You can count Arthur “Art” G. Pollard (BA ’96) and David C. Goble (BS ’96) among the multitudes who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of chocolate. But count the software-developers-turned-entrepreneurs out of those who believe all chocolate is created equal. That conviction has sent Pollard around the globe in search of the world’s finest cocoa beans to process in their Orem chocolate factory.
The team originally worked together in the software world creating search engine technologies, but chocolate had long been one of Pollard’s interests.
Pollard recalls making an offhand comment while at BYU that it would be cool to make his own chocolate. While designing equipment for the physics department, he began work on his own chocolate refiner and started experimenting with high-quality cocoa beans.
Years later, Goble tasted Pollard’s chocolate and convinced him it would be a good business venture.
“I didn’t want to do it at first,” Pollard says. “There are all sorts of problems: supply issues, dealing across cultural and national boundaries, plus the issue of imports and exports. That’s all before you even get to the cocoa beans.”
But once the decision was made, Pollard was enthusiastic. He flew to Europe to study chocolate manufacturing, visit factories, and purchase equipment for refurbishing to add to their equipment.
They called their new company Amano Artisan Chocolate. In Italian amano means both “by hand” and “they love.” “The name describes the care and perfection we bring to chocolate and the people who savor it,” Pollard explains.
To achieve that perfection, Pollard traveled to exotic locations like the northwest coast of Madagascar and the Ocumare Valley in Venezuela for high-quality cocoa beans grown, fermented, and dried to exacting standards. “Some of these areas are remote,” says Pollard, “and the only way we can get to one cocoa bean plantation is by horseback.”
Created with top-quality beans and old-world technologies, Amano chocolates are 70 percent cocoa and retain “notes” of citrus and red fruit in their flavors, depending on the bean’s source.
Although they have been sold only since 2006, Amano products are used by top chefs and Amano bars have repeatedly won awards at artisan chocolate tastings. The company received a gold medal from the London Academy of Chocolate in February, “hugely impressing the judges,” according to the results; it’s the highest award the academy has given an American company for bean-to-bar dark chocolate.
“I find this flattering,” Pollard says of the recognition for his company, “but quality is like a never-ending continuum....Our goal is to continue along that continuum, honing in on our processes and continuing to make it better and better.”
More at amanochocolate.com.