About Joy Chocolates

There's more going on here than you may think

The Future of Cacao is in jeopardy!!!

A little something new to spread the word on with regards to chocolate.  For those of you who haven't heard, the future of cacao is in jeopardy! 

Africa currently produces about 70% of the world's cacao and due to climate change and out of control cacao diseases, the cacao harvests over the past year or so have really been struggling...they're now producing about half as much cacao as they've been doing previously.  If you've managed to see this coming and invest in cacao futures, good for you...its definitely paying off.  But that increase in value is suffocating a lot of craft bean to bar chocolate manufacturers as the largest candy companies in the world are moving into the smaller cacao markets, buying up all the cacao, driving up prices and putting the little craft bean to bar chocolate makers out of business.

Lucky for Joy Chocolates, we're new enough and small enough to survive this, simply because we don't really have the overhead costs that a lot of chocolate makers have.  Lucky is an understatement, being that I've spent the last six months or so looking for my future storefront in Cut Bank.  However, a lot the folks I've met while networking in chocolates have gone under because of these skyrocketing prices.  This is sad...and is actually removing joy from the world in favor of cooperate indifference and poor business practices.  What I mean by this is that corporations don't care who they hurt and that includes allowing their farms to get away with slave labor for so long and not take pre-emptive step in preserving their African farms in light of the encroaching environmental changes.  Not to mention the cultures and practices they'll likely be incubating in Central America (where I am currently sourcing my beans).  This damage may be irreversible.

You may have noticed the prices of chocolate bars have been creeping up at the grocery store.  This is only the beginning.  The days of cheap chocolate are officially over.  I'm not supporting the overhead that a lot of my competition is, so my prices are still pretty inexpensive comparatively, but it is still pretty expensive when compared to most cheap chocolate at the grocery store.  The way we fix this is that the world needs to stop buying the cheap stuff on the impulse rack.  Head over to the isles and pick up some Hu's or Tony's or the smaller-ish regional chocolate makers in your area.  The rest of them, the big corporations need to have a reason to discontinue their chocolates, they have to be left as minimally profitable (or preferably un profitable in light of their existing overhead)  so that they opt out of the chocolate markets.  

We need to do this because we have to reclaim the joy that chocolates bring to everyone, it can't just be for the insanely wealthy, it needs to be for everyone...because that's what heroes do.

A lil about me and Joy Chocolates...

We've moved to Cut Bank, Montana!  

Joy Chocolates started in Houston, TX in 2019, but never really got rolling. During the COVID years, we decided to take a little break and spread a little joy after we've regrouped in Montana!  

My name is Ian Karle, I grew up in the Pennsylvania (aka "The Land of Chocolate") where I studied at Penn State University to become an engineer.  After school, I kicked around the automotive, medical device manufacturing, and oil and gas fields for the following twenty (plus) years...ranging in scope from design, to process engineering, research & development, and ultimately landing in quality...are you still awake?  Long story short, the daily grind in industry wasn't catering to an overall blissful existence...but I learned a lot of interesting things.

Then one day, a simple yet inalienable truth occurred to me: money does not equal happiness.  My world changed.  I quit my job in heavy industry.  My wife (Melody) and I made the choice to move up to Montana (a place where we've been vacationing for years) to try a little something new, a change in career, and a chance at truly enjoying life.

That leads us right back to chocolate.  Chocolate is a fascinating little thing.  The manufacture of bean-to-bar chocolate is a pretty involved process, which can be daunting to most, but caters pretty exclusively to the world class process engineer in me.  Aside from that, the look of pure joy on people's faces with that first taste is...well...inspiring.  That's what I'm here to do, make some of the best chocolate around and help spread a little joy and inspiration to those who need it. 

Everyone should have the chance to enjoy life. The daily grind can be tough for people...tough to a point where it clouds the rest of their life.  This world is breathtakingly beautiful, and sometime folks just need a reminder of that.  A reminder to unplug, stop taking the world for granted, refocus on what really matters, and help bring joy to those around you.  That may be the simplest, yet single hardest thing you'll every try to do...to just enjoy the little things.

My goal is to make people a little happier, and I've found that a little chocolate goes a long way towards these ends.  

The smile on your face when you try delicious craft bean-to-bar chocolate is why I do what I do...its the reason I named my company 'Joy Chocolates'.  Thanks for being part of my little experiment.

...and about Craft Chocolates

For those of you unfamiliar with craft bean-to-bar chocolate, its definitely something special.  Making craft bean-to-bar chocolate means that we process the the raw cacao bean into the rich, creamy chocolate that you may (or may not) be familiar with.  Our sustainably sourced, organic, fair trade cacao beans are inbound from Ecuador (mostly) and are absolutely perfect.  We roast them, refine them, add sweeteners and flavoring (as needed) temper them, and pour them into bars for Montanans and passers through to enjoy!

You may just be familiar with the big names in commodity chocolates (you know the ones, lining the impulse racks in grocery stores).  Unfortunately, they cut an awful lot of corners.  Craft bean-to-bar chocolates go the road less traveled and doesn't cut corners.  Why?  Because its worth it!

The big commodity chocolate companies source their beans through less than ethical means to keep costs down.  With all of the negative publicity around the slave labor and overall poor treatment of workers on Ivory Coast cacao farms, I wouldn't be doing my job (or succeeding at making people happy) if I didn't help support ethical farming practices and fair trade initiatives.  I like knowing where my cacao beans come from and that the folks that supply them are getting the fundamental financial building blocks to help them live a happy life.

The other thing about commodity chocolate vs craft bean-to-bar chocolates is the the manufacturing process and the flavor.  

The large commodity chocolate manufacturers use excessive cocoa butter and mix cacao from multiple sources to make it easier to manufacture, eliminate seasonal/regional flavors changes inherent with the cacao, drown out the naturally occurring fruity flavors found in cacao (that you may not have even known existed), and make sure it has the same bland (yet somehow over sweetened) chocolate flavor year after year...and don't even get me started on the tempering process.  Sugar is cheap...that's why the conventional chocolates are so sweet.  However the more sugar that is added, the harder it is to temper the chocolate.  As a result the larger commodity manufacturers cut this corner by adding emulsifiers to their mix.  That's right, this means that conventional chocolate isn't even tempered...its congealed.

Bean-to-bar chocolate is generally pretty dark (over 50% cacao even for the sweet stuff) because that's what is needed to make the chocolate temper properly.  We like that nice tempered snap in each and every one of our bars when you break off a chunk, at which point that dark chocolate or dark milk chocolate flavor just completely takes over.  Its an amazing experinece!

Bean-to-bar chocolates also like to embraces those seasonal flavor differences by using the bare minimum of cocoa butter.  While cocoa butter is technically cacao, it dulls the flavor of the cacao solids (or cocoa powder that is present in every bean).  Joy Chocolates has found the perfect recipe with 75% single source cacao beans (using just enough cocoa to lubricate our melangers) to really draw out that fruity apricot finish...which (believe it or not) is simply the taste of the cacao fruit.  Check out the Big Sky bar when you have a chance...or any of our in stock Exotic Cacao bars.  Its an experience, even if you don't like chocolate this dark.  Ranging from super earthy and darker than the 75% would have you believe to super fruity and naturally sweeter than probably any 75% dark chocolate you've ever tried!

A final thought with regards to the smaller chocolatiers and confectioners, generally speaking they will just buy chocolate chips from these large commodity chocolate manufacturers, add some secret ingredients, and mold them into basically the same chocolate bar you'll find on the impulse rack on store shelves everywhere...just a little more expensive.  We're not bad mouthing the little guys here, we're actually here to help!  Joy Chocolates is not there quite yet, but ultimately we'd like to step up and help provide an alternative source for ethical (and delicious) chocolate that can be melted down and remade into confections of all kinds!

"The candy man can because he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good."

-The Candy Man, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory