Chocolate has a way of enticing you. Eating it makes you feel good. It’s smooth texture upon your tongue taking you to another place, even for just a minute. Every. Single. Time. While I’m not big on sweets, I do like to enjoy quality organic dark chocolate every now and then, which is why I am super excited to come across this organic dark chocolate from Firefly Chocolate. Firefly Chocolate is the only company in Sonoma County that offers this rich bean-to-bar chocolate. Huh? I had never heard of such a thing.
This past January I attended a class called “The World of Chocolate” held at the Sebastopol Grange in Sebastopol, California. Put on by The Vital Alchemy, a local fermenters group, that hosts workshops every third Wednesday of the month. It’s free for anyone to attend with an optional donation. Who doesn’t love chocolate? I thought, yet curious to learn how this chocolate is achieved. I arrived early with my notebook in hand to ensure that I got a seat! I could see that when I arrived, the hall was already filling quickly.
The speaker for the night was Jonas Ketterle, founder and chocolate maker of Firefly Chocolate, who gave a brief background on how chocolate is produced.
Chocolate comes from cacao beans which are grown in large pods on the cacao tree native to South and Central America. Upon harvesting, the pods are cut open and the beans and white pulp, known as white cacao, are removed and prepared for fermentation and drying. As Jonas explained, this wet white pulp is put into wooden box, each box containing about 500 pounds of pulp and beans. The fermentation process begins within a twenty- four hour time frame from when the pod is picked from the tree and lasts approximately six days. Liquid from the pulp drains out of a hole at the bottom of the box and the pulp/bean mixture is turned over to ensure even fermentation. The beans are then sun dried for two weeks and then into burlap sacks where they will be ready for export. As stated on the Firefly website, the beans that Firefly acquires are roasted in their own factory in a commercial convection oven and then cooled by air flow, cracked open, and separated from the shell by a process called winnowing. From here the cacao nibs are run through a grinder where they are transformed into a liquid state and then tempered into bars ready for use.
After this brief description of the transformation process we got to the tasting! Firefly chocolate bars are vegan and free from gluten and soy, containing 85 percent cacao and the remainder being cocoa butter and sugar. There are six different Firefly varieties of bars, each containing a simple label and beautifully wrapped with an elegant gold sticker: Raw Almond and Sea Salt, Four Spice, Original, Spicy Chai, Limited Edition with Maca, and Orange and Rose Infused. My personal favorites are the Original, the Rose Chocolate, and the Limited Edition with Maca. This chocolate is amazing and I want everyone to try it. I sampled three flavors; Original, Limited Edition with Maca and the Orange and Rose bar.
Original: This version is slightly sour with hints of espresso and has a soft finish. It’s very good and is not sweet. It contains only three organic ingredients: coconut blossom sugar, cocoa butter, and cacao beans.
Orange and Rose: This one packs a punch of flavor. It’s intense and sneaks up on you. It’s like a delicate surprise in your mouth. If you enjoy the taste of rose you will like it.
Limited Edition with Maca: This flavor was by my far my favorite and very delicious. It had a dense and rich flavor with a hint of caramel and butterscotch. Maca is a root, usually found in powder form, which increases energy and helps to balance hormones.
You can buy Firefly chocolate at few places in Sebastopol including Community Market, Andy’s Produce Market, The Dhyanna Center, and the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market. You can also buy online at https://fireflychocolate.com/.
I hope you get a chance to try this delicious chocolate and we are so lucky to be living in an area where it is available.
Amy Thoennes is a Sonoma County native residing in Sebastopol. She works at Sunshine Coffee Roasters in Forestville as an Office Manager. Making art is her first passion. She also enjoy cooking, baking, health and wellness and has a love of learning. She recently started her own blog, Goodniss.com where she writes about topics involving Self Nourishment Through Food & Creativity. The featured photo of Jonas Ketterle, founder and chocolate maker of Firefly Chocolate, is by Karen Preuss.