Tag Archives: holiday gifts

Canadian Craft Chocolate is on the rise

02 Dec

We are delighted to share this guest post by chocolate expert Jasmine Lukuku.

 

 

evr

Photo from East Van Roasters

Canadian Craft Chocolate

There is a revolution happening in the chocolate industry, Craft Chocolate is on the rise. The vast majority of commercially available chocolate is manufactured by a handful of large European and American companies. In the past, small chocolate businesses would buy pre-made chocolate from these large companies, melt it, flavour it and repackage it under their own labels.

 

Unfortunately, many of the large companies supplying this pre-made chocolate have well documented histories of exploitation in cacao growing regions such as West Africa and Central America. This is the chocolate industry’s dirty secret.

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

What is a chocolate lover to do? Fortunately, there is a growing community of chocolate makers committed to ethical sourcing of cacao. They are buying beans directly from growers or trusted brokers and making their own chocolate from the bean. Transparency is important to these makers and they are not afraid to share their sources with consumers and other chocolate makers. This is chocolate you can feel good about purchasing for yourself or as a gift.

 

chocolate - evr

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

The first time you try Craft Chocolate, you may be surprised. Cacao Beans can taste drastically different depending on where they are grown, how they are handled after harvesting and how the chocolate maker chooses to roast and process them. Craft Chocolate makers delight in highlighting the unique characteristics of the beans. You can liken this to the terroir of wine. When I host group chocolate tastings, we often go through a variety of bean origins so we can compare characteristics.

 

We are lucky to have some amazing Craft Chocolate makers in our own backyard. Canada is home to some of the industry’s pioneers as well as talented newcomers. If you are looking for a great chocolate gift or want to treat yourself to something special, I recommend the chocolate makers below.

 

Sirene Chocolate

sirene chocolate

Photo from Sirene Chocolate

 

Chocolate Maker Taylor Kennedy has been scooping up international awards for his well-crafted bars. His genius Tasting Pairs combine two varietals of single-origin chocolate in one package. You can find Sirene’s cheery and sophisticated bars in several of Saul Good’s Gourmet Gift Baskets.

 

Palette de Bine

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

This Québec based maker is all about the details. Founder Christine Blais crafts elegant, small-batch chocolate from such diverse origins as Vietnam, Trinidad and Belize. The wood-grain patterned bars are packaged in simple kraft card stock with a letterpress logo. The look is simple, rustic luxury with a dose of Canadiana. They make a perfect chocolate gift!

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

Soma Chocolate Makers

soma chocolate

Photo from Soma Chocolate

 

If you find yourself in Toronto, you need to pay a visit to one of Soma’s chocolate cafes. Cynthia Leung and David Castellan have been making chocolate since 2003; that makes them trailblazers in the craft chocolate community. They are lauded around the world for both their bean-to-bar chocolate and their innovative confections. Their CSB Chama bar won a Silver Medal in the World Finals of the International Chocolate Awards.

 

Organic Fair

organic fair chocolate

Photo from Organic Fair Chocolate

If you love flavoured chocolate bars, look no further than Organic Fair’s impressive selection. The Sakura bar with candied ginger and sundried cherries is a personal favourite. This Cobble Hill, BC based operation makes bars that are the perfect size for snacking. They also offer a vast selection of Fairtrade pantry goods and spices.

 

East Van Roasters

evr - chocolate

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

Vancouver residents can get in on the bean-to-bar chocolate action by visiting East Van Roasters. This chocolate cafe is a social enterprise designed to provide training to women living in the Ranier Hotel. Stop in and see how chocolate is made while sipping on a house-roasted coffee paired with some hand-rolled truffles. East Van Roasters’ bars are available in select Chocolate Gift Baskets from Saul Good.

chocolate gift basket 

About the author: 

Jasmine co-founded ChocolateCodex.com as a way to share her enthusiasm for chocolate. She spends much of her time baking and photographing her creations for theblenderist.com and collaborating on design and branding projects with her partner Chris at pleaserxvp.com. Follow Jasmine on instagram: @chocolatecodex

Jasmine

 

Gifting: 5 tips for timing & etiquette

06 Nov

corporate gifts

If you want to craft a gift experience that is memorable and meaningful, it is valuable to think of your gift as a great story and your recipients as your captive audience. When you demonstrate thoughtfulness, your generous gesture will make you and/or your company much more memorable.

Tip #1 Send your gifts early

Early December is the ideal timing to send out your corporate holiday gift baskets. The weeks leading up to the holidays can get pretty hectic. So why share the stage with your competition? Being first is a great way to be memorable. We encourage clients to avoid sending out gifts in the last week of December.

Tip #2 Hand-deliver whenever it’s possible

When was the last time you closed a deal without some eye-contact and a handshake? Nothing consummates a relationship like face time. So, do what you can to present your gift personally.

Appreciation in business and corporate gifts

Not only does it demonstrate genuine appreciation, it’s fun too: you get to share in the gift experience and build the relationship. That’s what it’s all about.

 

If hand delivery isn’t possible, check out our $10 flat rate shipping across Canada.

Tip #3 Understand if the gift is for a group or an individual

One of the first questions we ask our clients is if their gifts are being given to groups or individuals. Why? Because gifts for groups should be easy to share. And by sharing we don’t mean dividing up the unopened goodies. You want to avoid the “who wants the tapenade? I’m taking the crackers” scenario.

 

The ideal group gift experience involves a bunch of people gathered around, enjoying their treats and talking about how great it’s been working together.

office party throwdown

Tip #4 Be mindful of diet restrictions

It is helpful if you have information about food sensitivities, allergies, diet restrictions etc. When you select gifts that acknowledge diet limitations, it shows an additional level of thoughtfulness that can really go a long way. Ask us about our gluten free gift options. They are delectable and indulgent. 

Tip #5 Know if it is appropriate to gift alcohol

Lots of people enjoy a nice bottle of wine. Alcohol can be a gift that is truly appreciated but (there’s always a but) when gifting alcohol as a corporate gift you need to be 100% certain that it will be well received. Corporate gifts are about building relationships and the last thing you want to do is make someone uncomfortable or feel insulted by your gesture.

Variables to consider when gifting alcohol:

  • Religion
  • Family history
  • Alcoholism/addiction
  • Personal preference

Bottom line: If you’re not 100% sure your gift recipient is going to enjoy the bottle of wine, beer or spirits, leave it on the shelf.