Harper Macaw Proudly Joins DC’s Emerging Food Scene
December 5, 2015
Washington DC has always been known for its history, politics, free museums and, of course, the Washington Monument. In short, it hasn’t always been considered as rousing as a larger city like New York or LA. Within the last ten years, however, it has become a destination not only for history-loving tourists, but for foodies from every stretch of the imagination. Where DC was once rife with steakhouses and power lunch spots, there are now a slew of restaurants from big name chefs like Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Wolfgang Puck, and Michael Mina. Not to mention the cultural diversity prevalent in a food scene that used to embrace American cuisine so wholeheartedly.
High end markets and artisanal producers have also been on the rise, making everything from pickles, fresh juices and charcuterie, to jams, bone broth and kombucha. Food incubators such as Mess Hall and Union Kitchen have made it possible for many different local craftsmen and women to work in a shared space and crank out their hibiscus teas, pastas and chocolate bars. This emergence of locally crafted wares has made DC an exciting place to live when all of these handmade options are readily available. It gives all of us Washingtonians a sense of pride in our city--a pride that has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. Finally something we can all agree on.
In 2013, Sarah and Colin Hartman decided to start a chocolate factory; the only question was, where? Having lived or studied in Brazil, Philadelphia, New York and North Carolina, they had their pick of cities in which to set down roots. They took all of the above into consideration, but one other city found its way to the top of the list. Washington DC held a certain nostalgia since they had spent much of their dating years in separate cities, meeting halfway between New York City and Camp Lejeune, NC. DC had clearly arrived on the food scene, but its market was not so saturated that a new concept would find it difficult to break in. There were other craft chocolate makers and chocolatiers such as Undone and Coco Sala that had already begun to pave the way for the public to have a taste for fine chocolate. And the city felt friendly, beautiful and liveable. It was a perfect fit and a perfect place to build a chocolate factory.
As an integral part of the Harper Macaw concept, Colin and Sarah wanted to give back to the rainforests where their cacao trees were grown. Currently, the beans we use come from Brazil, a country whose cacao is both uniquely flavored and uniquely underrepresented in the craft chocolate world. In the 1980’s, a disease called witches’ broom wiped out 75% of Brazil’s cacao population. This devastated not only the crops, but also the livelihood of many farmers. With the desire to offer fine Brazilian chocolate, and also to help rebuild the rainforest, it was easy to fall in line with DC’s socially conscious population and do just that. The number of NGO’s and NPO’s, such as The World Cocoa Foundation, in DC is staggering and it was not long before Harper Macaw found ideal partners with The Rainforest Trust and The American Bird Conservancy.
The few craft chocolate makers and chocolatiers in the DC area have helped draw attention away from mass produced chocolate and toward finer quality chocolate. But as a chocolate factory, we are doing something never before seen in DC. We have the capability of producing chocolate on a larger scale, while still taking care of the process start to finish. Our goal, always, is to produce the finest quality chocolate with a focus on perfect texture and flavor. At the factory, we are excited to host tours, classes and parties to educate people on the chocolate making and tasting process. We are looking forward to seeing peoples’ awarenesses and tastes grow and develop. We couldn’t be happier to see the faces of the next generation of kids who will grow up with fine chocolate as a treat, chocolate savants from an early age. But we are mostly thrilled to be doing all of this here in our home. The District.
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