Eclectic confectionary chocolatier joins Lake Orion community
By Georgia Thelen
Review Staff Writer
Nutz about Chocolate, a sustainable chocolate company, has joined the downtown Lake Orion area.
Joe and Tina Morin, long-time area residents, have opened up shop on Broadway Street and are calling out to all chocolate lovers.
Tina has been a life-long lover of baking and sweets, while Joe has been an industry chef for 35 years. The Morin’s children have since grown up and they “wanted to start something that was fun, but gives back a little bit.”
And their inventory is enough to make a chocolate faint: chocolate-dipped potato chips, chocolate-dipped Oreos, turtles, bear claws, brittles and marshmallow creations.
Everything in Nutz about Chocolate is truly sustainable to the planet; from the ingredients to the biodegradable and compostable packaging.
The Morin’s get all of their cocao from CasaLuker, a family-owned sustainable chocolate company, located in Colombia. Every farm that CasaLuker owns in Colombia has been re-purposed from cocaine fields to luscious fields growing cocao trees, fruits and coffee. CasaLuker is constantly rotating crops, so they never out source or over produce their cocao trees.
So while their cocao trees are waiting to grow their beans, the CasaLuker farmers are harvesting other crops they have growing on their farms.
“Our chocolate makes us sustainable… It is 100 percent sustainable, traceable and fair trade,” said Tina Morin. “Which means that we can scan our barcodes and they would actually direct you to the farm, possibly to the actual tree that it was picked from.”
The Morin’s take great pride in their chocolates, as they sat down and did chocolate tasting’s with dozens of chocolate brands.
After five hours of tasting, Joe kept coming back to the same two chocolates, both unknowingly produced by CasaLuker.
The Morin’s did a blind taste test on another day and happened to pick the same two chocolates again. Following their taste tests, the Morin’s did their research on CasaLuker, finding out about their conservation techniques. They not only like the sustainability efforts taken by the company, but also the fact that CasaLuker funds their farmers’ educations.
“It’s just simple chocolate. Clean food, as clean as candies can be,” said Tina.
Most big brand chocolates are mixed with cocao from different regions and countries, so there’s no way to trace it or know how it’s being produced. The Morin’s chocolates made from CasaLuker’s cocao have different tones and bodies, similar to wine, based on what other foods are grown in the surrounding regions.
Nutz about Chocolate is not only offering delectable chocolates, but also caramel apples, fudge, roasted nuts, chocolate-dipped strawberries and snack mixes. Everything produced in-house at Nutz about Chocolate is small batch. The Morin’s fill the cases they have in their store; they do not have over-flow racks like in many larger shops. If they run out of a product, they will make a new batch the following day.
“They take such care in the chocolate to grow it and get it to us, we have to take the same care to get it to you as well. By rushing the process what good would I be doing, anyway?” said Joe.
The Morin’s will be taking small batch special orders, but they are not looking to “explode” recipes just to profit.
The Morin’s are not looking to exploit their chocolates, they say the recipes are the way they are for a reason. They are solely looking to make measurable efforts to fulfill area demands.
Tina said her “Aunt Mabel would rise out of the grave” if they produced their treats any other way.
“We’re very reasonably priced. I can honestly tell you that we are 25 to 30 percent below the market because of how we do it and what we do,” said Joe.
Joe said if they were in it for the money, they could mass-produce and buy large machines instead of the four machines they currently have, referencing his and Tina’s hands.
The Morin’s believe there is something lost in the integrity of the chocolate when companies mass-produce.
For the upcoming winter months, Nutz about Chocolate will have a cocoa station with cocao sticks.