“When we first started trying to purchase beans, when we called up the bean broker… we said, you know, we just want to buy one bag, two bags [of cocoa beans], and they kinda laughed and said ‘no one ever orders two bags of cocoa… I only have 11 customers. There’s only 11 companies in all of North America that buy cocoa beans.'”-David Castellan, Co-founder SoMA Chocolate
SoMA Chocolate Maker is one of the oldest small-batch chocolate makers in the world. In 2003, David Castellan co-founded the company with his partner, Cynthia, and they’ve been making great chocolate ever since. But as any chocolate maker can tell you, starting a chocolate factory from scratch is no easy task, and back in 2003 it seemed laughable to even think about. Yet they did it.
These days SoMA Chocolate Maker is seen as one of the founding members of the craft chocolate scene. From their factory in Toronto, Canada, David & I discuss his food industry background, the landscape of fine chocolate in the early 2000’s, and their process for developing new origins. I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation as much as I enjoyed having it.
Note that the topic of building his business & chocolate in David’s childhood plays heavily in my questions thanks to the podcast episode for which I was interviewing him.
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David with his partner Cynthia.
Topics We Cover
- David’s pastry & chocolatier background, and how he got into the craft chocolate industry before there WAS an industry
- His first encounter with cocoa liquor, as a child in Italy
- Defining what exactly they do at SoMA
- How the design of their new factory has been 15 years in the making, and what they’d do if they were to build a new chocolate maker’s factory today
- The two companies which were making small-batch chocolate when SoMA was starting out
- Their process for building a new single origin bar, from messing with roast profiles to designing new packaging
- How SoMA sources their cacao in 2019, and what a difference sixteen years in business has made
Connect With David & SoMA
SoMA Chocolate’s Website.
SoMA Chocolate on Instagram.
SoMA Chocolate on Facebook.
Connect With Chocolate On The Road
On Instagram: @chocolateontheroad
On Facebook: @chocolateontheroad
Show music is Roadtrip by Phil Reavis, and our transition music is We’re Gonna Be Around by People Like Us & Sweet Dreams by Lobo Loco.
To listen to the previous episode, click here.