Add Northern Michigan’s Own Sweet Treat To Your List: Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate

“We’re a chocolate shop for chocolate lovers.”

Nestled in Lake Michigan’s dune land of Empire– is a small, family owned business with a passion for chocolate.

“It’s amazing how many people come into our shop and they don’t even know where chocolate is grown or how it’s grown, yet they’ve eaten it their whole life.”

Jody Hayden is the owner of grocer’s daughter. And she’s doing chocolate a little different.

“Our cocoa comes from Ecuador. Comes from four small farming co-ops.”

Grocer’s Daughter has purchased over twenty six thousand pounds of organic direct trade chocolate— over three thousand miles away– in Ecuador.

“Every May we produce a big conference in Quito, Ecuador that I travel down for. We take trips and customers with us to Ecuador, usually every year. We go to visit the farmers so customers can talk to the farmers that grew the cacao and ask them any question they want.”

And like any skilled craftsman, they spend ample amounts of time honoring their skill as chocolatiers. Forever being students of the craft, constantly learning –and making a deeper connection, from the farmer to the customer.

“Each cacao fruit has a unique flavor profile. A bunch of different flavors, just like there is in wine, based on where the cacao is grown in the world, and how much rain fell that year. And so we get excited about that, we nerd out about it.”

Nerding out is an understatement. When you’re passionate about something, you put your all into it. Buying cacao from Latin America is just the tip of the iceberg–

“We have dozens of local Michigan ingredients, anytime we can source something locally, we will.”

Priding themselves on local, all natural ingredients.

“We use local dairy whenever we can so from Mio Michigan, the Farmers Creamery. We buy all of our dairy from them, it’s a mennonite family farm. All of our sweeteners that we can source locally we do. So our honey comes from sleeping bear farms, we get maple syrup from right up the road.”

And it doesn’t stop there.

“Lavender, mint, cardamom, basil, rosemary.”

Fresh herbs right from the garden in their backyard. All of this is for the community, by the community.

“People are just starting to understand that chocolate it isn’t just what we ate as children. It’s not just a snickers bar, it’s not just a Twix bar.”

And the most important part —

“Families are coming here and having these experiences that they’ll remember for years- they’re going to the dunes, going to the lake, and then they stop in our shop and we get to be part of that memory.”

This little lime green building has big plans for the future.

“The next big step for grocers daughter chocolate is opening the building that we’re renovating next store which is going to be a house-made gelato shop. And then we’re expanding our treat bakery. So imagine like a really good chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of gelato- we’re gonna have wonderful things like that.”

They say life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. But to Jody and her chocolatier family…

“Knowing that we have the ability to make an impact that’s positive, both in our value chain but in our community, by giving back to the community…it’s invaluable to me. I love that part of what I do.”


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