The Somerville Chocolate CSA provides fresh, locally crafted “bean to bar” chocolate to CSA members in Somerville MA, its nearby suburbs, and beyond.
About the CSA
Modeled on the popular vegetable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) concept, the Somerville Chocolate CSA offers shares in its chocolate season. Each share owner then receives a portion of the chocolate harvest at periodic intervals throughout the season. These intervals are irregular but thus far have occured every one to two months. As of this update (April, 2013) the CSA is seven harvests into its first season. For season #1 each harvest consists of three 100 gram (3 1/2oz) chocolate bars. Chocolate is picked up by members at one of several locations in Somerville. The cost of a share for season #1 is $150. Late enrollers pay a pro-rated cost that reflects the actual amount of chocolate received.
The broader goal of the CSA is to use the multiple-bar harvests as a means of involving people in the experimental nature of chocolate making and more specifically the role that the various steps in the process play in developing the final flavor, look and consistency of chocolate. Thus most (but not all) of the harvests feature three chocolate bars in which only one of the processes has been altered. The first harvest, for example, used a bean of a certain origin and roasted it three different ways. In all other respects these bars were the same. Subsequent weeks isolate other factors such as cocoa butter content, sugar content and type, refinement / conch time, alternate means of roasting, etc. Generally each week features beans from a new origin. In order to keep the process from becoming too analytical I am reserving several weeks for more random creations, blends, infusions and other surprises.
About the chocolate maker
I am a freelance architect who developed an extreme interest in chocolate making unexpectedly during a tour of a cacao plantation in Costa Rica in 2010. It goes without saying that I've always liked chocolate (an absurd statement, who doesn't like chocolate?). After making numerous calories of chocolate from bean I decided to expand the hobby, stop hogging all the fun, and involve other people in the process.
How to join
In order to register, please Download an enrollment form and return to me in some fashion – either by mail, scan / email, or just provide answers in the body of an email. Also include a payment of $150, either by check with the enrollment form or by paypal to email@example.com. Late enrollers will have the option of either receiving previous harvests, if still available, or prorating their share cost.
- Season #1 is ongoing and will conclude mid-summer of 2013. Season #2 will begin in September of 2013.
- There are currently two pickup locations: one at True Grounds Coffee House in Ball square, Somerville and the other here on my front porch near Union square in Somerville. Other pickup locations are an option if a sufficient concentration of members develops outside of the Cambridge / Somerville area to warrant it. I can hold onto chocolate for people upon request (vacations, etc..)
- Chocolate can be mailed to members for an additional 40$ for season #1. Chocolate is mailed using small flat rate US Priority Mail boxes. For summer weather reasons I can not guarantee that chocolate will not melt or lose temper in transit. To help offset this risk a bit I will wait to mail chocolate until any present or expected heat waves have passed.
- Some chocolate bars will also be available for purchase directly from me as I tend to over-produce. The Somerville Chocolate CSA is licensed to distribute wholesale within the state of Massachusetts (only) but is not yet doing so.
- Chocolate is made in my own licensed residential kitchen here in Somerville.
- The chocolate is NOT made in a nut free kitchen, as I do keep and eat nuts. Generally, however, I do not plan to include nuts in my chocolate. The equipment that I use for chocolate making has not been and will not be used for the processing of nuts. If nuts should ever happen to be included they will be added at the very end of the process during molding, and any molds / bowls / spoons that might have come in contact with nuts will of course be washed with detergent / rinsed / sterilized in the usual fashion.
- The chocolate is hand tempered and molded. As such, finish quality will not match that of mass produced chocolate bars.
- It is my intention to use organic / fair trade ingredients wherever possible. Note, however, that I do not have access to a wide variety of bean origins since most growers sell exclusively to large chocolate manufacturers. The company that I buy my cacao from is just about the only source in this country. The beans they sell are generally either organic / fair trade or seem to have some sort of story behind them that makes you feel like you're doing at least something right when you buy them. I'll do my best to give this background information for each harvest.
For more information please contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org