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Sandy-based Chocolat-e is a new company that sells an age-old product in a fresh way.

The product is, of course, chocolate. But it’s chocolate that delivers subtlety rather than a sugar rush.

The key to understanding Chocolat-e’s approach is its best-selling product, the Discovery Box (see photo above), which contains six chocolate origins, each sourced from a single cocoa farm. Four of the six use the same recipe and percentage of cocoa (72%). The remaining two are “dark” milk chocolates. Milk chocolate normally contains 30% cocoa, and these are 43% and 47%. The company’s Dark Milk Brazil 43% chocolate won bronze at the International Chocolate Awards 2021-22 “Americas” competition.

All of the chocolates are meant to be savored slowly and compared as a chocolate-tasting experience.

The Discovery Box makes it easy to recognize the qualities conferred by geographic locations, which have unique climates, soils and growing conditions. The collection’s single-origin cocoa beans are grown in Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, Belize and Brazil. The cocoa from these farms is used throughout Chocolat-e’s product line, which includes chocolate bars, baking chips and drinkable chocolate.

This is not your grandfather’s Hershey bar.

What it is, rather, is the brainchild of Jeanyves Verdu, a French-born graphic designer who spent much of his adult life in France and Belgium before settling in Manzanita almost six years ago with his Oregonian husband. While Jeanyves enjoys living in Manzanita, he became frustrated immediately by his inability to find chocolate that he enjoyed. So he assembled a group of clients, food experts and investors to address the problem.

Chocolat-e’s five founders include the CEO of a gourmet food company that developed a macaron ice cream sandwich launched in Sams Clubs in 2023, a former real estate developer turned investor, one of France’s top pastry chefs and Oregonian Norm Rice, a Boring-based Realtor who runs Chocolat-e alongside Jeanyves.

When they formed the company in 2019, the group hoped to manufacture its chocolates in Oregon and, taking a cue from the state’s wineries, open tasting stores, as the concept rests on tasting and education. Then COVID happened, and the founders pivoted. Manufacturing happens, instead, in France, and the chocolate is shipped to Sandy, where orders are fulfilled. The company began selling chocolates in 2022. Its motto, fittingly, is “born in Oregon, made in France.”

The process begins at a handful of cocoa farms in Chocolat-e’s source countries. The cocoa beans are processed into baking chips by Valrhona, a certified B Corp in France that meets Chocolat-e’s standards for sustainability and ethical sourcing and growing. Chocolat-e itself has been a certified Benefit Corporation for Good since 2023. The chocolates are produced by Bovetti Chocolats in France using recipes created by Chocolat-e cofounder Frédéric Cassel.

Chocolat-e relies on online sales and focuses on corporate gifting, offering tasting experiences and personalized boxes. The company’s sustainable packaging features recycled cardboard and, in the place of plastic, cellophane composed of recycled cellulose. Jeanyves and Norm hope to open a tasting store in the near future, and they have begun collaborating with chocolatiers and chefs in Oregon to develop products and dishes using their chocolate.

The company has encountered some challenges, including increases in the cost of cocoa beans and shipping. However, says Jeanyves, he has been surprised by how eager Americans are to learn about new ways to enjoy chocolate.

The company’s name, by the way, incorporates the English and French (chocolat) spellings of its signature product, with a hyphen serving as a bridge of sorts between cultures.

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Chocolat-e's recipes were developed by Frédéric Cassel, a company co-founder and one of France's top pastry chefs.
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Chocolat-e works with Valrhona to source its cocoa beans from individual farms, including M Libanio Agricola in Brazil.
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Chocolat-e uses recycled packaging, creating a "gourmet chocolate in cardboard" aesthetic.