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Food 0

Hello Cocoa carving out bean-to-bar chocolate business in Fayetteville


For millennia, humans have been making delicious chocolate creations from the seeds of the cacao tree.

It was first sampled as a bitter drink created by ancient peoples in Mesoamerica. Later, it was a luxury brought back by explorers for European royals to enjoy.

It has been used as medicine, a currency, a token of love, and as a way to sustain warriors at battle.

It’s touted these days by some for its health benefits as an antioxidant, to lower blood pressure, and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other things.

And now, chocolate is made right here in Fayetteville, thanks to a new local company called Hello Cocoa.

Out of Africa

Cocoa Fayetteville

Hello Cocoa sprung out of another company from co-founder Charles Davidson, a non-profit that creates self-sustainable and reproducible businesses in war-torn countries called Forgotten Song.

The organization is currently active in Iraq, Uganda, and Burundi, helping orphans and widows by creating farms and businesses to help meet basic needs of education, vocation and nutrition. In Uganda, for example, the company partnered with the Blessed Hope Orphanage and Academy in Kampala to start a farm of 500 chicks to feed 380 children. Since then, the farm has now grown to over 1,000 chickens while providing a sustainable income for the orphanage and staff.

During visits to Uganda with the organization, Davidson’s encounters with the cacao farmers of the region inspired him to get into the chocolate business.

“We realized there are very few chocolatiers within a few hundreds of miles of Fayetteville,” Davidson said. “We thought, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’”

Davidson and his wife Abby partnered with friends Laruen and Mark Blanco and Preston and Abby Stewart to start the company, and Hello Cocoa was born.

Starting up

Hello Chocolate sold its first bar of chocolate in August, when Mim Wynne of local gourmet foods and home goods store Handmade Market agreed to be the first retailer to carry their products.

Things have progressed rapidly since then, however.

“We started out with about five clients buying roughly 100 bars a month but we have really grown quickly since then,” Davidson said. “We now produce about 500 bars a week.”

They create their two core products – a 57 percent dark chocolate bar made from beans imported from Uganda, and a 74 percent dark chocolate bar from Venezuela – at their kitchen at 4170 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.


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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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