At East Van Roasters, Chocolate is a Vehicle for Social Change

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Vancouver has many fine chocolate shops but East Van Roasters is one-of-a-kind. Located in the Downtown Eastside, EVR is a business with social change baked right into the DNA.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Head Chocolate Maker and Director, Shelley Bolton founded East Van Roasters in 2013 as a non-profit social enterprise. Her mission was to create a training and employment program for the women residents of the Rainier Hotel located above the chocolate factory on Carrall Street.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The women in the program face multiple barriers to employment and East Van Roasters serves as a place where they can develop skills and build their resumes before rejoining the general workforce.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Head Chocolate Maker and Director, Shelley Bolton. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The business recently expanded to include a second location half a block away. The new location houses a retail bakery as well as the confection production facilities, while the original location operates as the Vancouver’s only bean-to-bar chocolate factory/coffee shop.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The social impact of East Van Roasters extends beyond the local level. The chocolate at EVR is made in-house from responsibly sourced cacao beans. This means that the farmers that grew the beans were paid fairly. This is chocolate you can feel good about buying and giving as a gift.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Making chocolate is a long process that requires skill and attention to detail. Shelley and her team start with carefully selected raw cacao beans. The beans are sorted, roasted, cracked, winnowed, ground, refined and tempered before being molded into fine chocolate bars and bonbons.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

If you are a dark chocolate purist, you should try their single origin bars. They are made to highlight the unique flavour properties of the cacao beans. For a real treat, try a couple of bars side-by-side and observe the differences. A bar made of beans from Madagascar will taste drastically different to a bar made of Ecuadorian beans.

 

Jasmine Lukuku of ChocolateCodex. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Jasmine Lukuku of Chocolate Codex. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

If you prefer a sweeter treat, EVR has a selection of flavoured bars and delightful filled chocolates and truffles. Some recent standouts include the chocolate dipped cacao nib toffee and layered truffles featuring pâte de fruit. The fillings and inclusions are all selected to work in harmony with the chocolate. Love Nutella? EVR sells its own chocolate nut butters; perfect for slathering on toast or eating with a spoon.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Saul Good is proud to include East Van Roasters chocolate in many of our Vancouver Gift Baskets and Canada gift baskets. 

 

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About the Author

Jasmine

 

 

Jasmine Lukuku is a professional sweet tooth who spends much of her time baking, eating, photographing and writing about treats.

 

She co-founded chocolatecodex.com to share her love of fine chocolate with the world. Follow Jasmine: @chocolatecodex

 

 

 

 

About the Photographer

leah bio

 

 

Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities.   

 

View more of her work on Instagram: @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca