About this project
Welcome to Our Kickstarter Page!
We have a final surprise for our backers! We've collaborated with our good friend, photographer Travis Melin of Ely, Minnesota, to create a special edition of thank-you cards to send to all our backers with the rewards! Each backer will receive a 4 X 6, high-quality, frame-able image in a “May the Chocolate Be with You!” theme. Check out our updates page to see a prototype of the image!
Thanks to all our wonderful backers, we've reached our goal. Now let's take it to the next level. The more pledges come in, the more equipment and supplies we can buy, so that we can expand and grow, and keep up with demand. And with the extra funding, we can get our new Madagascar origin chocolate out there!
Rewards updates: If we go beyond $10,000, we will include a new, single-origin chocolate made from Madagascar Sambirano cacao with every reward. Check out our updates page to find out more about this fantastic chocolate and the added pledge incentives. We can hardly wait to make this chocolate! The Madagascar chocolate will come wrapped in bright purple foil and a special Meadowlands Chocolate Kickstarter wrapper. It's going to be so good!
In addition to the Madagascar, we will add a half-pound of Duluth Coffee's own Guatemala single-origin, organic coffee to pledges of $100 or more, courtesy of our friend Eric Faust, owner of Duluth Coffee Company in Duluth, Minnesota. This excellent, special-roast coffee pairs perfectly with all of our single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate.
So there you have it: Two new incentives. Pledge away, folks, it's entirely a good thing! Now, without further interruption, here's our story:
We are Clyo Howard and Beryl Wells Hamilton. As artists, we believe that making fine, bean-to-bar chocolate is a form of making art. As chocolate makers, we want to make the best chocolate possible from the simplest, purest ingredients.
Our chocolate is hand-crafted in small batches in our certified chocolate kitchen, which we rent from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Meadowlands, Minnesota. Chocolate has become our passion, and apparently it shows, because more and more people are discovering how special it is. Our company is growing, and we need more equipment and supplies so we can keep up with the demand.
It's important to us that our cocoa beans are ethically harvested and fairly traded. Beryl has traveled to several countries where cacao is grown, and as a young woman, she worked in Mexico, Guatemala, South Africa and Namibia, helping the poor find ways to get ahead in life. We care about the people, and the rain forest, and it makes us both very happy to know that the farmers and their families where our beans are grown are being given fair wages for their work. The greater the demand for ethically harvested, organic, fair trade chocolate, the better it is for the rain forest.
We love telling people at demos and tastings events about our chocolate. It's fun to watch them try each variety, helping them guess the complex flavors that are natural to each variety - hints of honey, fruits, flowers and spices; bursts of cranberries and tropical flowers; overtones of coffee, smells of exotic woods... like fine wine or coffee, these amazing flavor experiences come from the terroir - the land - the flora and fauna, the forests, mountains and valleys in the countries where the beans are grown.
Meadowlands Chocolate is organic by nature, gluten-free and vegan. It is an exciting and sustainable, responsible and nutritious way to experience chocolate. We use two ingredients: single-origin, organic cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. We don’t add any soy lecithin or extra cocoa butter, dairy, nuts, or anything else to our chocolate.
How Did We Start Making Chocolate?
Our introduction to fine-quality chocolate came one day in the summer of 2013, while watching a cooking show on television, featuring organic chocolate. The owner of the chocolate company was being interviewed. When he said that he started out making chocolate bars in his kitchen, it was like we were hit by a bolt of lightning. We looked at each other and said, "We can do that!" We immediately drove down to the local co-op and bought a few bars of organic chocolate. When we tasted the bars, we said, "Maybe we can do even better... Let's try it!"
A few weeks later, after talking late into the night for many nights, and researching everything we could find about making bean-to-bar chocolate, we purchased four pounds of raw, organic, cocoa beans (one pound each from four different countries of origin); one Premier Wonder Grinder; a used,1.5-lb capacity tempering machine; an inexpensive table roaster; a few chocolate leaf molds, and some colored foils for wrapping our chocolate leaves. We set about making chocolate a pound at a time... in our kitchen. A couple of months later, we brought some of our chocolate leaves to an outdoor art fair, just to see how people liked it. By the end of the first day, our chocolate had sold out.
After starting Meadowlands Chocolate on a shoestring budget one year ago, we are now making some of the best chocolate (we have been told) that can be found anywhere in the upper Midwest. We are one of only about 35 to 40 bean-to-bar chocolate companies in the country. We now have eighteen stores (and counting). The demand has grown more quickly than our capacity to keep up.
A year ago, we said, "When we get to the point where we can't keep up with demand unless we have more machines, we will launch our Kickstarter campaign." Guess what? That day has arrived.
What Is Our Goal, and Why Do We Need Kickstarter?
We will always be a humbly-minded local business, and we will always be closely involved in the process. But at the same time we want to grow and expand across the Upper Midwest as more specialty grocery stores, chocolate shops and co-ops seek to carry our product. We love it that our chocolate makes people happy!
If we go from one machine to four or more machines, we can process all four varieties at once instead of two at a time. It will be SO much more efficient to process the chocolate this way. We won't have to work late into the night to get the chocolate finished, wrapped, and shipped to the stores on time.
In addition, we need funds to buy our first purchase of bulk beans. But the first purchase of bulk beans in four varieties will run into thousands of dollars, and we simply don't have the money to place that order. Buying our beans in bulk will greatly increase our profitability.
Every Dollar Donated Will Go Towards Our Growth
Here’s a breakdown on how our Kickstarter funds will be used:
• Our first order of bulk beans;
• Two 6-lb. capacity Premier Wonder grinders;
• Two 9-pound capacity grinders/melangers.
• Seventeen 1-oz.bar molds;
• A Champion juicer for cracking the beans (the first one is used to shear the beans);
• A winnower
• A ten-pound capacity tempering machine.
Very soon we will also need a chocolate dispenser, more shelving, new format molds for our upcoming chef’s chocolate, and more stainless steel tables.
If we reach our stated goal and there are still days left before the deadline, feel free to keep the donations coming! The rewards are great (especially the chocolate)!
Our chocolate was recently featured at the popular North Coast Nosh in Minneapolis, and we have received great reviews from Heavy Table magazine and local newspapers. We are only going to keep growing, and we absolutely LOVE what we do.
If more comes in than what we are asking, every bit of it will go towards additional needs our company is facing as we grow and expand, as well as helping us to develop a new line of baker's chocolate, chocolate chips, and drinking chocolate in a new origin.
Support our Meadowlands Chocolate Kickstarter Project. Help make our business go to the next level. In return, we'll send you our fantastic chocolate as as your reward after the project is funded.Everybody wins! THANK YOU FOR GIVING!
Risks and challenges
There isn’t much risk involved. As artists, we have been facing challenges and thinking outside the box to deal with those challenges for as long as we can remember. We're established as a business now, and we are growing because people keep wanting more. This is an exciting time in our lives!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, we use only two ingredients: organic cocoa beans and organic cane sugar.
We pack our chocolate carefully and line the USPS Priority boxes with silver insulated bubble wrap, tape all the edges, and add enough ice gel packs and filler to keep the chocolate cool and comfortable during shipping. We have had great success shipping with USPS Priority 2 to 3 day Mail service.
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