The Pod by CocoaCompassion Makes Chocolate for Good in Westchester

Socially responsible chocolate: It’s a thing, and The Pod by CocoaCompassion in Dobbs Ferry is creating it.

The Pod by CocoaCompassion in Dobbs Ferry graces Cedar Street with a circular sign over the entrance, but pass through the door and you walk into otherworldly scents. The chocolate, made onsite, represents a complex and ever-evolving relationship for Joy Thaler, owner, manufacturer, and proprietor. Her shop’s confections, art, and craftwork are expressions of her passion for ensuring that artisans and cacao farmers across South America, Africa, and Asia are treated well.

“Every product here is rooted in some form of social impact,” Thaler says. She sources 185-pound burlap bags of cacao beans from Tanzania before roasting, cracking, winnowing, tempering, molding, and grinding the cacao at the store. The resulting product becomes the store’s Foraged and Pod line of products (cocoa mix, chocolate bars, nibs, and other seasonal products). The store’s Compassion cookies are quietly famous. Products are extended to neighbors such as Dobbs Ferry’s Climbing Wolf café and as far as Baltimore’s foraged. a hyper-seasonal eatery, a 2023 James Beard Award semi-finalist.

chocolate
By Joy Thaler

Also, 20% of profits from the in-house processed chocolate goes toward mental health and wellness organizations in the New York City metro area. Thaler’s sourcing methods create profitable markets for these cacao producers that they might not otherwise have.

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“I can’t walk in your shoes,” Thaler says, “but we can make decisions that are rooted in compassion.” Indeed, there is a joyful feeling of collective work and creative expression at The Pod. Multiple announcements for readings, workshops, and talks are posted on the store’s façade.

And, yes, let’s not forget, The Pod houses top-quality chocolate from at-origin sites around the planet. Farmers from across the globe ship their manufactured chocolate products to Thaler after seeding, growing, harvesting, drying, and fermenting it in their communities.

The Theo & Philo 65% dark chocolate with black sesame and glazed Pili nuts from the Philippines can be brain-altering. The Sun Eater’s Organics 80% premium chocolate from Trinidad and Tobago is a mini-vacation to sun and forest. The Pod’s Compassion Chocolate Chip cookie can be savored by two people but is often coveted and inhaled instantly.

chocolate
By Joy Thaler

Thaler suggests a common-sense comparison of chocolate ingredients found at her store and those found in a typical chocolate bar. The ingredient list on back of a chocolate bar from Trinidad and Tobago at The Pod reads: cocoa beans, organic sugar, and cocoa butter. “That’s all you need to make a [chocolate] bar,” Thaler says. A later look at an American top chocolate producer reveals additional items — soy lecithin, chocolate flavoring, added colors, milk, and PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate) — related to processing and cost-effectiveness.

Thaler admits she loves aspects of her previous work in quantitative analytics for financial markets. “I love research. I love information,” she says, but she’s aware chocolate’s $150 billion industry has historically not passed fair share of that value back to the farmer. “Many of these [cacao-growing] regions want to make finished products. They want to become part of the supply chain,” she says.

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Cacao farmers can gain more self-worth and value from making and distributing products from their own backyards, which can improve mental health and even have ripple effects, helping strengthen the community as a whole.

Store goods
By Greg Thomas

Located in the heart of the Dobbs Ferry community, The Pod by CocoaCompassion takes a step forward toward recognizing the value of cacao-farming communities and encouraging consciousness-raising for the global community.

The Pod by CocoaCompassion
11 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry

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