This Chester chocolate shop is helping the world one sweet treat at a time

How this couple is helping the world with their sweet treat
Posted at 10:15 PM, Mar 09, 2022

CHESTER, Va. -- Chocolate is known around the world. To some, the sweet elixir is almost addictive. To others, it's a gift of love. But one Chester family is using chocolate not just for business, but to help the human race.

"My wife and I are the proud owners of Taylor Made Chocolate," Steve Taylor, the co-owner of the business, said.

It was a leap of faith that brought Steve and his wife together when they met in church. They were married back in 2005.

The two used Steve's 401K to start the chocolate business.

The magic begins in the back with the bean.

"Most chocolatiers do one roasting with their beans and we do three roastings and because of that, our flavors are really complex," Steve said.

It's a complexity, that he says, customers can taste.

"Your typical grocery store chocolate is required by law to have at least 11% cocoa, most are 12, 13% cocoa. So our chocolate bars typically have three to five times more cocoa in it than your average store-bought chocolate," Steve said.

The store opened in November of 2017.

How this couple is helping the world with their sweet treat

"By the end of this month, we will mold our 100,000th chocolate bar," Steve said.

Despite the delicious product, there is more to their business than just selling chocolate.

"This past year, we brought in 10,000 pounds of cocoa beans that directly helped about 50 families to keep their families together," Steve said.

Taylor Made is about lending a helping hand, starting with where they buy their cocoa beans.

"So 80% of all cocoa beans raised around the world are touched using child or slave labor," Steve said. "If you eat a chocolate bar that costs less than $2, most likely, it was touched by child or slave labor."

Steve and his wife purposely buy their cocoa beans from Haiti.

How this couple is helping the world with their sweet treat

"What we wanted to do was to be able to go in and pay what's called fair trade wages to farmers so they can keep their family units together," Steve said.

So while they say they helped 50 families, they likely helped many more.

"In addition to that, there's a ripple effect helping another 200 families," Steve said.

Steve said that slave and child labor is one of the many reasons that many are buying artisan chocolate.

"People are making a socially-conscious decision that they don't want to buy chocolate that's touched by slave labor," Steve said.

It's not just Haiti where the Taylors are making a difference, but also locally in trying to help deter human trafficking.

"If somebody is rescued from human trafficking in the Richmond area and they are not given another job vocation, they'll return to that 75% of the time," Steve said.

To address this problem, Taylor Made Chocolate offers job training.

How this couple is helping the world with their sweet treat

"You leave our company with training in production, world-class manufacturing experience and you also leave with training in foodservice preparation," Steve said.

With so much chocolate, it's not easy to pick a favorite.

"Our number one seller is the hot chocolate bombs," Steve said. "Our number two sellers are our chocolate bars. Number three is our truffles. We've learned the more unique the flavors are, the better they sell."

Taylor Made has teamed up with other local businesses to make some winning combinations.

"It's a pretty big business for us partnering with different vineyards and different other companies, using their products," Steve said.