West

BUSINESS PLAN

Finding just right cacao for just the right chocolate

Ken Richardson
Tom and Monica Rogan are owners of Goodnow Farms Chocolate in Sudbury.

In his previous career, Tom Rogan produced television shows including “Flipping Out” for Bravo and the Emmy Award-winning “The Best Thing I Ever Made” for Food Network. Shortly before the Emerson College graduate sold his production company in 2010, he and his wife Monica, a real estate developer, discovered single origin chocolate and began making craft chocolate bars in their Los Angeles kitchen.

In 2015, the couple relocated to historic Goodnow Farm in Sudbury, where they built out a commercial kitchen. In November 2016, Goodnow Farms Chocolate began selling hand-wrapped, premium chocolate made from ethically sourced cacao with no additives. This month, it was announced that Goodnow Farms Chocolate is a finalist in the 2018 Good Food Awards, with winners announced in January.

Q. What led to turning your chocolate-making hobby into a business?

TOM: The first time we tasted single origin chocolate, it opened our eyes to what chocolate could be. We thought, “How hard could it be to make it ourselves?” It turns out the process is extremely complicated. We both have a lot of creative energy, and we enjoy the process of using different cacao beans to create different flavors. It seemed like the perfect next challenge.

Q. What differentiates Goodnow Farms Chocolate?

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MONICA: One thing we do that is unique and special is pressing our own cocoa butter, which makes the chocolate bars super smooth. It’s a labor-intensive process requiring special equipment, but it really adds to the flavor. Another reason we do it is because a by-product is powderized cocoa, which we use to make rich, flavorful hot cocoa.

Q. How do you select the cacao beans?

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MONICA: We’ve spent a lot of time sourcing beans to find the ones with the best flavor, and traveling to Mexico and Central and South America to develop relationships with the farmers who produce them. We pay them a premium, and we’ve had the opportunity to help tweak the post-harvest process to make even better quality beans. It’s pretty amazing to have the ability to impact the quality of the product.

Q. How are you getting the word out to consumers?

TOM: We do a lot of store demos because so many people haven’t tasted chocolate like this. Seeing their surprise, and how much they love it, is very rewarding. Ours cost a little more than a standard chocolate bar, but the benefits are superior taste and ethical sourcing.

For more information, visit goodnowfarms.com.

Cindy Cantrell may be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.