We are passionate about all-things-chocolate, but we are also passionate about our community and supporting local and national causes for social justice. NeoCocoa has always prioritized working with local ingredient purveyors, creating partnerships and collaborating with local small business owners, as well as supplying our treats to local businesses around the Bay Area. Our commitment to supporting the local food economy has led us to becoming members of the Good Food Guild, a collective of like-minded food businesses that embrace responsible ingredient sourcing. Also, through our partnership with La Cocina, we have received social impact training with The Justice Collective, broadening our perspective on the importance of supporting our community and promoting socially-driven values. Within the last couple of years, we have participated in raising funds for Planting Justice as well as for AAPI Women Lead. Our promise is to continue on this journey of impact, as contributors to our local community and to the world at large.
NeoCocoa founder Christine Doerr’s love affair with chocolate began in the 1980’s. As a teenager, she worked at a Cocolat chocolate shop, part of a chain of stores founded by Alice Medrich who is credited with popularizing chocolate truffles in the SF Bay Area. Christine’s experience at Cocolat eventually inspired her to enroll at the California Culinary Academy and after graduation, go on to work as a pastry chef at various bakeries and restaurants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
After 10 years in the kitchen, Christine left the culinary world for a stint in the corporate world. However, after several years working as a graphic designer, chocolate eventually called her back to the kitchen. After much soulsearching, Christine asked herself what she would do for nothing and the immediate answer was “work with chocolate”.
“I'm an avid chocolate truﬄe taster and have the hips to prove it!” Ever in search of the perfect truﬄe, Christine never found the type of truﬄes she craved on the market. Thankfully, she saw this as a perfect opportunity to start her own business. So in 2008, Christine founded NeoCocoa. With the help of La Cocina, a non-proﬁt incubation program that helps female food entrepreneurs start and grow their business, Christine began making her own line of unique shell-less artisan truffles.
In the years since founding NeoCocoa, Christine has garnered some serious accolades. She was most awarded at the 2011 San Francisco International Chocolate Salon with multiple awards including Best Truﬄe and Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience. In 2011, she was honored with the distinction of being named a top 10 North American Chocolatier by Dessert Professional magazine. In 2016 the Toffee Nib Brittle won a Good Food Award and in 2017 the Black Sesame Seed Brittle won a gold SOFI (Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation) from the Specialty Food Association. In 2020 the Black Sesame Seed Brittle won a Good Food Award.
Christine continues to expand her product offering beyond her initial “Hearts of Chocolate” line of ganache truﬄes, creating a variety of other chocolate confections including barks, toffees, and chocolate covered marshmallows. She also serves on the Chef's Council at CCD Innovations Inc. and she is on the Pastry Program Advisory Committee (PAC) at the International Culinary Center.
Be sure to check out the Lettuce Wrap Podcast to hear real stories of some of your favorite small food business entrepreneurs.
Amanda Garcia is our head chocolatier and has been with us for over 6 years. She has helped develop many of our recipes, including our delectable Double Chocolate Marshmallow Squares, Wildflower Honeycomb and our popular line of toffee brittles.
She began her love for chocolate as a little girl, when her aunt treated her to a day at Nieman Marcus and experienced Joseph Schmidt chocolates for the first time. That love of chocolate turned into a life of pursuing the finest confections. Beginning with making cookies and cakes for her friends’ birthdays and then leading to a term of study at the International Culinary Center, to finally creating artisanal confections at NeoCocoa. She is the power behind NeoCocoa with her, self-proclaimed, "ganaches guns".
You can learn more about Amanda and her Cocoa Paws on the Lettuce Wrap Podcast - "A Crust and Fudge Center."
History of Chocolate
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree, which grow in pods on the trunk and branches of the tree. The pods are harvested, fermented, and dried. The beans are then roasted and shelled, and the nibs (the edible part of the beans) are ground into cocoa mass. Cocoa mass is a thick, sticky paste that is made up of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
Cocoa solids are the component of chocolate that give it its bitter taste, while cocoa butter is the component that gives chocolate its smooth, velvety texture. To make chocolate, cocoa mass is combined with sugar, milk, and other ingredients, depending on the type of chocolate being made. The mixture is then melted and stirred until it is smooth and glossy. The chocolate is then poured into molds and allowed to cool and harden.
There are three main types of chocolate: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Dark chocolate is made with cocoa mass and sugar, while milk chocolate is made with cocoa mass, sugar, and milk powder. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder.
The cacao tree is native to Central and South America, but it is now grown in many other parts of the world. The cacao tree is a perennial tree, which means that it lives for many years and produces fruit year-round. The pods of the cacao tree are about the size of a grapefruit and contain about 30 beans. The beans are fermented for about a week to develop their flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried and shelled. The nibs are then ground into cocoa mass.