Homegrown Business: Mara Mennicken of The GOOD Chocolatier

The GOOD Chocolatier is exactly the way it sounds, making chocolate that is both good to the taste and good for your health. Valuing the importance of ethically sourced cocoa, local ingredients and no preservatives you can feel GOOD when fulfilling your chocolate cravings with one of their bars. We connected with owner Mara Mennicken to find out more.

The GOOD Chocolatier

What is your business called and what does it do? 

My business is called The GOOD Chocolatier and as the name says, we make GOOD Chocolate – some people say it’s the best chocolate so we might have to change our name soon 😉 By GOOD, we mean a product that is made with ethically sourced, organic cacao, no preservatives or highly processed ingredients, local ingredients whenever we can, and minimal processing to preserve cacao’s natural benefits. The list goes on, but you can find out for yourself when you try them!

What made you want to do this work? 

Well, I love eating chocolate. The issue with my habit before The GOOD Chocolatier was just that I had no idea what chocolate really is, and how wonderfully healthy it can be when made with the right ingredients and processes. That changed when I met French Chocolatier Pierre Gruget in 2015. I asked him to volunteer for him to get chocolate in exchange.. two years later I took over the business when he decided to move back to France. I learned everything about craft chocolate from him and fell in love with the process and values behind artisan chocolate.

What problem did you want to solve with the business? 

On one hand, I wanted to spread the love for craft chocolate and all the knowledge behind it after Pierre left, so more people would start to enjoy healthy chocolate that makes them feel epic, instead of lethargic after a short sugar high. But the initial push to take over the business and make it a mission is our now social enterprise. During my Community Leadership & Social Change studies I learned about social enterprises and how they operate to solve social and environmental problems. I was captivated by this model and wanted to give it a try- chocolate seemed like the perfect treat to do so.

Who are your clientele/demographics? 

I want to say everyone because it’s chocolate, but of course, our repeat customers have some commonalities. Mostly women, mid to high-income, health-conscious and outdoorsy with a refined pallet.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We make our craft cacao bars from scratch and sell them via various channels, such as online, wholesale to 35 BC-based supermarkets, 1 healthy vending machine on Vancouver Island, a handful of gift baskets and in our shop on W Broadway. Since we are all about chocolate education, we also host regular chocolate-making classes for private bookings and corporate events.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

All over! There are around 25 chocolate-makers and chocolatiers in Vancouver, and we all make them a little different.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

To me, transparency about the origin of the bean, high ethical and environmental standards, the process, and ingredients are the most important (lol, that covers pretty much everything xD). My top questions would be:

– Where are your beans from?

If they know the origin, type, and farm they come from, fantastic! If not, at least the country or
some certifications to prove it comes from ethical sources.

– Are you using real cacao butter or substitutes (such as palm oil, canola, soy, wax…)

Must have cacao butter! It’s so gold of the bean, the most expensive part but also nutritious & delicious. Everything else is a way to take shortcuts, which unfortunately leads to a lower quality, potentially unhealthy product.

– Are you making your chocolate from scratch (chocolate-maker) or are you melting couverture and just mixing flavours (chocolatier)

For some people, couverture might be okay. But I know that to make a product as high in quality as we do, we have to melt, mix, and grind from scratch – there is simply no couverture out there that fits our needs.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part? 

The best part is definitely the happy customers. Chocolate just makes you happy, and if it’s healthier, with better ingredients, organic & fair trade, people often leave extra happy. This, plus the impact we make by creating employment for neurodiverse adults, makes the job really rewarding!

The worst is that not everyone has a refined pallet yet or is looking for a healthier option- so we continuously have to convert people 😛

What is your favourite joke about your own profession? 

When people ask me what my favourite chocolate is, I usually say that my favourite chocolate is breakfast chocolate! And it’s true, healthy craft chocolate is all that your commercial chocolate is not, and can be enjoyed in the morning, guilt-free. It provides tons of antioxidants, energy, focus, and happiness… what better way is there to start a busy workday?

Where can we follow you? 

We write GOOD and delicious emails so sign up to our newsletter and enjoy 10% off on your first order! Besides that, Instagram and LinkedIn are also very fun and informative.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love? 

I love Yoggu! It goes so well with raw cacao nibs in the morning it’s a must-have in my fridge. The founder, Jade, is also super amazing and it’s impressive what she has achieved, all the while still making the Yoggu from scratch.