Staff Picks

The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Wade L., who has been working at the Co-op as the Assistant Deli Manager for two years. For his pick Wade chose Divine Chocolate’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt bar. Wade recommends this product because he finds it to be a lovely blend of sweet and salty that works very synergistically. He says it has a little bit of a crunchy texture that led him to the conclusion that this chocolate bar is “a textural and flavorful masterpiece.” Wade recommends bringing it to staff meetings to share for a little blood sugar pick-me-up when the meeting starts to run long.

Divine Chocolate Limited has been making and selling Fair Trade chocolate for decades. Originally established in the United Kingdom back in 1998, according to Wikipedia the company was initially co-owned by Kuapa Kokoo, a cocoa farmers’ cooperative in Ghana; Twin Trading, an alternative trading company in the UK; and The Body Shop, with additional support from Christian Aid and Comic Relief. Kuapa Kokoo has gradually been increasing their stake in the company and now owns the majority of the company, a first for the industry. As the cooperative’s stake in Divine Chocolate has increased, so has the number of farmer members in Kuapa Kokoo, which, according to Divine Chocolate’s website, currently has close to 85,000 members in approximately 1,400 villages.

Divine Chocolate currently carries over 50 products, which include chocolate bars, seasonal gifts and specialties, drinking chocolate, and cocoa. The company is an advocate for environmental conservation in cocoa farming, and is working to reduce their environmental footprint by limiting airfreight of materials and by removing plastic from their packaging.

Over the years they have won a host of awards, including, most recently, being named the Favorite Fairtrade product in the U.K. and receiving the Social Enterprise of the year in 2014 and the Guardian Sustainable Business Award for Social Impact in 2015, according to Wikipedia. In addition to providing further interesting information about their unique cooperative, Divine Chocolate’s website also has a pairing guide for chocolate and beer as well as a guide to mindfulness and the art of eating chocolate. Clearly they are serious about their consumption of chocolate.

The next staff-person I spoke with this month was Gina H., who has been working at the Co-op as a Barista for the past 10 months. For her pick Gina chose the unfiltered Nigori Sake made by the Kurosawa Sake Brewing Company. Gina says that this sake has a nice flavor without being overly sweet. She says it is everything you want out of a sake without being boring. Gina says sake is her drink of choice to unwind. She finds that on a hot day, unfiltered sake by itself (not paired with food) just hits the spot.

The Kurosawa Sake Brewing Company is a family-run company that was established in 1858 in Nagano, Japan, near the uppermost stream of the Chikuma River. The same family has served as president of the company for five generations, while another family has served as Sake Master for six generations. Since its inception, the company has been brewing authentic sake using traditional hand-crafting methods under some of the most ideal conditions imaginable (picture mountains, fresh spring water, and locally-produced rice).

According to the Pacific International Liquor corporation, Nigori sake is an unfiltered variety of sake, with a cloudy appearance that has been brewed throughout Japan for over 2,000 years. The Kurosawa Nigori, while elegant, is not necessarily a typical Nigori. Although unfiltered, it is lightly misty and considered by some to be a gateway or introduction to filtered sakes. It is also semi-dry, which is an uncommon characteristic for unfiltered sake. According to reviews, it is a palate pleaser with its smooth flavor and notes of melon, star fruit, and cream. It is meant to be served on its own or with light fare, lightly chilled to slightly warm in a stemless wine glass.