Dame Cacao is a global resource for passionate chocolate lovers looking for the best chocolate & experiences around the world.
My name is Max, and I'm so very flattered that you stopped by! This site & my entire life are dedicated to crafting a sustainable and delicious world by changing the way we eat & understand chocolate. As Dame Cacao, I dive into the global identity of chocolate; how it's made, where to find it, and why it's just so darn good.
Recently, I finished up three years working as an English teacher in rural South Korea. Sometimes I wrote about life there, and tips I gather from my trips around the world. But it wasn't life in Korea that inspired my love of chocolate & cacao. It was a chocolate tasting I attended when I was sixteen.
There I learned that you can be a part of changing the system, without completely changing your life. ...Though I did kind of change my life after that. This site is part of my efforts to connect you to quality chocolate and the people who produce it, as well as to the world around us.
If you love chocolate and travel, then welcome! You'll feel right at home here.
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The Origin Story
I am fascinated by chocolate. It's my daily ritual, my comfort food, and probably yours, too. Dame cacao ("give me cacao" in Spanish) is the original meaning of the site's name.
It was formulated to represent my desire to teach people about cacao— the raw material of chocolate— at the same time as I talk about the mechanics & tasting of chocolate.
Learning about cacao and its impact is what got me started with my whole chocolate lifestyle.
Yet despite all the tasting over the years, it was only in early 2015, at the persistent urging of a chocolate-obsessed friend, that I started Dame Cacao. It was to be a platform for my thoughts while working in Latin America & to review all the craft chocolate bars I could get my eager hands on.
The site and the 8-month trip came to fruition after years of tasting a few bars a week using whatever cash I could spare from my student budget. I think those first bars are still some of the best chocolates I've ever had.
But that solo exploration also brought about a bad case of wanderlust, the same one that's taken over so many millennials' lives, albeit with a bit of a twist. Chocolate even brought me to Asia, and specifically to South Korea, in a roundabout way.
It's my absolute pleasure to be able to share chocolate cultures from such unexpected parts of the world.
Eat Better Chocolate; Change the World
Over the years, I've interned with a professional chocolatier, worked on a coffee & cacao plantation, and guided tours in a chocolate museum.
I became a certified chocolate maker through Ecole Chocolat, and a member of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. I've been tasting craft chocolate for well over a decade now, building both a knowledge base and a solid community of human resources. During my searches for the best chocolates, I feel blessed to also be able to fulfill my thirst for travel.
My goal is to see to it that anyone can find a bite of chocolate on any trip, even if that's just a trip down the road. I believe that cacao farmers should have access to the same freedoms as I have, and still choose the cacao.
As chocolate people, their careers should be as dynamic and interesting as mine, and to do that, I need to convince you to spend more money on chocolate. But not just any chocolate; only the best chocolate. I'll even tell you why & where to find it, and who's behind making it— every step of the way.
Beyond the bar reviews and chocolate making experiments, on Dame Cacao you'll find insight into the industry, chocolate travel guides, and highlights of unique chocolate experiences. Consider it chocolate around the world, at your leisure.
Whether you're a chocolate lover, traveler, or world changer, there's something in this community for you. Feel free to join me on any part of my journey, as I travel slowly & experience life. Connect with me on social media. Ask for a bar recommendation, why don't you?
And remember, wherever you go, chocolate is never too far away.
A Few Fun Facts
- I've tried over 1,000 *different* chocolate bars in my life, most of which have been bean to bar chocolate creations (once upon a time I even posted 300+ reviews of said bars on this site).
- For 3 years I taught English in rural South Korea, and spent my vacations traveling around the region. By the time I was 24, I'd been to 32 countries!
- I've interviewed dozens of chocolate makers and chocolatiers from as many countries over the last several years, all of which you can hear about on my podcast.
- Over the years I've worked in most every area of the chocolate industry, from interning in a strip mall chocolate factory to spending three months working on a cacao farm in Ecuador.
Some Favorite Posts
The best way to contact me is by leaving a comment on a post, but if you'd like to converse regarding professional matters, please email me at max[@]damecacao.com. Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by me or from free-use sites, and cannot be reproduced without permission.