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Chocolate makers with conscience

Xocolatl /ˈʃoʊ·koʊ· lət·(ə)l/: Artisanal chocolate blending exceptional taste with ethics. Presented by Chase for Business.

minute read

    Real customers compensated.


    In the bustling city of Atlanta, a small but mighty chocolate company is making waves far beyond the borders of taste. Xocolatl is not just another chocolate maker. It's a pioneer in a movement that unites the rich indulgence of chocolate with the richness of community values and environmental respect.


    A reboot in the rainforest

    "Our journey started with a reboot," says Elaine Read, who along with her husband, Matt Weyandt, founded Xocolatl. After long careers in politics and nonprofits, the couple was looking for a change. They found it when they packed up their two young kids and traded urban life in Atlanta for a small town in Costa Rica.

    "As we started living there, we really became enamored with the bean-to-bar craft chocolate that was being made locally," Elaine says. Every Saturday morning, the family would head to the local farmers market, where they not only fell in love with the chocolate but started building friendships with the producers.

    "We took tours up in their cacao farms, even got the chance to work with them a little in making chocolate in their facilities," she says. "And we got really inspired by the thought of bringing this type of pure, ethically and transparently sourced chocolate back to our own local community in Atlanta."

    In their final months in Costa Rica, the pair laid the groundwork for starting their new business, remotely locating their first factory and lining up the cacao farmers who would make up the most important components of their supply chain. Once they got back to Atlanta, the only thing left was to put it all into motion.


    Igniting Atlanta's chocolate revolution

    "We signed a lease before we'd ever sold a bar of chocolate," Matt admits. That leap of faith helped them turn a 400-square-foot micro-factory inside the Krog Street Market food hall into Atlanta's beloved home-grown bean-to-bar craft chocolate company.

    When they built out their original micro-factory, Matt and Elaine kept customer engagement and education in mind. An open setup allowed customers to see past the counter directly to where the team was roasting and grinding beans and tempering bars — the entire process of chocolate making from start to finish.

    "We wanted to create a space where the community could engage with our craft and understand the origins of our products," says Matt. Now that Xocolatl has expanded its operations to include a much larger factory where most of the chocolate is now made — and has converted the micro-factory into Atlanta's only bean-to-chocolate bonbon factory — the company remains committed to transparency, extending it into the sustainability space.

    Now that Xocolatl has expanded its operations to include a much larger factory where most of the chocolate is now made — and has converted the micro-factory into Atlanta's only bean-to-chocolate bonbon factory — the company remains committed to transparency, extending it into the sustainability space.


    Ingredients of impact

    At Xocolatl, every bean has a backstory of empowerment and equity. The company pays a premium to its cacao farmers, ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their hard work. And with a team of 14 dedicated employees, Xocolatl has cultivated an environment that fosters growth, community and a shared vision for a better world.

    That includes the natural world as Xocolatl completes a significant milestone: becoming certified as a climate-neutral company. "We've measured, reduced and offset all of our carbon emissions — from the chocolate-making process to delivering it to all of our customers. We've accomplished this by improving our operations, investing in carbon-capture technologies and purchasing renewable energy credits," Matt explains.

    "We find it really motivating that we're able to offer a choice for people who prioritize sustainability in the environment," Elaine says. She adds that, to Xocolatl, being a good corporate citizen also means investing in the local community. The company offers free facility tours and programming to Atlanta public schools and has supported hundreds of small local nonprofits over the years.

    While the health benefits of chocolate might not be the loudest part of the company's marketing, they are a point of pride. Xocolatl's products are crafted with an emphasis on natural goodness and pure ingredients, adding one more rich layer to its people-centered approach.


    Backed by their banking relationship

    Working with Chase from the start, Xocolatl appreciates streamlined banking solutions. "We've had Chase accounts basically since we opened," says Matt, highlighting the ease of financial transactions as the business has evolved.

    "As we've grown, Chase has grown with us," he says, "and they bring the experience to guide us as we go. We're educating people about chocolate, and they're educating us about finance."

    When it comes to specific solutions, Elaine notes that they rely on Chase mainly for banking. "We've had checking and savings accounts with Chase, as well as a credit card," says Elaine, who is quick to point out that the people are part of what makes the relationship work.

    "I think it's easy to assume Chase is just a bank, but they really want to get to know us," she adds.


    Part of that genuine relationship is the warmth and care that she sees in every interaction. "The attitude and personality of the folks who work at Chase have been really pleasant. In fact, all of the Chase employees at both of our branches are delights to work with," Elaine says.


    An even sweeter future

    Looking ahead, Xocolatl is continuing to expand its reach and impact. "I'd like even more people to become more aware of us and the sustainable options we provide," Elaine says.

    She and Matt are close to finishing a tasting room in their factory and growing the bonbon and truffle production line that they just launched. This product line will give Xocolatl a new customer base to tap into, educate and inspire with the world of craft chocolate.

    At the heart of the company's growth remain the pillars of sustainability, education and community, along with an unwavering commitment to making the world a sweeter place — in every sense of the word.

    For more inspiration and tips for starting and growing your business, visit the Chase Knowledge Center or speak with a Chase business banker.