Arlington, MA-based food photographer Michael Piazza has been working with Taza Chocolate for over three years now. They were one of the first clients he landed after moving from New York to Boston. Michael’s enjoyed his work with the brand, which is an environmentally sustainable chocolate company located in Somerville, MA. Founded in 2006, Taza prides itself on being a fair trade business with a close relationship with a Dominican Republic organic cocoa cooperative.
Over the past three years, Michael has watched and photographed as Taza crafted an interesting new wave of chocolate—ground Mexican style. The company started with just two vintage Mexican stone grinders, a vintage Italian roaster, and other classic machinery. Michael has seen Taza grow from this small start-up into a high-volume chocolate leader with a new chocolate factory and an expanded product line. However, they still use traditional methods and machinery to create their products.
Michael hit it off with Taza’s two young owners Alex Whitmore and Kathleen Fulton from the start. Their goal was from the start was to create traditional Meso-American flavored chocolate with high-quality ingredients. Michael described Taza’s unique flavors,
Their process leaves some of the cacao and sugar with a little bit of grittiness to it, in contrast to most European style chocolate which is meant to be smooth and creamy on your tongue. The result is a chocolate that tastes more like the actual cacao—sharper, winier, and with a deeper, more complex flavor.
Last winter, while shooting Taza’s new factory in frigid Massachusetts, Michael joked with Alex about going to the Dominican Republic to shoot the origins of the cocoa—and to warm up of course. Alex and Larry mulled it over and decided it was actually a great idea, especially since their cacao origins are such an integral part of their brand. So soon Michael found himself in sunny D.R., shooting the harvesting and fermentation of Taza’s cacao. He was excited for the shoot as he believed that, ” the growers and producers of the cacao beans were about all that we were missing to tell the complete story—from “bean-to-bar” as they say.”
Michael’s images are used to highlight where the organic chocolate comes from and how it’s made. To Taza, authenticity is extremely important and Michael’s photos are a great way to showcase this. Taza lovers can even look up their batch number and learn the exact method used to make their chocolate, as well as check out Michael’s photos of the farmers. Now Michael’s just looking forward to a long fruitful relationship with Taza, and of course, lots of chocolate.