I’m Suzanne Forman, founder of Chocolate Riot. I was a long-time bodymind therapist when I first tasted bean-to-bar chocolate. The rich, complex flavor flooded my senses and woke me up. This wasn’t a sugar rush, this was a full-body mindfulness experience that brought me into the present moment and took me to an exotic destination simultaneously!
I entered the chocolate industry for that joy, dove in deeply when I learned that it touches on my most beloved social justice issues, and dedicated myself to learning how to create the highest-quality chocolate experience so that I could invite others to share the joy with me.
My search for the most flavorful and ethically-sourced cacao brought me to the Cahabón region of Guatemala, which is currently the source of all of the cacao used in Chocolate Riot.
Forest restoration and reforestation
Each of the twenty-three farmers who grow the cacao used in Chocolate Riot has about 2.5 acres of cacao that is intercropped with timber, madrecacao, and fruit trees. Most of this land was formerly used to grow the forest-damaging crops of corn and beans, so changing crops means that this gorgeous mountainous area is being reforested and revitalized.
Community and economic stabilization
The Cahabón farmers receive support and training on best farming practices from nonprofit organizations and the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture to get the highest-quality cacao, with the greatest yield, in the most eco-friendly way. While the farmers’ knowledge is state of the art, this tight-knit community sticks with some of their proven traditional farming practices. They work together during the harvest in a style similar to North American community barn raisings, they use traditional cascading wood boxes to ferment their cacao, and they sort the fermented and dried beans by hand.
These farmers, through their cooperative called ADIOESMAC, were the first in the region to export centrally-fermented cacao to the U.S. bean-to-bar market. Currently, farms are being passed on to the next generation, which means that cacao farming here is now a viable way to make a living. We happily pay far above the Fair Trade price for this delicious cacao, and we know that our customers support that decision.
Women-supporting business models
The ADIOESMAC is a gender-equal cooperative where women are encouraged to take on leadership roles. Some of these women have applied their expanding business knowledge to create and sell products made from beautiful, locally-made Guatemalan fabric.
Chocolate Riot is one of only two chocolate makers to have a product that exclusively uses these wondrous beans. We are proud to be in business with this community and the individuals in it.