Fun, food & education: First DC Chocolate Society Meeting

Fun, food & education: First DC Chocolate Society Meeting

The DC chocolate community knows how to celebrate chocolate.

Harper macaw and potomac Chocolate
Two local bean-to-bar makers, Matt of Harper Macaw, and Ben of Potomac Chocolate

Within a two-hour drive of DC you’ll find over ten different bean-to-bar makers.  (Reality may result in longer-than-expected drive time.)

But even closer to home are a medley of local truffle, bon-bon & chocolate treat shops.  Pure drinking chocolate, a sinful cousin of hot cocoa, can be found in DC cafes; Cottage chocolatiers are spreading their wings and their chocolate fairy-dust; And most of our small-but-mighty local bean-to-bar makers are growing, or have plans to expand.

And faithfully once a year, hundreds of chocolate-obsessed zombies swarm to the local Super Bowl of chocolates, the annual springtime DC Chocolate Festival.

But, we need more! Not just more chocolate, but more excuses to gather to eat, and chat, and learn, and ponder the beauty of this amazing cacao fruit that miraculously found its way to our DC tables, so far from its tropical roots.

The result? The creation of a new, community driven, DC-based Chocolate Society. A monthly gathering of local chocolate enthusiasts with a simple goal.  To have fun while eating & learning about chocolate–together.

Framework? Each meeting will focus on a “speaker of the month” as the basis for guiding the tastings & discussion.

The meeting will also include an informal “What’s New” roundtable for makers & confectioners. This will give a chance for anyone, professional or novice, to share their chocolate creations or gain tasting feedback from the group.

Ultimately, there is a structure to the meeting but the group will strive to be casual and approachable for anyone with an interest in learning about chocolate.

And it’s important to note that although the group was founded by three DC chocolate enthusiasts, the goal is to be a member-driven group.  Members can have a voice in setting the agenda for future topics.

The group is fortunate to have all future meeting spaces funded by Harper-Macaw, which will soon have a permanent manufacturing & cafe location in the District.

First Meeting: June 2019, near Dupont Circle

DC chocolate soceity
Learning about chocolate at the first DC Chocolate Society Meeting

The much anticipated inaugural meeting took place on Thursday evening, June 13.

Cacao Nibs from Harper Macaw
Cacao nibs and 100% chocolates were sampled as part of the lecture by Matt Dixon, head chocolate maker at Harper Macaw

Chocolate & conversation were complimented by a surprising variety of chocolate themed samples. The group was fortunate to have in attendance several chocolate makers & chocolatiers.

The supportive local chocolate entreprenuers brought not only insight & encouragement for the group, but also generously shared samples of recent chocolate projects.



The main speaker of the evening, Matt Dixon, Head Chocolate Maker at Harper Macaw, led the engaged audience on a tasting trip using sustainably sourced Brazilian cacao.

Matt Dixon, leading the group discussion


The group learned about flavor influences in each step from raw bean to finished bar. The lesson was complete with beans, nibs, sugar and 100% chocolate samples for tasting.


After the interactive Harper Macaw presentation, each of the local makers used the forum to share current samples and obtain feedback. Prior to conclusion of the evening, input cards were distributed to help narrow down future chocolate topics of interest to the group.


Potomac Chocolate
Potomac Chocolate bon-bons for sampling
Swoon chocolates
Swoon Salty Lime Truffles shared by Swoon Chocolates (“Not margarita, because it totally transcends the inspiration – intense lime in bittersweet chocolate, with a splash of tequila and topped with flaky sea salt”)
Pacari organic Equadorian bean-to-bar chocolate samples & a cacao pod!

Need help with definitions? 

Chocolate makers start with burlap bags of cacao beans, eventually creating a bar of chocolate, hence ‘bean-to-bar.‘  Chocolatiers or sometimes called confectioners, start with pre-made chocolate blocks or chips to dream up and create a new confection, such as a truffle or bon-bon. Sometimes a chocolate maker is also a chocolatier, meaning AFTER they produce chocolate from a cacao bean, they use the hand-crafted chocolate as an ingredient in a new treat, such as a truffle.

Bean-to-bar (or single origin or craft chocolate) means chocolate that is transparent—you can trace the bar of chocolate in your hand back to the cocoa bean and the farmer who grew it. Usually bean-to-bar also signifies a chocolate made on a smaller scale than the industrial chocolates most are familiar with (such as Herseys) and can also be refered to as hand-crafted chocolate.

Thank you:

Gratitude to the professionals in attendance: Pacari (bean-to-bar), Potomac (bean-to-bar & chocolatier), River-Sea Chocolates (bean-to-bar), Veritas Artizen (bean-to-bar & chocolatier), Harper Macaw (bean-to-bar & chocolatier), Swoon (chocolatier) and 440 Confections (confectioner). Thanks to Harper Macaw for the lively & tasty presentation, as well as providing the meeting space.

Next meeting: August 15, 2019.  Join us!

Next gathering is tenatively scheduled for Thursday, August 15th, from 7-9 pm.  Contact for more information.   Follow @chocochaser or @timetoeatchocolate for updates on meeting topic & location.

Andrea Howard, Veritas Artizen chocolate
Andrea Howard, of Veritas Artizen chocolate and Krissee D’Aguilar, of River Sea Chocolate. Also pictured: 440 Confections Emily Annick & Swoon Chocolate’s Jennifer Dickman.
River Sea chocolate
Mariano D’Aguiar, of River-Sea Chocolates (with Samuel of Harper Macaw)
Dc chocolate society
Suggestion card example; lots of great ideas!


A happy attendee
Galo Pazmino, of Pacari Organic Chocolate (in center)



DC chocolate society
Chocolate chaos. In a good way.
404 Confections
440 Confections, DC’s first cottage food business, sharing a creamy hazelnut chocolate confection with the group (Emily Annick, standing near the large screen)
Potomac Chocolate
Ben Rasmussen of Potomac Chocolate, sharing his latest bonbons with the group


Samuel Carvalho, of Harper Macaw (nearest to camera)


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