If you’ve ever wondered what was meant by the word “artisanal,” a look at the creations of Tavernier Chocolates of Brattleboro, Vermont, can provide the definition. Everything that this chocolate maker makes is a work of art. The artistry is found in the way the chocolate looks and what goes into each creation. Founders Dar Tavernier-Singer and her husband, John Singer, combine “food, science and place” as Taveneir-Singer explains, in the making of their chocolates.  

               Tavernier-Singer explains further, “Place means to us the understanding that chocolates from different origins have different flavor profiles. We use many different chocolates from regions in South and Central America.”  

        Place also has significance in their chocolates because they are dedicated to using local foragers, growers and producers.  

        The results?  

        “Adventurous flavor combinations,” says Tavernier-Singer.   

        Tavernier-Singer’s background informs where she is today as a self-taught chocolatier. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology, with minors in art and French. She has also worked as a chemist.

        Her husband has years of experience in coffee roasting and leading small businesses.   

        “He’s an amazing human with a great palate and business mind,” Tavernier-Singer adds.  

        But it’s more than just their backgrounds that have made their company a success — it’s their hard work and dedication to their craft.  

        Not surprisingly, Tavernier-Singer is inspired by farmers.  

        “They are the hardest workers I know who are at the mercy of the environment and weather,” she notes.

        So, what exactly is in Tavernier chocolates? It’d be impossible to list everything … hence, the adventure. You never know what you’ll find in these chocolates. These chocolatiers are like alchemists, transforming things for the better. Through experimentation and exploration driven by a passion for creating unique flavors, they offer something new for your taste buds to savor. You may find in some of their chocolates very unusual ingredients, such as wine; chanterelle, chaga or black trumpet mushrooms; ramps, Gilfeather turnips, sage, beets, fermented black garlic, wild rose hips or black locust blossoms.  

        “I find it exciting to use non-traditional ingredients and flavors in chocolate. It’s a sense of discovery and adventure to try new combinations,” says Tavernier-Singer. “Most people are game to try something that involves chocolate, even with crazy ingredients, so they’re willing to go on this adventure with you.”

               Another important part of their ethos is a commitment to being fair to cacao growers. The couple doesn’t just import chocolate; they connect with their suppliers. For example, Tavernier-Singer recently traveled to Ecuador to visit fairly-traded origin-made cacao growers. (“Origin-made” means the cacao plant is grown and processed by the people of the country where the plant grows.) At the moment, Tavernier uses origin-made chocolate from the Dominican Republic, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

        Tavernier also wants to be an ecologically good producer, so they follow sustainability practices. They do not use plastic packaging. Their boxes, 100% recycled boxboard, are recyclable. They use 100% recycled paper. Their cellophane bags are fully biodegradable and compostable; the labels are recyclable. At Tavernier Chocolates’ kitchen, all waste is composted or recycled.  

               In this business, maintaining a commitment to being environmentally conscious is just one challenge. Another challenge is that the business’ main ingredient is temperamental and costly, explains Tarvernier-Singer. “We are using top quality, fairly-traded chocolate, so mistakes are expensive!”  

        But since they make one of humankind’s most favorite thing to eat, it has its joys too.  

        “Chocolate makes people happy,” says Tavernier-Singer.  

        Learn more at www.tavernierchocolates.com.

Peg Lopata writes from Brattleboro, Vermont.