On the way to the iconic Pictou County beach, named "Melmerby Beach", you might see a sign for Chapel Cove Chocolate on the side of the road. That’s where Allan Keefe has his chocolate factory. The “factory” is a commercial kitchen he installed in their new house after he and his wife, Jan, Nova Scotian ex-patriots at the time, decided to move back to the property where Jan grew up, in Little Harbour.
Allan and his wife had a chocolate shop in British Columbia and, with the cost of living sky-rocketing, they decided to simplify life. So they sold their shop, loaded up their truck (with their two horses in tow), and moved to picturesque "Chapel Cove" on the Northumberland Shore. Allan kept a chocolate machine thinking that chocolate-making would be a nice hobby. He placed some Easter Bunnies at the local store, and when the local celiac community found out that the chocolate was gluten free, they sold out!
He then approached the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market Cooperative to get a table and things started to heat up! Allan started making chocolate bars like ones from his youth, but with a grown-up take on them. Now they are available in a dozen stores around the County.
Chapel Cove Chocolate has joined with our major cacao supplier, Guittard Chocolate as a partner in their Cultivate Better(Tm) Cocoa project. This effort operates in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Peru to help small growers and co-operatives to increase their incomes. Most cacao farmers live in near poverty in West Africa, earning less than $3 per day. Caribbean and Latin America farmers face similar challenges. Through Cultivate Better Cocoa, we engage with cooperatives and development partners to create comprehensive and streamlined programs that empower cocoa farmers to improve their livelihoods,inspire better social conditions within local communities, and encourage environmental preservation.
All of these efforts are centred around protecting the unique, rich and diverse flavors of cocoa and
its long-term value to boost primary income streams of farmers. The premiums paid are directly
allocated to supporting farm-level quality and flavor investments, as well as gender equality, income
diversification, health, nutrition, and agri-forestry initiatives.
We continue to pay a premium of an extra $500 a tonne for cacao to help support this initiative. This gives them a higher income and helps with education and training to create a sustainable future. This makes us feel better about our participation in the global cacao trade which has gaps in its' supply chain. This premium based effort is to drive change in the system.
There's another reason we do this chocolate thing... Allan wants you to know that real chocolate made with real cocoa butter is good for you. However this isn’t just his belief: it’s backed up in scientific research. At his shop, quality chocolate, made in the European style, is made into chocolate bars, boxes, and bags of treats. And his products have certainly found a receptive audience.
Allan likes to stay true to his roots, so he makes some interesting chocolates with a maritime theme. He started with a Nova Scotia flag, which is created by printing a flag image made of cocoa butter right on the chocolate. His next creation was a chocolate lobster. Add some chocolate seashells in a gift box, and you’ve got a good memory of beach combing in Nova Scotia. These boxes were gifts from the Town of Pictou to the captains of the Tall Ships who visited Pictou Harbour a few summers ago.
This year is a big year for the Scottish settlers of Nova Scotia and particularly Pictou County. This is the 250th Anniversary of the landing in Pictou Harbour, of the Ship Hector, which brought over 100 settlers from Scotland! It's also the 150th anniversary of the Town of Pictou! And with the Highland games and the Gathering of the Clans, it is a big year for the Tartan. You will want some of our Tartan themed chocolate to take home! We now have a "I Heart NS" chocolate bar. Send one to someone who is not home but wants to be.
Quality and inclusiveness are important to us. We believe that it is important to make products that can satisfy different dietary restrictions so that everyone can enjoy an indulgence. To that end we searched out gluten free rice crisps so that there is as little a chance of cross contamination as there can be. Our chocolate is Kosher, and Halal, (which also means he uses pure vanilla, not vanilla extract). We have sugar free chocolate for diabetics, and Keto Dieters. Our chocolate is soy free, although some of our products have inclusions which use soy. Those are identified on the labels.
We like getting more experimental with flavour pairings, that grown-up thing kicking in. We are re-imagining the chocolate from our youth and playing with it. Salted toffee was, and still is, a big hit. Dark chocolate is my favourite, especially when paired with Himalayan salt and toasted almonds. Ginger and orange were a new pairing, and hot chili was developed using the Farmers Market customers as willing product testers. Then, “Belgian Mocha” was a success and last year’s development project was products for Keto and Paleo dieters with near zero carbs. .