Interview: David Castellan, Co-founder of SoMA Chocolate

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“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 kind of laughed and said, ‘no one ever orders two bags of cocoa…'” “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],” There are just 11 customers here today. Only 11 businesses throughout the whole of North America are known to purchase cocoa beans.'”

-David Castellan, Co-founder SoMA Chocolate

The SoMA Chocolate Maker is among the world’s oldest manufacturers of chocolate produced in small batches. Together with his business partner, Cynthia, David Castellan established the firm in 2003, and ever since then, they have been producing excellent chocolate. However, as any chocolate maker will tell you, establishing a chocolate factory from scratch is not a simple undertaking. In fact, back in 2003, the whole idea of starting a chocolate factory from scratch was absurd. But they still managed to pull it off.

In today’s world, SoMA Chocolate Maker is considered to be one of the pioneering companies behind the handmade chocolate movement. David and I have a conversation about his history in the food business, the state of the market for exquisite chocolate in the early 2000s, and their methodology for discovering new origins while we are at their plant in Toronto, Canada. I really hope that you take as much pleasure in hearing about our talk as I did in having it.

It is important to take note that the episode of the podcast for which I was interviewing David prompted me to focus a lot of my questions on the subject of David’s early experiences with chocolate and the development of his company.

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A post shared by Cyn (@somachocolatemaker) on Feb 14, 2018 at 7:22am PST

David with his partner Cynthia.

Topics We Cover

  • David’s history as a baker and chocolatier, as well as the story of how he entered the artisan chocolate business before it really existed as an industry
  • It was in Italy, when he was a youngster, that he had his first experience with cocoa liquor.
  • Figuring out precisely what it is that they do at SoMA
  • How the design of their new factory has been in the works for the last 15 years, as well as what they would do differently if they were to construct a new chocolate maker’s facility today
  • The two businesses that were already producing chocolate in tiny batches at the time when SoMA was getting its start
  • Their method for creating a new single origin bar, which includes experimenting with different roast characteristics and coming up with fresh packaging.
  • How SoMA obtains its cocoa in 2019, and how their sourcing practices have evolved throughout the course of their sixteen years in company