Art Pollard, founder of Amano Artisan Chocolate, is a hands-on kind of guy with a keen eye for quality and a passion for connecting with farmers and getting to the source of the bean. He travels the world looking for the highest quality cacao beans and searching for the farmers that grow with their hearts.
Based in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range in the heart of the Rockies, Amano is dedicated to creating some of the world’s most exquisite chocolate through traditional techniques. “Amano means ‘by hand’ and ‘they love’ in Italian, and that describes the care and perfection that Amano brings to chocolate and in turn to the people who savor it.”
Pollard visits plantations, forms deep and long-lasting relationships with farmers, and even helps them improve their processes to raise the standard of their cacao beans.
Recently, we sat down with Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate to discover how he got his start and what drives him to continue searching the world for the best cacao.
Did Amano start with with single-origin chocolate products using cacao from Madagascar and Venezuela?
Amano launched with two chocolate bars which were quickly followed up by a third. First we launched with Ocumare (Venezuela) then brought in cacao from Madagascar. Soon after that, we added Cuyagua to the mix. The flavors of the cocoa from all these places is exceptional and made for a solid base of products for us to launch our company with.
We heard that you pay to your suppliers nearly double the Fair-Trade standard. Could you tell us what your motivation is to do so?
Our goal is to make the world's finest chocolate. To do that, we use only the world's finest cocoa. And while there are many who say they do, often that isn't the truth. But in our case, we ensure it is. As you can imagine, to get the best cocoa, you have to pay a premium — often a hefty premium. The beautiful thing is that this premium, in almost all circumstances, ends up going to the farmer. Often with certified companies, a good part of what you pay for is the certification, and that's also where much of your money as a consumer goes. I'm a huge fan of working with the farmers to increase their quality and then they get to earn and keep the money that is paid as a premium for exceptional quality beans. No certifications are needed and no additional people are need to enter the supply chain. It really is a win-win situation.
The amazing thing to me is watching the personal pride of the farmers we work with grow and develop as they come to understand that their cocoa is used by one of the world's finest chocolates, and that their beans were part of a chocolate that won awards in the U.S., Europe or Asia. It helps them realize that despite their remote location, people throughout the world are enjoying what they produce and that they too are creating world-class products.
Which of the many awards that Amano has received are you the proudest of and why?
We've won over 200 first-place awards from competitions in the United States, Europe and Asia. I am always humbled when we receive an additional award because it means we are doing something right. Even so, the greatest awards are when we take chocolate back to the farmers we work with. The joy in their eyes when they taste chocolate made with their cocoa, and when they understand that the chocolate made with their cocoa has won one or more prestigious awards, is priceless. Having an 80-year-old farmer describe the flavor of the chocolate made with his cocoa as being "like a river" because, "it takes you to all these wild and wondrous places and the flavor goes on and on like a river." is truly the greatest award that I could ever receive.
What was the role of Clark Globe in founding the Amano company?
Clark is my right hand man. While I'm off exploring the world for the best cocoa, attending trade shows, or making the chocolate, Clark is holding down the fort and making sure that things run smoothly. While I'm often the face of the company, Clark plays an amazingly large role that is critically important. He should truly get far more credit and attention than he does. Many thanks for all his hard work.
What has working with Micelli Molds brought to the table with regard to your business?
Micelli has been absolutely wonderful to work with. John Micelli is a truly great guy. He cares about his customers and bends over backwards to ensure that their projects are successful both in terms of the quality of their finished molds but also in terms of when they are delivered and meeting any timelines that may be present. I've had nothing but exceptional things to say about Micelli Molds and all their employees since day one, and I expect that to be the case far into the future. The world would be a much better place if there were more companies like Micelli. Really.
What is your most favorite Amano chocolate?
We don't put anything out into the market unless it is exceptional. They are all my babies. I love each and every one. It isn't about which one is my favorite but which is perhaps my favorite right now. When you've stayed in the homes of many of the farmers that you get your beans from, or slaved away through many of the trials to get the beans and then make the chocolate, you can't help but form an emotional attachment. Especially when the finished chocolate turns out to possess that bit of magic that makes it extra special.
For The Love of Making Chocolate,
The Micelli Team