The ABCs of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate

For DeAnn Wallin, chocolate is her life. “It’s what I do,” she says.

The owner of Solstice Chocolate literally eats and breathes chocolate, and we don’t know for sure, but she might dream about it when she sleeps.

DeAnn is a chocolate maker, specializing in artisan bean-to-bar chocolate. A chocolate maker is different than a chocolatier, as a maker gets the cacao beans and starts from scratch making the chocolate, step-by-step. The only thing DeAnn doesn’t do is grow and harvest the chocolate, because cacao beans will only grow close to in special climates. The only US state that can grow and harvest cacao is, unsurprisingly, Hawaii.

Steps to Making Chocolate

There are nine steps included in making chocolate, including harvesting, fermenting, roasting, conching, grinding, winnowing, tempering, and molding.

DeAnn experimented with making chocolate for years before it became so popular, and even before she founded her own company, Solstice Chocolate. Today, artisan chocolate is an industry, and things have changed a lot from the early days. But DeAnn has always loved chocolate, from her younger years working with her grandmother learning how to temper chocolate to her current expertise as a bean-to-bar producer.

From the time she receives the burlap sacks containing cacao beans to the end product showing up in stores, the level of her love for chocolate is apparent. Although DeAnn is a registered nurse, she says making chocolate is much more fun.

The Harmons and Solstice Chocolate Relationship

In the early days of Solstice, they thought about reaching out to Harmons, which is known for selling and promoting local brands. Their story is a good example of the local networking ties that Harmons has. Solstice wasn’t really sure how to go about it, but they had heard about Matt Caputo, who is currently CEO of Tony Caputo’s Food Market & Deli, a well-known Utah company known for its gourmet and specialty food and prowess.

They dropped some chocolate off to Matt, with a Post-it note explaining where it came from. Since they never heard back, they were worried the chocolate wasn’t good enough, but everything they heard from others indicated the opposite. Finally, they decided to reach out to him once more and discovered their note had fallen off the chocolate, never to be found, but Matt loved the chocolate and was happy to finally find out where it came from. He was also instrumental in getting Solstice on Harmons’ shelves.

Really Good Cacao Is Not Bitter

A lot of people think dark chocolate is bitter, and DeAnn works hard to set that misconception straight. “Really good cacao is not bitter, although it can have a bite,” she says.

Your Harmons cheesemonger is knowledgeable about artisan chocolate pairings and can make recommendations that will elevate your taste buds.

Special Promotion with Harmons and Solstice Chocolate

Listen to the podcast to learn more about the ABCs of making bean-to-bar chocolate, and as a special incentive, you can receive a 50 percent off promo code to try Solstice Chocolate. Details are announced in the podcast, so you’ll have to listen to take advantage of this offer, but we promise it’s worth it.

DeAnn Wallin, Solstice Chocolate

DeAnn Wallin is the creator and owner of the award-winning artisan chocolate company, Solstice Chocolate, which was founded in 2013. She is a chocolate maker who specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate. 

DeAnn is also a registered nurse, but she says chocolate is “more fun.”

If you enjoyed this podcast, you’ll want to listen to our other episodes. You can find them here. Recent episodes include Meal Prep and Planning Made Easy with Dietitian Genevieve Daly, and Eating for Exercise with our dietitians Sarah Kiel and Heather Lieber. 

At Harmons, we’re lucky to have incredibly talented artists at each store, and we’re sure you’ve seen their amazing chalk art as you wander throughout every location. We’re excited to be able to feature some of their work as the featured art on our podcast blog. This art is the work of Ryann Meyers, who works at our Mountain View location.