Interview by Tiffany Evers // Photos by Kelsey Walters
We all do pretty much everything. That way if someone needs to stay home, the chocolate making continues. However, each of us has our specialties.
Kathryn: While we all come up with ideas for new flavors, it’s Kathryn’s job, as chocolatier, to make them work. Like formulating each of the different alcohol fillings we use for our After 5 Chocolates. Most of our original truffle recipes come from her recipes.
Charlotte: Without Charlotte’s ability to package the products so they have eye appeal and travel well to their destinations, we would be lost. In addition to packaging, she makes sure the bills get paid.
Darlene: Darlene’s main focus is marketing. She attends all the chamber functions and networking events that she can manage. The other aspect of her marketing is to make the labels for the chocolate bars, so that they’re attractive and interesting. She has become the face of Sappho, although if we’re out somewhere at a social event people will come up to any one of us and say, “You’re one of the chocolate ladies!”
Q: Like any small business there is a story behind what inspired you to begin. What is your story?
A: With a conversation around a kitchen table. Kathryn used to travel the world for her tech job. She was usually the only female with a group of men, while the men visited the local watering holes, Kathryn visited restaurants, bakeries and chocolate makers. She learned a great deal about making chocolate and found it was a wonderful way to relax when she wasn’t working.Then she began sending family and friends her chocolates for special occasions.
One Christmas, Charlotte and Darlene were sitting around the kitchen table in Kathryn’s home, helping her package chocolates to be sent as presents. Of course, they were sampling chocolates as well as packing them. It didn’t take long for one of them to ask Kathryn, “Why aren’t you selling these?” Thus, Sappho Chocolates was born. That same table is now a part of Sappho’s kitchen and is where manyconversations about business decisions are held.
Q: How long have you been creating these delicious chocolates?
A: Kathryn started making chocolates as a treat for friends and family a couple of decades ago.With each trip to Europe for her tech job, she picked up new tips and ideas from chocolatiers. Sappho Chocolates has been in business a little over five years.
Q: Is there a meaning behind the name Sappho?
A: We researched a long list of possible names for our company. None of the domain names were available. One day Kathryn was talking about the five weeks she spent in Greece. One of the places she visited while there was Sappho’s home island. Sappho was an ancient Greek poet – the most lauded of her time. Kathryn and Darlene both write poetry and when we looked, the domain name was available. Done!
Q: I hear so much about cocoa content, what does that mean?
A: Cocoa content is the percentage of cacao in a particular chocolate.As a rule, a higher cocoa content equates to a more intense chocolate flavor and lower sugar content. However, higher cocoa content does not mean a great tasting chocolate.While many excellent chocolates have high percentages of cocoa so do many inferior chocolates.
Q: Are there different levels of quality in chocolates?
A: High quality chocolate breaks cleanly and melts uniformly. Good chocolate should feel smooth on the tongue and melt into a lingering velvety finish.The process begins with good quality cocoa beans
that are harvested when they become mature.The beans must be properly fermented, dried, roasted, crushed and conched. Failure at any of these steps will produce inferior chocolate.
Q: Is dark chocolate actually healthy for you?
A: Good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60 percent or higher is significantly beneficial to your health. Just an ounce a day provides essential vitamins and trace nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A, B1, C, D and E. Chocolate contains flavonoids, part of a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols.
Antioxidants delay the aging process at the cellular level and are believed to guard against cancer. Flavonoids are directly related to pigmentation.The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidants will be. Milk bonds to antioxidants during digestion, therefore milk chocolate is not considered a source of antioxidants. Recent research shows chocolate flavonoids encourage vascular wall improvement and blood vessel function. Chocolate may also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. It contains both stearic and oleic acids – one is a saturated fat which will not raise bad cholesterol, and the other which may raise good cholesterol.
Q: Do you have vegan chocolates?
A: Yes. We have a single-source Ecuadoran chocolate that is vegan. Also the sweetener is coconut sugar, which has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar.
Q: Are your chocolates allergen free?
A: Our regular chocolate is manufactured and packaged in facilities that DO NOT allow exposure to peanuts, wheat/gluten, eggs, tree nuts, sesame, fish or crustacean. Our chocolates DO contain soy lecithin, although our supplier is moving away from soy lecithin and will soon be using sunflower lecithin. We cannot claim that our single-source vegan chocolate is allergen-free because it is at times stored in a warehouse that may also be storing nuts, peanuts, and or milk products.Therefore, there is always the risk of contamination. We do not allow nuts in our kitchen either. Our Indonesian chocolate is Kosher, though our kitchen is not certified Kosher.
Q: What sets you apart from other places that sell chocolates?
A: What sets us apart from other places that sell chocolates are a couple of different things. One, our chocolates are virtually allergen- free and two, we can create a custom mold for almost anything. For large molds, we may have to outsource it.
Q: If someone is interested in ordering a custom design, what is the ordering process and turnaround time involved?
A: The process starts with a look at what the image is that the client wants turned into a mold.The first thing we need from the client is either a high resolution black and white JPG image, or better still,
an SVG file of the image. If it’s a JPG, then we’ll convert that into an SVG. Then we’ll do a 3D print of the image.
The next step is to drill tiny holes in the 3D print. This allows for better suction when we put it on the vacuum forming machine. The vacuum forming machine melts the food grade plastic enough so that it will form around the 3D print. After that, it’s simply a matter of cleaning the mold and then filling it with chocolate. The turnaround time can vary depending on how many chocolates we need to make. We need six to eight weeks from the time we get the image or the SVG file from the client, depending on the complexity of the design.