Tony, our daughter Catherine, and I wanted to find some great Valentine’s Day chocolate options for all of you. (And treat ourselves to some fun, of course!) So we taste-tested and now sharing our reactions. But, before we dig into that part of this post, you need to meet the owner of JoJo CoCo, Joanne. Her passion is truly inspiring. This lady knows chocolate, and she’s set to take you to that next level of not only quality, but experience.
“Chocolate is one of those things we had as kids,” shares Joanne. “We didn’t drink coffee, we didn’t drink wine. There are many things that we do now for pleasure – whether it’s the best cigar you can find, the best cup of coffee, or that fantastic tea, but those are all things that, generally speaking, we learned as we got older.”
“So they’re hand crafted, the ingredient list is much lower, and it doesn’t need to last on the shelf for three years.”
Joanne was working as a high-level, world travelling manager for IKEA when the idea of mastering chocolate came to mind.. She enrolled for a professional certification as a chocolatier from Ecole Chocolate, and studied during the quiet hours in hotel rooms while on business trips abroad. She came to see how her retail knowledge could couple her passion for good chocolate.
“There’s an interesting connection between people understanding better what they’re eating and asking a lot more questions about what they’re eating. And I don’t think I’m alone in my weakness for chocolate. There are a lot of people who still want to consume the product, but don’t want to consume the chocolate that they grew up with.”
Coupling quality, she also decided to highlight the unseen talent of Canadian chocolatiers.
“There’s a lot of great chocolate being made in Canada. I don’t think people are aware of that, because a lot of the time those chocolate makers are pretty much just in their own town.”
“It’s a scary thing to give up a really great salary with a worldwide organization.”
Following those ideas, Joanne made her way from her a world-travelling IKEA management job, and created a plan to start her own gourmet chocolate shop in Kanata.
“It’s a scary thing to give up a really great salary with a worldwide organization, but there was something in me. All along I knew that I needed to do something on my own. So my husband and I were out walking our big dog in the forest, and I just said to him – the time is now. I need to do it now.”
Joanne’s shop has a clear vision in offering really – and I mean really – good chocolate. When folks suggest she carry the Lindts and the Cherry Blossoms of the chocolate realm, she explains why it’s not done in her shop.
“There’s a lot of sentiment attached to chocolate. For me, it’s about what the customer is looking for and giving them that – as long as it fits into my business criteria – but also, raising the bar a little bit.”
“So I take what people are comfortable with, and expose them to something that’s new.”
Joanne shared a story about how her daughter always looks for the Terry’s Chocolate Orange in her stocking, and was worried now that her mom had opened a gourmet chocolate shop, that the oranges would stop.
“And I’m like, no; of course you’re going to get that. It kills me to buy it to give to you now, based on what I know. But of course you’re going to get that because it’s important to you.”
“But on the other hand, [as we grow older] we still want certain things that have the elements of orange and milk in it, but maybe now they’re bean to bar; so they’re hand crafted, the ingredient list is much lower, and it doesn’t need to last on the shelf for three years. So I take what people are comfortable with, and expose them to something that’s new.”
Now, what did Tony, Catherine and I try that was something new?
We tried Hummingbird Chocolate, which was delicious at 70% coco, and it’s sourced from Almonte. This was by far Tony’s favourite because of the sweetness. I would definitely be glad to eat more as well. Lovely.
Next, we tried Aviva, which was a large broad bar of 100% coco! No sugar ladies and gents, just chocolate. Catherine couldn’t stop helping herself to this one, neither could I. We’d put it in our mouths and just savoured its unique flavour. It’s not candy; it’s something far richer. I enjoyed the texture and chocolate sensation and feel that this will be a great choice to fulfill those cravings!
Then we tried Sirene which was also 100% coco, – to be fair – there was a nice paper inside the package saying it wasn’t for chocolate tourist, and it’s not. But, I thought it might be quite nice coupled with some great fruits, cheese or wine – which is perfect, because JoJo CoCo actually offers wine pairings with their chocolate. So, I wasn’t far off!
We also had some caramel salted truffles, one each. And they were . . . well, very, very good. Too good!
If you are looking for a Valentine ’s Day treat, pop over to JoJo CoCo (It’s a 4 minute drive from our office!) and treat yourself. I’m glad we did, and I know we’ll be doing it again.
And to Joanne, thank you so much for sharing your business story, and how you got into the world of chocolate. Personally speaking, I’m glad you did!
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Marcelle & Tony
PS: Leave us a comment and let us know which one is your favorite chocolate 🙂
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