Our Story: Chocolate, A Tool for Connection

Our Story: Chocolate, A Tool for Connection

Join me on my compassionate journey.

My journey started with the awareness that my actions weren’t linked to my true values.

I discovered that one of my favorite comfort foods, chocolate, was associated with so many injustices, including child slave labor, poverty, land grabs, endangered species, deforestation and green house gas emissions. I spent more money on chocolate that was labeled with various certifications believing the extra amount paid elevated lives. I thought that this money must go back to the farmer and their community. Right? Wrong.

As a thinker and problem solver, I have always challenged the status quo. My passion has always been pioneering non-traditional products within companies that served a myriad of unmet needs (it was never enough to just solve one need). Hence, I was inspired to start a company that was aligned with my values, passions and purpose while also dovetailing with the varied needs throughout all of our local communities and the varied needs of those in cacao growing regions.

Simply, this journey and our goals have been huge and perhaps daunting, but also inspiring and invigorating. Many people tilt their heads when hearing about our big picture plan for the first time. That’s okay, because most pioneers know that they are stretching beyond the current point of comfort for the purpose of innovation. We do breathe a little easier knowing that the research facts we have uncovered are aligned with our beliefs that businesses, consumers, academic institutions and positive impact investors will each find value in CocoaCompassion®. Onward ho!

If you share in our dream for more people to be economically independent in a fast-paced global economy, if you value free expression, innovation and entrepreneurship, then join us on this journey. We will bring you inside the story. You can hear about why we are developing new products, introducing thought provoking experiences, debating hot topics and listening to new ideas.  

Ready? Let’s go. Perhaps chocolate can be a tool for you, too 🙂

– Joy Batashoff Thaler

Founder, CocoaCompassion®



CocoaCompassion® envisions a world where no one is locked into a cycle of poverty; where all have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, complete with passion, purpose, and economic independence.



We focus on inspiring people to achieve better lives. We accomplish this by providing opportunities and training through the use of chocolate and tapping of local resources.



We believe chocolate is a way to get people talking, help them come together and achieve richer lives. Our products will be a conduit to exploring hot topics that are impacting people, local businesses and academic institutions. Interactive experiences will reinforce the topics being addressed, the messages being shared and the lasting impact. By connecting chocolate, a comfort food, with homegrown resources, our approach is deemed fun, effective and hyperlocal. As such, it can drive home a broad-based message with the specific needs of each local community. As a social enterprise, we reinvest profits earned to provide people in underserved communities with the same high-value skills.




3 Disconnects

1) Consumers are unaware of where cacao comes from;

2) 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown by 5 million small holder farmers, many of whom are living on less than $2 per day;

3) Most cacao-based product is not manufactured where it’s grown (we say “at origin”), but by industrial chocolate processors throughout the U.S.A. & UK, who make most of the profits.


While demand is growing, cacao farmers’ incomes are not.

These farmers are locked in a cycle of poverty.

Certifications, such as FairTrade, Rainforest, and UTZ have increased awareness but have not fully solved these problems.

A movement is in motion to bring awareness & drive change.


Chocolate is a global $100 billion, recession-proof industry.

Demand is growing across the expanding middle class in emerging markets.

The Plan

CocoaCompassion is focusing on a non-traditional solution which will reduce these disconnects.


Our leadership team is interdisciplinary. We come out of manufacturing, film, marketing, academia, finance, climate smart farming, applied science, engineering, foraging, coaching, culinary design, intellectual property law,  ecoagriculture, design thinking, sales,rural development, environmental justice, machine learning,consulting,and more.

Hilo, Hawaii: In-Region, Tech Hub

Hilo, Hawaii: In-Region, Tech Hub

Development HUB for edutainment programs serving cacao-growing regions

(Fact: Hawaii, is the only cacao growing region in the U.S.)

CocoaCompassion® is constantly seeking partners to create new markets where chocolate and local resources are tools that bring people together and power thought provoking engagement within and across communities.

It was through the exploration of partners that CocoaCompassion founder, Joy Thaler, was introduced to Dr. Neil Scott, a former research engineer at Stanford University and founder of The Makery in Hilo, Hawaii which is a unique space that provides training and resources that will empower companies and individuals to perform 21st Century manufacturing in Hawaii.

Dr. Scott believes that the future growth of local communities requires a pool of skilled artisans and new opportunities for them to develop high-value skills. He also believes that a new active learning environment will lead to economic independence, increased entrepreneurship and a decrease in at-risk-youth, teens and young adults.
Dr. Scott had already been considering the potential for using Hawaii’s emerging chocolate industry as a catalyst for helping students understand the relevance and economic importance of STEAM subjects within their local community. We quickly realized that our shared values and goals were complementary; together we would create unique interactive experiences that empower local communities with knowledge and skills for greater success and prosperity within our rapidly changing global economy.
The place where it all happens. One block from the tourist shops and Hilo Bay.


Passerbys stare through the front window where a computer numeric cutting machine & laser is at work.


Albizia trees have caused problems statewide. These invasive albizia trees are perceived to be structurally weak. Great work is being conducted to overcome these misconceptions which could help ease Hawaii’s housing crisis. The Makery is actively educating communities about upcycling this invasive species and using high value tools to create and market valuable wooden merchandise.

Powering other Socially Conscious Businesses

Powering other Socially Conscious Businesses

CocoaCompassion®️ Collaborations: Powering Responsible Businesses

Spotlight: Chris Amendola
Owner, Executive Chef
Foraged Eatery

3520 Chestnut Street, Baltimore MD




“To me, being a chef is not about fame and wealth, It’s about being an inspiration, mentor and a voice. I want to open peoples’ eyes to their surroundings and also I want people to be conscious of what they are cooking for their families or what they eat when they go out. We should start by consuming seasonal ingredients and in doing this, this supports your local farmers which is important to your community. Helping take part in making our local community better is a priority. If we all try, our world will be better for future generation”

– Chef Chris Amendola

The proof is In the pudding ..well..really the finishing salt & chocolate


70% cacao bean-to-bar chocolate featuring chef-crafted, local salt from the Chesapeake Bay.

The cacao beans are from Tanzania, they were ethically sourced and of the highest quality. (SIDE BAR: Hawaii is the only cacao growing region in the U.S.A.  Cacao only grows 20 degrees north and south of the equator.)

CocoaCompassion® Collaborations give back 20% profit: 10% to a social, economic or environmental initiative selected by our partner. 10% to a cacao growing community initiative.

get a foraged. bar


Increase awareness, curiosity and engagement regarding Chef Chris’ hyperlocal philosophy.

Serve up stories regarding the innovative products Chef Chris’ is developing.

Deliver on the wants and needs of a culturally diverse, fun neighborhood that is close to downtown Baltimore attracting singles and young families.


Chef Chris wants to share stories through food that are meaningful and promote conversation.

This story focuses on how oyster farms are much more than food, they demonstrate the power of aquaculture.

Such a story, opens up the opportunity for conversation and debate, as many people believe farm-raised fish is bad and wild is the best. When it comes to shellfish, it’s a different story. It’s a story for more to hear and discuss.

Scientists are exploring how shellfish farming can benefit local ecosystems and local economies. As Chef Chris states, the Chesapeake Bay is a great example.

Chef Chris wanted to profile the unique flavor found in a local oyster called Happy Oysters. He did this by working with the Farmer of Sapidus Farms, Mike Manyak.  Mike shared water from his farm and Chris experimented until he was able to craft his own salt;  this is the finishing salt featured at Foraged.

Chef Chris’ commitment to hyperlocal dishes and story telling led to the creation of this private label chocolate bar which upholds all the values, including great taste, local community involvement and empowerment.

Gift deliciously healthy chocolate products

20% profit from the CocoaCompassion® products you purchase will be reinvested to provide underserved communities with the high-value skills and resources needed to turn local ingredients and materials into finished products that pave a path towards economic independence.

  • CUSTOM WOODEN GIFT BOX (upcycled using local materials, logo laser engraved )

Contact us for pricing and more information   Contact Us

Book a Private Event

Do you have a group of 10 or more? Whether you are a business interested in offering your customers or employees a fun hands-on activity or a charity looking for a unique fundraising event, we would love to hear from you! Contact us below if you are interested in learning more about our private events.

Seed Your Ideas

Seed Your Ideas

  • What issues would you like to debate?
  • Do you have ideas of how to get your community gathered around a table of chocolate, nibs or any of our products?
  • Could you envision locations where people would want to purchase our products?
  • Do your interests dovetail with our initiatives?

    We want to hear from you. We want to address the topics that matter most you. We want to work together.

      Contact Us