Our Story: Chocolate, A Tool for Connection

Posted: November 15, 2016
Category: aboutus
Comments: 0

Join me on my compassionate journey.

My journey started with the awareness that my actions weren’t linked to my true values.

I discovered that one of my favorite comfort foods, chocolate, was associated with so many injustices, including child slave labor, poverty, land grabs, endangered species, deforestation and green house gas emissions. I spent more money on chocolate that was labeled with various certifications believing the extra amount paid elevated lives. I thought that this money must go back to the farmer and their community. Right? Wrong.

As a thinker and problem solver, I have always challenged the status quo. My passion has always been pioneering non-traditional products within companies that served a myriad of unmet needs (it was never enough to just solve one need). Hence, I was inspired to start a company that was aligned with my values, passions and purpose while also dovetailing with the varied needs throughout all of our local communities and the varied needs of those in cacao growing regions.

Simply, this journey and our goals have been huge and perhaps daunting, but also inspiring and invigorating. Many people tilt their heads when hearing about our big picture plan for the first time. That's okay, because most pioneers know that they are stretching beyond the current point of comfort for the purpose of innovation. We do breathe a little easier knowing that the research facts we have uncovered are aligned with our beliefs that businesses, consumers, academic institutions and positive impact investors will each find value in CocoaCompassion®. Onward ho!

If you share in our dream for more people to be economically independent in a fast-paced global economy, if you value free expression, innovation and entrepreneurship, then join us on this journey. We will bring you inside the story. You can hear about why we are developing new products, introducing thought provoking experiences, debating hot topics and listening to new ideas.  

Ready? Let's go. Perhaps chocolate can be a tool for you, too :-)

- Joy Batashoff Thaler

Founder, CocoaCompassion®



CocoaCompassion® envisions a world where no one is locked into a cycle of poverty; where all have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, complete with passion, purpose, and economic independence.



We focus on inspiring people to achieve better lives. We accomplish this by providing opportunities and training through the use of chocolate and tapping of local resources.



We believe chocolate is a way to get people talking, help them come together and achieve richer lives. Our products will be a conduit to exploring hot topics that are impacting people, local businesses and academic institutions. Interactive experiences will reinforce the topics being addressed, the messages being shared and the lasting impact. By connecting chocolate, a comfort food, with homegrown resources, our approach is deemed fun, effective and hyperlocal. As such, it can drive home a broad-based message with the specific needs of each local community. As a social enterprise, we reinvest profits earned to provide people in underserved communities with the same high-value skills.




3 Disconnects

1) Consumers are unaware of where cacao comes from;

2) 70% of the world's cocoa is grown by 5 million small holder farmers, many of whom are living on less than $2 per day;

3) Most cacao-based product is not manufactured where it's grown (we say "at origin"), but by industrial chocolate processors throughout the U.S.A. & UK, who make most of the profits.


While demand is growing, cacao farmers' incomes are not.

These farmers are locked in a cycle of poverty.

Certifications, such as FairTrade, Rainforest, and UTZ have increased awareness but have not fully solved these problems.

A movement is in motion to bring awareness & drive change.


Chocolate is a global $100 billion, recession-proof industry.

Demand is growing across the expanding middle class in emerging markets.

The Plan

CocoaCompassion is focusing on a non-traditional solution which will reduce these disconnects.


Our leadership team is interdisciplinary. We come out of manufacturing, film, marketing, academia, finance, climate smart farming, applied science, engineering, foraging, coaching, culinary design, intellectual property law,  ecoagriculture, design thinking, sales,rural development, environmental justice, machine learning,consulting,and more.

Joy Batashoff Thaler
  Joy Batashoff Thaler  – Founder, CocoaCompassion™  Joy’s career can be characterized by a proven ability to drive exceptional results.
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Kris Schumacher
  Kris Schumacher – Partner at Traverse Food   Kris is an experienced marketing and finance professional, has held director level
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Valerie Greenberg
  Valerie Greenberg – Principal at The Greenberg Law Firm   Valerie is the principal of The Greenberg Law Firm, which she
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  Laurie Benson – Owner at Boutique Yin Studio and Laurie Benson Coaching   Laurie is a transformational coach. Her clients
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Dr. Neil Scott – Founder, The Makery Hilo In 2003, Dr. Neil Scott joined the University of Hawai`i with support
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  Chris Amendola – Executive chef and owner, foraged.  Chef Chris brings not only experience in the kitchen, but also
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  Rob Bleifer – Food Network Executive Chef & VP of Culinary   Robert became interested in the food world at
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Maura Rapkin – Dual Masters Student in Food Studies, Business Administration   Maura is currently a student at Chatham University, where
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  Kata Young – Project Manager at EcoAgriculture Partners   Katherine (Kata) Young is Project Manager of integrated landscape management portfolio
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Edwin Kuo  – Thought Practitioner Consultant   Edwin is a creative systems thinker who connects ideas and concepts together to design stronger
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Dawn Nickman
  Dawn Nickman – Compassionate Innovation Guru Dawn is an experienced design and art education professional who has held director-level
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  Lizzie Redman –  Executive Director, Bubble Foundation  The Bubble Foundation is a child wellness organization that provides nutrition and fitness
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  Sameena Shah – ‎Managing Director, Head of Data Science – ‎S&P Global Ratings   Sameena is an award –
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  Judith Klinger – Founder, Editor in Chief at W-E Digest.org   Judith believes in eating well, laughing hard, and sharing
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  Jeff Stoike – Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance Resources at U.S. Department of State   Jeff has experience
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  Eric Luftig – Managing Director in the Leveraged Finance Distribution & Trading Group,  BMO Capital Markets   Eric’s responsibilities include primary
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