Dandelion Chocolate

Dandelion Chocolate

“We didn't know how chocolate was made, we didn't know the story about beans. We just started out with a love of chocolate…”

Our second event at Makeshift Society was on Thursday, March 11th with the co-founders of Dandelion Chocolate, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring. They kicked off the event with a high-level history of their company, and how small-batch chocolate is made.
dandelion chocolate detail


todd and cam introduce themselves
passing chocolate samples
passing around a cocoa pod

The audience got a hands-on lesson about where chocolate comes from: cacao pods! Up to 30-50 cocoa beans grow inside one cacao pod, which is, surprisingly, a fruit.

passing around a cocoa pod
cocoa beans detail

Roasted cocoa beans

The cocoa beans are fermented and dried, then roasted.

cam explains cocoa nibs

Cam teaches us about cocoa nibs

cocoa nibs

Inside the cocoa beans are cocoa nibs, which taste like a chocolate nut. Dandelion Chocolate is only made with cocoa nibs and sugar.

crowd sampling cocoa nibs
laura gets excited about chocolate tasting

I was really excited about the chocolate tasting.

The Dandelion Chocolate tasting set makes it easy to do a small tasting. We started with Patanemo, Venezuala, then tried Elvesia, Dominican Republic, and finished with Ambanja, Madagascar.

todd talks about their tasting set
passing chocolate samples

The audience enjoyed tasting small bites at a time, and comparing the flavors of each bar.

passing chocolate samples
passing chocolate samples

Todd and Cam work with farms directly to source their beans. They take fair labor practices seriously, and take measured steps to only work with farmers they trust.

the crowd from above todd and cam

Cam and Todd have known each other since 1997, when they met at Stanford. They worked together for eight or nine years as the co-founders of Plaxo. I asked, “What's your advice for a working partnership?” Their answer: establishing your core values, and learning how to deal when things inevitably go wrong.

todd and cam
todd and cam answer my questions
todd and cam answer laura's questions

If you're itching for a change, the most important thing you can do is find something you're passionate about, and pursue it. Don't give in to your fear–just go try some things, and remember to have fun. According to Cam, happiness what makes their chocolate taste so good.

todd and cam answer my questions
audience member holding cacao pod
audience mingling
audience mingling

View all the event photos on Flickr. Photos by Rob Nero. Video by Brittney Shepherd. Music by Forest Magic. Sponsored by the best damn email newsletter service, Mailchimp.

Thank you, Todd and Cam, for sharing your expertise (and chocolate!) with us. I couldn't have asked for a better guest, or a more generous audience. 

Until next time,

About Dandelion

Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory started by Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring in 2010. Previously, Todd and Cam founded the internet company Plaxo, which they sold to Comcast in 2008. Dandelion is one of the few small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate makers in America. They source cocoa beans directly and make finished chocolate from the bean, rather than molding and working with already finished chocolate. Visit their factory and cafe at 740 Valencia Street, and follow @dandelionchoco on Twitter for events and updates.

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