By Jake Gandolfi
Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates, borrowing their name from the river along which the city sits, is now just as much a part of the Asheville identity as the river itself. One visit to their Chocolate Lounge right in the heart of downtown and you will understand why. Chocolate lovers can indulge in a vast array of artisan truffles, caramels, cookies and cakes, as well as house made ice cream and an entire menu of drinking chocolates. Leaving no one out of the experience, they also offer plenty of vegan and gluten-free choices, too. All of which is made by them right here in Asheville! Many of Earth Equity Advisors’ friends and clients are familiar with the chocolatier as a choice provider of birthday gifts for several years now.
But what makes FBC a “quintessential Asheville experience,” to use their own words? Owners Dan and Jael Rattigan have molded a chocolate making process defined by integrity, love, and gratitude, along with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. They use environmentally friendly packaging whenever possible and share their cacao shell mulch to support local soil fertility. When it comes to sourcing their cacao throughout Central America and Peru, they pay above commodity prices, in a way to nurture long-lasting relationships with farmers and suppliers. Just like Earth Equity Advisors, their commitment to responsible business practices has earned FBC Certified B Corporation status, an honor reserved for businesses truly devoted to doing good for the world.
Lately, however, all the buzz has been around the opening of FBC’s new factory, where we had the chance to visit in January. It was a terrific experience. Immediately upon stepping out of your car in the parking lot of their new space next to RAMP Studios, the rich aroma of roasted cacao fills the air. We were greeted upon arrival by our tour guide, Mike, who also serves as Director of Sales. After putting on our stylish hair nets, we went room to room full of big machinery, chocolatey aroma, and smiling faces, all the while Mike recounted in succinct detail the process in which their chocolate is made. According to Mike, this new factory, once fully operational, will catapult FBC’s yearly chocolate output from 19 tons to 250 tons!
After the tour, we sat down for a cup of coffee in the café. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the factory also serves as a café, offering all of FBC’s treats right out of the factory? If seeing the chocolate being made wasn’t enough, you can even sit down right afterwards and enjoy it fresh. It was a fine way to end a great visit, and I recommend to anybody thinking of visiting Asheville to consider taking a tour (offered daily) of this new facility. If you value being just as socially and environmentally responsible as we do, you can feel good about yourself supporting Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates.