If technology allowed, you could bet that Glen Davies would have attached a sample of chocolate to this page. Instead he gave six Wild Mountain Chocolate bars to the Pioneer, cleverly ensuring that this story would be written while the darkly delicious treat melted on one lucky reporter’s tongue.
Mr. Davies and his wife Helen opened their bean-to-bar chocolate factory a year and a half ago. Now he said “everyone recognizes us as the chocolate family.”
Even their children have corporate roles. At 12 years old, their daughter Adele is on the payroll.
“She loves putting on her apron and her hairnet,” he said. “She feels like an adult working on the production line. It’s really cute.”
Adele offers her expertise on everything from colour selections for the wrappers to slogans. Her motto is: “We should eat good chocolate every day.”
Their son Edward, 10, focuses his efforts on quality control and enjoying the end product.
“He would come in and have a chocolate bar every day. He has unlimited access,” Mr. Davis said, adding that Edward is so generous with his bounty that “he’s our chief chocolate sharer and distributer.”
While the Davies’ company is based in Invermere, the family has global aspirations. They see chocolate as the new wine and want to share its flavour profile with the masses.
“Look at how we treat wine,” he said, adding that with twice the flavour profile “these wonderful beans… are way more complex than any grape.”
The Davies arrived in the Valley in 2015 when Ms. Davies accepted a position as the chief financial officer for Kicking Horse Coffee. Ms. Davies had kayaked through the Valley years earlier, and the family was eager to settle into a small town environment.
The first year they were in the Valley, the Davies were looking for a business. They looked at everything from bike shops to boat shops but nothing seemed like a match.
Then they watched the documentary Semisweet: Life In Chocolate about mistreatment in the industry and
were struck with a thought: What if they could do chocolate right?
That’s a question they’ve since answered to the max, sourcing chocolate from farmer coops representing “natural family farms that are using good ethics.”
Mr. Davies carries a cup of coffee as he gives a tour of the facility. His cup holds the only milk in the place. The chocolate bars are vegan, gluten free and “as clean as it gets,” he said.
Their ingredients are simple: just cocoa beans, cocoa butter and cane sugar. All organic, of course.
Their flavoured bars have one extra ingredient each: natural orange oil, natural peppermint oil or organic coffee beans.
The factory is a mix of temperature-controlled rooms, gigantic vats of chocolate in various stages of production and complicated machinery, the likes of which Mr. Davies used to sell in his former career in electrical automation sales.
Even a 0.1 degree change in temperature could spoil a batch so he’s constantly monitoring for temperature, humidity and more.
“Chocolate is super complex but I’m a technical guy so it suits me really well,” he said. “It’s not always glamorous working with chocolate… In the end it’s a factory.”
The cooler is stacked with nine tonnes of beans. Any given bean will spend five days as it moves from bean to bar.
First there’s the sorting process where the Davies and their staff of three touch every single bean. Then the beans get roasted, cracked, ground, tempered, poured into molds, cooled and finally wrapped and sent on their way.
“We think it’s the right product at the right time in the right place,” he said.
Chocolate and the Valley go together as smoothly as chocolate and … anything.
It’s an ideal pairing, he said, because there’s a dry climate to store the beans, others in the community have roasting expertise, there’s a romantic appeal to purchasing a product processed in such a charming location, and local foodies and businesses are “giving us masses of support and advice.”
Locals also happen to make up a perfect market since they generally are health conscious and care about eating good quality products.
“The support in the local community has been absolutely fabulous,” he said.
It’s been so fabulous that Wild Mountain Chocolate will be knocking out a wall and expanding as the business continues to grow.
“We’re tickled pink. What a dream come true for us,” he said.