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Posted on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Sweet season: Dexter's Mindo Chocolate Makers celebrates 3rd anniversary amidst Halloween

By Angela Smith

Dexter-based Mindo Chocolate Makers is celebrating its third anniversary as the biggest season for sweets gets under way.

Kids are hoping to get plenty of sweets on Halloween night, but for many adult palettes, there is no treat sweeter than chocolate. And good chocolate, says Barbara Wilson, is not so easy to come by.

Wilson and her husband make their own chocolate at Mindo, their home-based chocolate factory.

mindo bar and beans.jpg

Mindo's locally made artisan chocolate bars are made from pure Nacional cocoa beans, cocoa butter and organic cane sugar, nothing else.

photo courtesy Mindo Chocolate Makers

Wilson and her husband and partner Joe Meza, became interested in making chocolate during a trip to Ecuador, where they visited the Amazon basin and saw where the cacao tree originated.

The process is both complex and simple, using only three ingredients, yet taking days to ferment, dry, roast, and process the cacao beans.

When they tasted the freshly made chocolate, Wilson called the flavor divine, and right away realized that it was something worth sharing. She and Meza got busy forming their chocolate-making business, which they named after the Ecuadorian town where the beans are sourced.

That was three years ago. Mindo is celebrating its third anniversary this November. Wilson says that the business has been growing rapidly. The Mindo products can be found in 29 venues from local farmers markets to California grocery stores, to upscale big city restaurants. She and Meza have recently contracted a full-time manager so that Wilson can focus on growing the company in what she calls "a controlled and efficient way." Though profits have doubled in the past year, the company is still not breaking even, and Wilson is careful to keep demand in line with what her small factory can supply.

The business’ anniversary comes at the company’s busiest time of year, and Mindo has been bustling with activity.

“We are gearing up for the holidays. We have stocking stuffers including 10-gram bars in 10 flavors, we've rolled out our new line of Mindo Rustic bars and they are picking up steam. They come in flavors that the Mayans and Aztecs added to chocolate 3,000 ago: cinnamon, vanilla and hot pepper. We also have popular hot chocolate sticks for making hot chocolate easily by swirling it in hot milk or coffee,” Wilson wrote in an email.

barby and joe.jpg

Barbara Wilson and Joe Meza source their beans from Ecuador, where they also run El Quetzal de Mindo, a small restaurant, hotel, and chocolate making operation.

photo courtesy of Mindo Chocolate Makers

Wilson’s excitement in sharing the traditionally made chocolate products is what she attributes the company’s success to.

“I want to support the whole idea of local and delicious high quality food. That is something we believe strongly in. I love the community of people who believe in that sort of thing.”

Wilson and Meza are supporters of the local movement, the slow food movement, the ethical food movement. “People are really supportive of local business, and are beginning to eat and really value really good food.”

And what better food to savor than chocolate? “It’s a deep love for a lot of people,” Wilson says with a chuckle.

“It is really magical. People love chocolate. It is such a strange food, made in such a strange way. And many people don’t have any idea where it comes from or how it’s made. Helping people to understand for the first time, educating people about food and tasting new things; there is something magical about that."


Mindo's Halloween treats come as ghosts, pumpkins, or skeletons this year.

photo courtesy Mindo Chocolate Makers

Mindo wrapped up a weeklong chocolate making workshop at the end of September in time for the factory to start production of Halloween treats. Ghosts, pumpkins and skeletons made from chocolate are available at Babo, the People's Food Coop, and were featured at Food Gatherer’s Vampire’s Ball benefit.



Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 4:34 a.m.

Love, love, love your chocolate. Except it has ruined me for less wonderful chocolate


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

BEST CHOCOLATE EVER!!! I drive out of my way to get it. The sea salt dark chocolate is my favorite!


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Way too expensive for me!


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Most chocolate is cheap because it's sourced poorly, doesn't contain pure ingredients (low cocoa content is common) and often times utilizes child labor to keep prices low. Chocolate is a special treat and when you buy one of these bars you won't want to gobble them all up - it's nice to savor them. Mindo is a great company and they take great care to produce a pure and responsible product. So you get what you pay for.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

$5 for a choclate bar does seem high.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Wonderful chocolate, not too sweet.... just right. Wish it were available in more places around here.

Anne Kornow

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Great tasting and soul-satisfying chocolate! Barb is a sweetheart and dedicated to making high quality, excellent chocolate.