Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Company Opens Space in Dobbs Ferry

CocoaCompassion, a social impact bean-to-bar chocolate company, is opening its first physical space, ThePod, in Dobbs Ferry, New York this February. ThePod will be both a chocolate marketplace, selling products either made by farmer producers in cacao-growing regions or onsite in the production facility, and a progressive space that serves as an art gallery, community gathering place, and small event space

Fostering Change in a Bittersweet Industry
CocoaCompassion’s founder Joy Thaler loves chocolate, and ThePod will sell a variety of beyond-fair-trade chocolate products. All of CocoaCompassion’s house-made products “Give Back with Every Bite,” 20% of all profits will support social emotional and mental wellness programming: 10% locally and 10% in cacao growing regions. The initial regions and cacao farmer producers — all of whom produce ethically and sustainably on a small scale — featured in the shop will be:

● Costa Rica: Sibu Chocolate
● Trinidad and Tobago: Alliance of Rural Communities of Trinidad & Tobago (ARCTT), Sun
Eaters, La Réunion, Brasso Seco, Grande Rivière, and Biche and Cushe
● Grenada: The Grenada Chocolate Company

Yet for Thaler, chocolate is never the end, but rather the means. She explains, “The cacao industry has a bittersweet past that often devalues those who produce and process the cacao at-origin. Our goal is not only to make products that shift that paradigm, but also to use the story and process of chocolate production to zoom-in and zoom-out on our own lives. To recall our feelings of being put down or empowered and then to rethink our values, choices, and actions and the impact they have on others near and far. We can’t walk in others’ shoes, but we can recall our emotions and make personal and professional choices rooted in compassion and care over harm to self and others.”

Gillian Goddard, Co-Founder, Co-Director of The Alliance of Rural Communities and SunEaters, Activist Chocolate Maker located in Trinidad and Tobago shared, ‘For us at ARC (The Alliance of Rural Communities) it’s been a godsend having the constantly expanding relationship with ThePod by CocoaCompassion. It’s SO much easier collaborating with someone who gets it. Who understands that producing at origin begins, bit by bit, to help unravel the long colonial structure of extraction. Thank you Joy for what you do!’’

Growing Leaders through Chocolate
Thaler has been putting that mission into action with MyPodGrows, a virtual leadership program for young adults that took place virtually this past summer with students from The Honey Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service at The George Washington University (GWU). Tonya Sosa, a junior at GWU majoring in statistics and computer science, shared, “Through the lens of cacao, I have learned significantly about the cocoa industry, the importance of having a creative outlet, connections with communities, and I have evaluated my own values.” Connecting with college students and those entering the workforce is a priority for Thaler. She sees the passion they have for making a difference, and she also sees the struggles they face in making choices that are aligned with their values, yet may not be what prior generations want for them. Thaler shared, “Holding the tension between these polar opposite spaces and finding a middle path is the magic.”

More Than a Chocolate Shop
ThePod is another way to expand that mission and bring it to life in-person. In addition to shopping and learning, visitors to ThePod will be able to enjoy the PodArt gallery, which features artists who use art as a tool to manage and support their mental health and wellness goals. The first artist to be featured in the PodArt gallery will be Dan Neiman who shares that “Photography is an art form that is enjoyable and helpful in a number of different ways. It provides me with a creative outlet, a community of friends; from fellow photographers to anybody that enjoys my work. Photography provides freedom through structure, which is critical to my mental well being.”

ThePod will also host hands-on creative expression events, from writing workshops to upcycling with cacao byproducts.

Most of all, ThePod aims to be a space for community, connection, and co-creation. There will be a seating area that hosts small group conversations and is rentable by small groups for independent or facilitated off-site meetings or team-building events. Thaler sees ThePod not as a “finished product” but as a “work in progress,” and all who are anything from curious to passionate about chocolate, self-expression, or compassionate change are warmly invited to stop in starting on February 7, 2022

11 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
February 7, 2022
Business Hours: opening week Monday 12pm – 4pm
Tuesday 3pm – 7pm Wednesday 12pm – 7pm Thursday 12pm – 7pm
Friday 12pm – 8pm Saturday 10 am -7pm Sunday 11am – 4pm

The PodArt gallery is looking for artists! If making art has helped you grow, heal, or seek mental and emotional wellness, and you want to share your creation, please reach out to info@cocoacompassion.com

4 Comments

  1. Wishing you good fortune in this endeavor.
    This looks like a wonderful opportunity to enjoy this experience using all of our senses!

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