Kristen Hard is driven by a passion for sustainability and genetic diversity within the cacao industry and the delicate nature of chocolate.
Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. reflects her drive for true artistry encompassing a deep reverence for the combination of heirloom traits and unique flavors. Kristen Hard is a pioneer in her industry as she was the first chocolate maker in the South East and the first female chocolate maker in the Continental United States. She spent her early years developing one of the first collections of holistic healing chocolates in 2004 and now has four stores, over 250 national accounts, and sells in Tokyo. She is considered one of the world's few experts in tasting raw cacao as she was one of the 5 selected judges for Cocoa of Excellence in Paris. Her palate is one equivalent to that of a Master Sommelier of wine, but with chocolate.
She sources directly her cacao while working with farmers in the harvesting and fermentation process in ways that resemble fine winemaking. She has trained farmers in Peru, Venezuela, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Tanzania on farm quality controls and post-harvest practices. She has had a breadth of experiencing lecturing and educating on the various aspects of cacao and chocolate from health and wellness to genetic diversity and all in-between. She has been featured at several events including The Food and Wine Festival and Plywood People and on television including CNN, the Cooking Channel and the Food Network.
Her most recent endeavor has been to penetrate deep into the Amazon in search of rare and almost extinct varieties of cacao in an attempt to support and invigorate a marketplace where most of these have never been seen or tasted by even the niche customer. This effort is partnered with a program for sustainability where the uniqueness of these varieties can be met by fair market value.