlavorsTouring askinosieShawn askinosieShawn Askinosie and his family are creators of Askinosie Chocolate. Elsie and I are suckers for small family businesses (I wonder why?). When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Shawn who was handing out dark chocolate and lavender truffles to everyone. He explained he had a business trip to Italy later that week where he would be showing off these truffles, so he needed to practice making them. They were AMAZING. He had our undivided attention after that. :)Askinosie_chocolateAskinosie_tourAskinosie_chocolate processAskinosie_elsieHe gave us a tour of their small factory, located just down the street from our local shop. We got to see first hand the process of cocoa beans becoming chocolate. It is a fascinating process. Certain parts almost reminded me of coffee, having similar flavors and smells. We got to sample chocolate in various stages and even watch the molding process.Askinosie_barsAskinosieAskinosie_packagingChocolate barsFor me, learning about how a food is made is always fascinating. I LOVE knowing the science behind how bread rises or why brewing coffee works. So to see chocolate being made from scratch was a dream come true. But even more impressive than watching chocolate being born was hearing Shawn's story and the passion in his voice for the business. Askinosie_toursBefore Shawn was a chocolate maker, he was a successful lawyer. But along the way he got really into cooking and making chocolate desserts (like cupcakes!). The idea came to him to make chocolate from scratch, so, well, he did. As he learned more and more about how chocolate was made, he became more and more passionate about chocolate. Just like that, he decided to change careers and follow his passion. Askinosie_hopeNot only is Askinosie chocolate amazingly delicious, it is also ethically made. Shawn flies all over the world meeting and working directly with cocoa farmers making it possibly to eliminate the need for layers and layers of brokers and middle men (and their fees). This ensures farmers are paid a fair wage for their work and that proper conditions are being upheld (like not using slave labor on farms). As you can imagine, all that travel, expense and language/cultural barriers makes this process difficult. But that's how they do it at Askinosie, and our hats are off to them! Shawn said he is constantly finding ways for his small business to do good and help others. Throughout the tour Shawn would explain little things here and there that showed his passion for others. It was inspiring. I think Elsie and I both teared up a couple times. It's hard to face someone with that kind of commitment and passion and not feel inspired. Askinosie_buildingAll of us at ABM want to say thank you to Shawn and his team for inviting us in, giving us chocolate and inspiring us with their story. You can read more about their journey here. And if you have any dark chocolate lovers in your family, I highly recommend checking out their online shop. :) xo. Emma

*All photos by Alec Vanderboom

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