LANCASTER, N.Y.- In the heart of the village, you will find a truly unique way to find something so many of us love: chocolate.

Dark Forest is Western New York's first bean to bar chocolate maker.

Owners Dan and Joanne Sundell decided to change careers and open their own business one year ago.

"Dan began to do some test batches at home, and it was amazing chocolate," said Joanne.

After those test batches and a little research, Dark Forest Chocolate Makers was born.

The flavors are unlike anything you'll find around Western New York.

"Mass market chocolate doesn't really taste that way. It's truly candy. Where I consider the small batch chocolate to be food," said Joanne.

It all starts with five different kinds of cacao beans that come from countries near the equator, similar to coffee.

The beans are sorted, roasted, and then have their shells knocked off. As a bonus, the biodegradable shells make for great mulch in the garden.

Then it's off to the grinder for up to 2 days before forming what's left into giant bars.

Milk chocolate can then be molded into the final product, whereas the dark chocolates age for several months.
Dan and Joanne say one of their biggest challenges so far is teaching customers about the concept of bean-to-bar.

"We have to give them a little education, and to do that we put our equipment out where it's visible and you can see what's going on behind the scenes," said Dan.

"When someone comes in looking for a chocolate-covered something, I have to kind of quickly educate them and, well we don't have that but we do have this. Let me show you, let me give you a taste. "

Even the packaging and wrapping is all done in-house, including wrappers designed by Dan and one of their sons, Jack.

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