It’s cold. Horrifically, monstrously cold. Walking around bundled up like six-year-olds—unable to fully bend at the knees and elbows—reawakens childhood memories of freezing one’s butt off. That and thinking how some hot chocolate would help make everything bearable, at least for a little while.
But where can an adult, also chilled by global warming guilt, find a cup of hot chocolate to warm the spirit? Nestled in a corner of Toronto Sprouts (720 Bathurst, south of Honest Ed’s) is an enterprise called ChocoSol.
ChocoSol is a small, ecological and inter-community initiative between Mexican farmers in Chiapas, technologists from the Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, and Toronto-based chocolatiers Michael Sacco and Graham Corbett. They import organic cocao through a structure that they define as “horizontal trade.” Affiliated with the Universadad de la Tierra in Oaxaco, Mexico, Sacco and Corbett have designed and built solar roasters now used by local cacao producers. This is where the horizontal part comes in, explains Sacco (who bears a passing resemblance to the actor Mark Ruffalo): the company provides technologies (like solar roasters) to help promote the diversity of production and independent economic growth through creativity in the labour process. The end product is organic and ecologically sustainable—plus and the farmers get paid a higher than fair trade market price.
Sacco and Corbett aren’t just traders. ChocoSol the store has been quietly up for months. They haven’t had an official opening yet because they’ve been busy experimenting with processes and products. They’ve built a bicycle-powered contraption to grind their all-organic ingredients like cacao and vanilla. They’ve tweaked recipes to ensure that the chocolate treats will taste good and be good for you. And while they’d planned for a grand opening on February 14, they’ve instead decided to hold a celebration of friendship. Everyone is welcome to come down and raise a glass of hot chocolate and toast the ones that they love platonically.
How does that hot chocolate taste? It’s milk-free, which gives it the flavour of the hot chocolate found at a childhood skating party. Plus it’s chocolate, so it contains chemicals that elevate your mood. What could be better on a freaking cold day?