Interview with Lizzy Harvey
Dandelion chocolate maker
I have always loved chocolate. It’s a little bit like wine, especially the kind of chocolate we make at Dandelion. The only thing we change is the origin of the cocoa bean, (not considering the roasting times) the region has a huge impact in the flavor of the chocolate.
Dandelion was the first place to offer me a job. It was a good fit.
We are chocolate makers not chocolatiers. Chocolatiers are people who use chocolate to make truffles, candies, they use chocolate as their main ingredient in crafting a sweet. Chocolate makers make chocolate from the bean. Dandelion is focused on the whole bean-to-barn thing…hahah.
Ha, so SF!
I think its really cool that they source all of the cocoa beans themselves. They go to every single country and farm that produce our coco beans. They work with farms who ethically produce their beans and fairly pay their workers. I like being part of the whole process: we start with fermented and dried beans and finish with chocolate bars!
Dandelion sells their chocolate on site. The kitchen which produces all the baked goods and hot drinks is housed in the same space where we make the chocolate. People love watching us work. The attempts at transparency is something I really gravitated towards.
I don’t remember you being specifically into chocolate growing up.
I think chocolate is so ubiquitous
Do you feel like you’re developing your craft? This is the most manual labor you’ve done for a living, have you developed an appreciation for a different kind of labor?
Dandelion has three core values: exquisite, intimate, and craftsmanship. I guess craft is a key a part of their mission. We are having a bit of an issue about this right now. There is a debate about what music should be played in the store. It’s important because the production team has to listen to it all day. Ideally we want music that is motivating us to work.
Hi Ho Hi Ho, its off the work we go…
We’ve been playing modern music, pop, people like Kendrick Lamar and SZA. But, one of the leader managers didn’t want to play mainstream music in-store. They wanted the music to “match” the mission. They wanted to stop playing music from top 20 hits in last 20 years. They wanted “craftsman singer song writer type”…
What Kendrick Lamar not craftsman-like?
That was the issue, most of us were like “what???” I think everyone sees craftsmanship differently at Dandelion but the basic idea is “hands on” We don’t put everything through a machine. We still hand foil all of our bars, most of the steps involve a human looking or doing the thing. It’s not mass produced.
Because of that Dandelion isn’t cheap. It’s on Valencia in the mission. Does this really limit Dandelion’s audience?
I think that is a huge problem and I would love to change that while I work here. If i didn’t have the 30% off discount, I couldn’t afford our chocolate. I wouldn’t be able to buy our bars.
It’s helpful to be a part of the production side of things. Dandelion is able to support their staff because of these high charges, especially in a crazy expensive city like San Francisco. I have all of these benefits, I get paid minimum wage, I have sick leave, vacation days.
The people who are going to buy all of this are the people who can afford it. The techies who are basically supporting this “transparency” thing. I really wish their was another option for people who cant afford the bars. I wish there was more of an effort to make something that is more accessible to the surrounding community.
Before Dandelion you were doing a lot of writing, have you seen any of your habits or practices translate to chocolate making?
I am grateful that I practice meditation and mindfulness. It turns out that a lot of my job is doing repetitive tasks. I spend a lot of the day doing the same thing over and over: foiling a chocolate bar over and over again, pouring chocolate into the mold over and over, I sometimes just zone out. Mindfulness helps me find something new in each action or moment, so things don’t get boring as quickly. I try to find something to improve on every time. I think this approach is helpful when writing or anything involving craft. It is easy for me to get stuck and get comfortable with what I am used to doing but I try to come to it with a freshness each day.