Conversations with an Artist: Cru Chocolate

Cru Chocolate Karla McNeil-Rueda and Eddie Houston
We were introduced to Karla and Eddie of Cru Chocolate through our friends at Cute Coffee. Their likeminded philosophy, sophisticated approach to cacao and beautiful sense of being grounded in tradition made them a perfect fit with our Ethical Pantry curation. We love discovering a great chocolate story because it feeds our taste buds as much as it does our good moods. We're excited for you to experience this gorgeously textured, small batch cacao chocolate.

8 Questions

Describe the moment you realized art/making fed your soul.
While making one of my first batches, I was so succumbed into the process I suddenly thought that one day my then 7 year old daughter would grow up, that she would probably fall in love, and she would probably have broken dreams and know heartbreak. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I started to cry incessantly as I kept cleaning the cacao, realizing that the seeds I was holding also knew the pain of a broken dream and that they themselves would never become a tree.

(Karla explains further: this is a hard question as cacao feeds my soul, but is always in the way of grief and heartache– it is not as happy as one would imagine.)

Cru Chocolate Cacao Beans Single Sourced Farms
Karla hand-sorting beans to ensure the most beautiful quality

What themes do you pursue in your craft?
We pursue nourishment and pleasure that can transform into freedom that creates beauty. When you have our chocolate we hope that you feel well loved and well taken cared of... so you can feel free to do beautiful things.

Cru Chocolate Cacao Chocolate Bar and Drinks of Ancient Rituals and Traditions

Tell us about what influences the direction for your products.
Our influences come straight from the farm, but also from the beauty of California and the people who love our chocolate. Our joy is in nourishing others–and feeding them, their lives, and their journeys influences our craft tremendously.

Karla McNeil-Rueda and Eddie Houston of Cru Chocolate Cacao Chocolate Bean to Bar
Eddie and Karla making cacao chocolate bars

How has your craft developed over time?
Chocolate has developed as a way to talk and share about the richness and beauty of the ancient and still living cacao and chocolate culture where we come from; and the need to strive for fairness and justice at the farm level.

Chocolate has become an art form that both requests and can offer solutions to climate and social issues and people's love and relationship to this food can bring significant changes to the world.

Cru Chocolate Small Batch Cacao Chocolate Bars and Drinks

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
A flame; from roasting to making a good cup of chocolate, fire is our most faithful and indispensable companion. There can not be chocolate without fire, as chocolate itself represents the fire of life, a fire created by love.

Do you collect anything?
I love ceramic pots made with different soils and techniques but I try to use them as much as possible so it is a living collection.

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
Lately, we have been bringing cacao shells to urban farms across Sacramento and Oakland. They use it to make compost or as mulch and it is so inspiring to see urban neighborhoods being transformed by community gardens showing us once again that nature is always stronger than concrete, and strengthens the desire to everyday see more people with access to healthy food and land to farm. 

What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic/maker journey?
To never forget that Art is who we are as humans, not something we do separated from who we are. How we walk, how we dress, how we talk–everything is an art form that must be cultivated and honored constantly. I hope to be giving myself that advice my whole life.

Cru Chocolate Bean to Bar Cacao Chocolate 

We gotta say, this cacao is pure bliss in a bite. We are so admiring of the beautiful mouth feel, smooth texture (creamy too, like milk but it's non-dairy!) and rich flavor of this Cru Chocolate.

They achieve it through selecting farms that achieve quality farming, harvesting and fermenting to produce the amazing cacao bean foundation. Cru Chocolate then hand-sorts, roasts, stone grinds, ages, and finally tempers the cacao into bars and drinking chocolate wheels– and which have now become a magic mystery ride for your taste buds! 

A nice little addition to your own pampering or to include in a gift to another. Buy Cru Chocolate here from our Ethical Pantry here

~ Bonnie & Jeffrey

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