Besides the direct relationship with cocoa farmers (which includes paying above fair trade prices and profit sharing), Askinosie has taken numerous steps toward building a socially responsible, ecologically sound business. While the Springfield chocolate factory was renovated following green guidelines, the packaging is comprised of natural, home compost safe materials and even features an image of each bean varietal's lead farmer.
As for the quality of the chocolate? I've been sampling the Soconusco and San Jose Del Tambo (each $7.50 through the Askinosie site) and find that both, while noticeably different, are wonderfully balanced, smooth and buttery and free of the overpowering sweetness found in many gourmet bars on the market.It's a versatile chocolate—the kind you could enjoy with an afternoon espresso just as well as an evening I.P.A.
We think the Chalk-late Box ($39.50) is a clever little packaging solution as well, making for a great gift with a built-in card.