In a season of sweets, Pa. company encourages conscious consumption | Tuesday Morning Coffee

The Moka Origins chocolate factory in Bethany, Pa. wants customers to think about the ‘farming and the labor and the intensity’ that goes into your chocolate bar

November 30, 2021 7:08 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The holiday season is in full-swing, which means that some among us will take advantage of the spirit of the season to scarf down larger-than-normal quantities of candy. Much of it will be chocolate.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (a reminder for myself as much as you, dear reader).

But as you enjoy your favorite treat, one Pennsylvania candy-maker also wants you to remember that your candy bar started life as a crop, which comes with all sorts of economic and environmental impacts.

“When people start to realize that chocolate—candy—is actually a fruit, [you] start to think about the farming and the labor and the intensity that goes into it,” Jeff Abella, the co-founder and CEO of Moka Origins, a chocolatier and coffee company in Bethany, Wayne County, told the local River Reporter newspaper recently.

Moka Origins is one around 150 craft chocolate companies nationwide, the newspaper.

And just like your local microbrewer or microdistillery, the ingredients make all the difference in the world. Chocolate, as you probably know, starts with beans, which means someone has to grow them and pick them. And how that happens and how those workers are treated is a very big deal for many of those craft chocolate firms.

“We should start to realize that the true value of cocoa needs to take into consideration how much it costs farmers to grow and the income they need to earn to not live in poverty,” Abella told the newspaper.

While the company is based in northeastern Pennsylvania, its namesake farm is on the other side of the globe in Cameroon, Africa, according to the River Reporter.

Abella and a colleague founded the farm in 2015 while working in the region on humanitarian projects. The Pennsylvania branch opened in 2016, the newspaper reported.

(Image via

The goal, according to the River Reporter, is to disrupt a production system dominated by massive companies that’s rife with environmental and human rights violations. The company asks its customers to pay a bit more for its products, but that’s intended to make sure workers and farmers are treated justly — a sentiment that tends to resonate during the festive season.

“We’re not here to give aid to farmers,” Abella told the newspaper. “What we’re here to do is establish partnerships where we’re just paying fairly for their beans and ultimately sustainably growing their economic outcome, and the more people we can get aware of that the better.”

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Philadelphia City Hall (Flickr Commons)

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11:30 a.m., Capitol Media Center: The state Department of Human Services holds a news conference to talk about programs that can help people during the winter months.

Gov. Tom Wolf does an 8:07 a.m. interview on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh this morning. At 4 p.m, he heads to Annapolis, Md., for a National Governors Association panel on implementing the new federal infrastructure funding.

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Best wishes go out this morning to April Hutcheson, spokesperson for state Auditor General Tim DeFoor, who celebrates today. Congratulations, and enjoy the day.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.