ABM Tours the Askinosie Chocolate Factory

ABM askinosie tourTrufflesRecently the A Beautiful Mess staff was invited on a private tour of the Askinosie Chocolate factory. I was particularly excited, because: 1.) I knew we would get to sample lots of amazing chocolate (!!!!!) and 2.) I really wanted Elsie to meet Shawn (the owner). He is such an inspiring business owner. Let me explain.FlavorsTouring askinosieShawn askinosieShawn Askinosie and his family are creators of Askinosie Chocolate. Elsie and I are suckers for small family businesses (I wonder why?). When we arrived we were immediately greeted by Shawn who was handing out dark chocolate and lavender truffles to everyone. He explained he had a business trip to Italy later that week where he would be showing off these truffles, so he needed to practice making them. They were AMAZING. He had our undivided attention after that. πŸ™‚Askinosie_chocolateAskinosie_tourAskinosie_chocolate processAskinosie_elsieHe gave us a tour of their small factory, located just down the street from our local shop. We got to see first hand the process of cocoa beans becoming chocolate. It is a fascinating process. Certain parts almost reminded me of coffee, having similar flavors and smells. We got to sample chocolate in various stages and even watch the molding process.Askinosie_barsAskinosieAskinosie_packagingChocolate barsFor me, learning about how a food is made is always fascinating. I LOVE knowing the science behind how bread rises or why brewing coffee works. So to see chocolate being made from scratch was a dream come true. But even more impressive than watching chocolate being born was hearing Shawn's story and the passion in his voice for the business. Askinosie_toursBefore Shawn was a chocolate maker, he was a successful lawyer. But along the way he got really into cooking and making chocolate desserts (like cupcakes!). The idea came to him to make chocolate from scratch, so, well, he did. As he learned more and more about how chocolate was made, he became more and more passionate about chocolate. Just like that, he decided to change careers and follow his passion. Askinosie_hopeNot only is Askinosie chocolate amazingly delicious, it is also ethically made. Shawn flies all over the world meeting and working directly with cocoa farmers making it possibly to eliminate the need for layers and layers of brokers and middle men (and their fees). This ensures farmers are paid a fair wage for their work and that proper conditions are being upheld (like not using slave labor on farms). As you can imagine, all that travel, expense and language/cultural barriers makes this process difficult. But that's how they do it at Askinosie, and our hats are off to them! Shawn said he is constantly finding ways for his small business to do good and help others. Throughout the tour Shawn would explain little things here and there that showed his passion for others. It was inspiring. I think Elsie and I both teared up a couple times. It's hard to face someone with that kind of commitment and passion and not feel inspired. Askinosie_buildingAll of us at ABM want to say thank you to Shawn and his team for inviting us in, giving us chocolate and inspiring us with their story. You can read more about their journey here. And if you have any dark chocolate lovers in your family, I highly recommend checking out their online shop. πŸ™‚ xo. Emma

*All photos by Alec Vanderboom

  • Thank you for a great article perfectly placed on “small business Saturday”. I know your readers have an appreciation and respect for the work that goes into this website and all of the other creative minds you introduce to us! I hope your holiday has been wonderful, and I will be spreading the word about Askinosie here on the west coast!

  • Hi Elsie!

    I’m from the Philippines and Mr. Askinosie actually source some of the cocoa here πŸ™‚ Askinosie’s chocolate is definitely an integral example of social entrepreneurship here. Their company helps the towns they source cocoa from in building school houses πŸ™‚

    Andie

  • Thank you for sharing this!
    I think it`s important to support family businesses like those,so tell me do you know if the sell Askinosie chocolate in europe or can you only buy it online??
    Wish you a nice weekend and really loved this post

    xoxo

  • oooooh I love going to a chocolate factory! Although I expected some chocolate rivers, the first time I went to a (organic and fairtraide9 chocolate factory was kinda magical…the smell alone makes me smile:)

    PS: check out “zotter” it’s a chocolatier who just works with organic and fairtrade beans in austria. He’s kin of big for this small country;)

  • Yesterday I went to a small store called Peace of 5th in Dayton Ohio that is a Fair Trade store that only sells items that are organic and fair traded without labor issues such as human trafficking, debt bondage and domestic severitude. We got to talking about their chocolate selection (a lot of them were askinosie) and it was so fun to taste test a few of them. What a great experience to tour their factory. Loved this post.

  • Really enjoyed reading this post. Shawn sounds like such a good person… That’s truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  • I love hearing about the stories + passions behind others’ creative businesses. This was such an inspiring post, and I’m looking forward to sampling some of their chocolate sometime soon. I’ve got my eye on their dark chocolates! YUM πŸ˜‰

  • Wow, that man is so inspiring! Abandoning his career as a layer to pursuit his dreams.. that makes him an amazing human being! thanks for sharing! xx
    Alice Barton β™₯ The Mow Way

  • I have visited this shop before, when i was in springfield last. the chocolate is wonderful and so well crafted. thanks for the lovely post!

  • Fantastic! I feel the same way…loving the science of things, especially baking! It is one reason (besides having the passion) why I opened a bakery.

    Greats post!

  • Oh yes please! Purdy’s Chocolate had a factory tour to celebrate its 100th Birthday a few years ago and it was truly and experience that my brother and I will never forget. It was cool to see how everything was still hand made despite how much the company has grown over the years.

    -Emily
    http://from-small-beginnings.blogspot.ca/

  • I LOVE the darker tones to these photos compared to your usual style. Very kinfolk magazine like. Gorgeous!

  • I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s amazing how one person can quit his job to chase his dreams. Such an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it!

  • I love learning about cool companies like this, how great to have them in your city. Gonna check out their shop…Sounds like the perfect stocking stuffers πŸ™‚

  • wow! it must have been an incredible experience! how cool is to go to a chocolate factory tour! and tasting all that delicious chocolate oh my! lucky you girls!
    thanks for sharing! love the photos!

  • Shawn is such an inspiration, I had the opportunity to interview him for a class and hearing his heart behind his product and company has inspired me ever since. I love his projects to feed single parented kids in the area as well as kids overseas. The chocolate is truly delicious. I’m glad a bigger blog like yours can showcase this company. I know local Springfielders take this company for granted:)

  • This is a fantastic feature! Super inspiring- I have been trying to focus my purchasing towards smaller businesses and this reminds me of why. πŸ™‚ Gorgeous photos as well.
    ❀stephanie

  • What an inspiring business to visit and feature, nice to see someone’s passion come to fruition.

  • What a wonderful post πŸ™‚ Thank you for the quick peek inside a beautiful small business, and how perfect for small business Saturday! I love the attention to detail, he has such beautiful packaging and the efforts put into fair trade etc. are just wonderful. I’m so happy to see more of it around!

  • So cool! I used to work for PT’s Coffee in Topeka, Kansas and they always boasted about Askinosie Chocolate. We even sold it in our shop – such AMAZING chocolate and so awesome that it’s ethically and responsibly made. Super jealous you girls got to go on a tour of the facility. If my husband and I are ever in the area we’ll have to stop by for some samples and a look inside!

  • It was only a few weeks ago that I fell in love with your blog and I am really amazed by the content you are adding every day! As IΒ΄m quite passionate about chocolate and baking and all that sort of stuff I really enjoyed reading this post πŸ™‚

  • That looks like a lot of fun! We have many chocolate factories in Germany, but their are never as cute as that one!

  • I would love to try a bar or two, but $20 in shipping for $17 of chocolate is a little excessive. Oh well, I’ll just imagine what dark chocolate and liquorice tastes like together. Do you know if it’s sold online anywhere else?

  • I love this post! Sounds like you had sooooooooo much fun. we love chocolate, Who doesen’t! WE sugest doing a post on things you can do with short hair, that would be cool!

    WE LOVE YOUR BLOG

    CELIAROSE and Elly

  • Please, please, PLEASE start putting pictures or just names of the writer at the beginning of posts. As you have more than one writer it’s really frustrating trying to read through a whole article without a face to picture. Or picturing Emma’s face for the whole article and then reaching the end and realizing that it was written by someone else. I’ve suggested this before, it would make it so much easier to visualize. I can picture Emma and Elsie but a pictures of the less frequent writers at the beginning of posts that they write would make it easy to get to know the team behind abm.

  • Emily,
    We understand. The posts are tagged (under the title) with the name of the contributor when it’s not one of us OR when it’s an article that Emma or I wrote alone. We do write a lot of stuff together (like all the sister styles for example…) so we don’t tag those.
    Sorry that it’s confusing! I hope the tags help.
    XO- elsie

  • Sarah,
    I know that they carry the chocolate at Whole Foods and at a lot of cute local grocery stores. When I am traveling I actually notice it pretty often in cute foodie shops!

    I did a quick google search and there seems to be multiple sources to buy it online, so maybe try that? The also carry the sipping chocolate at Anthropologie.
    Hope that helps! πŸ˜€

  • I REALLY ENJOYED THIS – I just may order on-line — I wish he was right around the corner from me πŸ™‚ I’d so be in there!!!

  • Saw these pictures on Emma’s instgram. So glad to see the whole tour! Looks like a delightful (and delicious) experience.

    Brooke

  • That looks amazing! The chocolate looks delicious and I especially love the moulding of the chocolate and the brand name stamped on it.

    Kudos to you for supporting an amazing small business!

    ~Hannah xx

  • This was such a sweet (pun intended?) post! The story is so inspiring! Definitely checking out the online shop now.

  • I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it made me to read that he sources only slave-free chocolate. I have been becoming more and more involved with the issue of Human Trafficking and modern day slavery, and knowing that there are small businesses that are willing to go this route is such a relief.

  • You are so lucky to tour a chocolate factory. I hope that I get an opportunity like that one day. Definitely been loving Small Business Saturday more and more as the years pass.

    Jamie
    greyskysaturday.wordpress.com

  • lavender truffles? yummy! I want to try
    yesterday I drank a green tea with lavender, was nice, i need to get more food with lavender. Great story and is nice to read about this man and passion, specially he is helping, there are many poor persons from Central America working hard, sometimes is not nice to see how Big factories takes prime material and paying few money, anyway good for this guy.
    I love chocolate and thank from the gods for the gold of mayans.

  • Thanks Emma for sharing this story. I love hearing about business owners who use their product to make a difference. This is a business I will definitely support. I am glad you were able to share your touring experience with us as well. It makes me feel I am there myself. Thanks again!
    -Nicky

  • I love this post! Everything about it makes me happy, people following their dreams and passions, chocolate, and lovely pictures to go along with it! Makes me wish I was there too πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing such a fun and inspiring story πŸ™‚

  • So inspiring! And so are some of the comments on here. Beautiful story for what looks like beautiful chocolate! I will make sure I try some when I cross the pond next year πŸ™‚

  • This is so fantastic!
    I love hearing about people who are making pretty small business decisions but absolutely changing the lives of others. For the best.
    Massive fan πŸ™‚
    I have a fair trade wedding and engagement ring. It was a fair bit more expensive but I’m sure meant a lot more to the producers than the fact we don’t have favours at the wedding!

    Esther x

    http://www.esther-aw.tumblr.com

  • If you love small family owned businesses, you should check out my mom’s business Holy Donuts! Follow us on instagram: @holy_donuts or at facebook.com/holydonutsbakery for our story. We’re a small, family owned business as well! πŸ™‚

  • now I’m super hungry! I bet that was super fun walking through the shop and learning the background! I love hearing start-up stories of wonderful businesses! especially when it involves food!

  • What a great place to have so close! I loved reading his story- so inspirational. I love how God sometimes puts dreams in your heart that you didn’t even know you had…it’s always an exciting adventure when you discover and chase them! Can’t wait to taste some of their chocolate. πŸ™‚

  • Ohhh this looks magic! I love the expressions on everyone’s faces, so much joy πŸ™‚ But now I want chocolate. Darn!

    Alexandria

  • I usually get Divine chocolate which is free/fair-trade/anti-slave labor chocolate. Otherwise I don’t touch chocolate. It is great learning about this company. I thought Shawn at first was Richard Dryfuss in the smaller picture on bloglovin’. haha.