Shawn Askinosie was a criminal defence lawyer for 20 years before he decided it was time for a change. He started baking as a hobby in 1999, quickly becoming obsessed with cupcakes. But it wasn’t until 2005 when he hit on the idea of making chocolate from the bean, that things really started to take off.
As Askinosie says, he was driving home from someone else’s funeral when it dawned on him, “dropped into my head out of the clear blue Missouri sky”, that he needed to become a Chocolate Maker. This “flash” of inspiration, became the beaming sun of their logo.
Shawn quickly recruited his wife Caron, daughter Lawren and son-in-law Kyle to help with the chocolate making, and with their support, Askinosie Chocolate quickly took off.
Based in a 100 year old building – a former railroad supply store – in Springfield, Missouri, Askinosie were pioneers of the artisan bean to bar movement in America.
Chocolate making at Askinosie is anything but simple – but could you expect anything less from bars that ooze quality and extraordinary flavour profiles? It’s a 70 point plan to make an Askinosie bar, which starts with finding the right farmers with the right beans all the way through to scraping excess chocolate off the moulds so there is no wastage (don’t worry – they factor in a whole step dedicated to eating the chocolate too!)
Askinosie believe in good Farmernomics – which means famers get paid way above the per-tonne Fair Trade market price for their beans and profits from the company are shared with the farmers – paying them directly so there is no middleman. With all of the control, Askinosie can ensure all of the money reaches the right people. The circle of chocolate: high quality beans = high quality chocolate = more profit, means you know you are getting the best chocolate and the farmers are reaping the rewards, every time. It’s not the easiest way to run a business, not the cheapest and certainly not without risk but Askinosie practice Direct Trade because it’s the best way – for everybody!
That sense of justice and ethics is central to everything Askinosie do. From simple touches like showing pictures of the cocoa farmers on the front of their single origin bars, to a dedicated Chocolate University where local children are taught about business, sustainability and direct trade and entrepreneurship. Some lucky students even get to visit the plantations in Tanzania to learn how chocolate is made right at the source.
But above all else, what we like best about Askinosie is the way it tastes.