Not very many people find their life’s work and calling while enjoying their honeymoon. However, that’s exactly what happened to Art Pollard, the artisan chocolatier behind Amano Artisan Chocolate. While perusing the country in 1996, it suddenly occurred to Art that the chocolate that was readily available on the American market just didn’t pass muster. Even the imported chocolates that Pollard tasted didn’t seem to have quite what it took to shine. When he didn’t find what he wanted, Art decided to try and make it himself. There were several years, however, from conception to the company’s founding.
Instead of buying bags of beans and throwing in a piece of equipment, Art started his venture with a lot of study. In fact, Pollard admits that his chocolate “education” was much more rigorous than any of his college courses. Art studied numerous books that talked about the chocolate making process, including old texts that showed techniques used in times-gone-by. As a scientist, he soon had a fairly clear idea of what the process would take. With that in mind, he made his own equipment and jumped into chocolate making as a very serious hobby. The machinery in his garage changed over time but, eventually, it all melded together and Art starting producing chocolates that he was proud of.
Once the chocolate that was coming out of Art’s makeshift factory was edible and enjoyable, he started to share it with chefs from his local area, who gave him positive feedback. Art was already involved in other business ventures with a partner, Clark Goble. Goble really felt that they should bank on the garage factory and make it into a real and viable business. Art, however, wasn’t convinced that he was all the way there and ready to risk the product on the open market. Still, the local population was already firmly fascinated by what Art was doing and they decided to move forward.
Instead of moving right to the factory floor, Art took another detour. As a final educational step, Pollard spent time in Europe, formally studying chocolate making with the masters. Having already experienced the process in his garage factory, this was mostly a refining and detailing study for Art Pollard. In addition to his educational European tour, the up-and-coming chocolate artist also visited Mexico, working directly with growers and plantations to understand the bean from the ground up- literally.
A full ten years after Art Pollard ruminated on chocolate making during his honeymoon; Amano Artisan Chocolate was founded in 2006. By this time, Art felt that he had consistently produced chocolate that was as good as, or surpassed, the quality of the fine European manufacturers of the confection. In order to find conditions that were the most conducive to a quality and consistent product, Pollard picked up and moved to an unexpected location- Orem, Utah. The high altitude and desert climate offered conditions that allowed consistency and control during the manufacturing process. The Amano factory, at an altitude of approximately 4,441 feet, is one of the highest located factories in the world. This high-altitude location even beats many Swiss chocolate factories, making a truly worldwide competitive brand.
Amano Artisan Chocolate has won dozens of awards since the company became publicly visible in 2006. Six awards were garnered in 2007, from organizations such as the San Francisco Chocolate Salon and the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon. 2008 saw ten awards displayed by the company, some from the same institutions and others from places like the New York Food Festival and London Academy of Chocolate. In 2009 Amano Artisan Chocolate added an additional 13 awards to its name.
Art Pollard and Amano Artisan Chocolate remain a small company, committed to artisan quality chocolate. Art often pays his cacao growers significantly more than the market rate, though he usually works outside the “fair trade” designation, feeling that a one-on-one relationship is more important than often prohibitive bureaucracy. Art is joined by only about a dozen American manufacturers who actually make their chocolate directly from a raw bean. As a small, independent chocolatier, he has few American competitors that can join him on that bench.
Currently there are eight dark chocolate bars in production:
and two milk chocolate bars:
The Amano Roaster
Amano Chocolate at the 2010 Summer Fancy Food Show
Amano on Unwrapped
Amano Chocolate Making