Gataka Wellness infusing craft chocolate with CBD

Thornton-based chocolate-maker won BLDRfly’s CBD chocolate taste test in the flavored chocolate category

By Tatyana Sharpton Aug 5 2020

Last Wednesday, BLDRfly held a Boulder CBD Chocolate blind taste test. Set in the outdoor patio of Jungle’s front lawn, Flatirons sporting in the background and the sun streaming hot through stretched awning and green leaves, our five judges compared five brands of CBD chocolate, three local, two not.

Joel Dar and Sima Amsalem

While the non-CBD, control brand Chocolove, won in both dark chocolate and flavored chocolate categories, among the three local CBD chocolate brands, Gataka took the top spot in both categories as well, but scored much higher in the flavored category with 22 points.

One of these local chocolate brands, Thornton-based Gataka, which uses Ecuadorian cocoa, made an appearance to watch the tasting unfold. Joel Dar, founder and owner of Gataka arrived with Sima Amsalem, the chocolate’s factory manager.

The hemp-derived, full-spectrum CBD chocolate which Gataka successfully sells in forms of bars, chocolate cups, discs and butter cups, got its start in 2018, when Joel began adding CBD to the chocolate he started making two years prior.

BLDRfly founder and editor Paul Hagey divy-ing out some CBD chocolate to our blind taste test judges at Jungle last week. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Native roots

Originally from Tel Aviv, Joel fell in love with chocolate in its raw form when he and his wife lived in Costa Rica, where some communities view it as a superfood rich with antioxidants, magnesium and more.

However, they didn’t necessarily love the raw chocolate’s flavor, which can taste less than delicious and usually mixed into shakes; they decided to learn the traditional chocolate-making process and moved across the country to the Caribbean’s Puerto Viejo, where Joel began his journey as a craft chocolatier before coming to Boulder ten years ago.

Inspired by the tradition of the bean-to-bar process, and no doubt the healing, Pura Vida energy of Costa Rica which inherently travels over with Gataka’s clean, wellness-oriented vibe, Joel launched DAR Chocolate, his first, non-CBD craft chocolate brand which makes everything from scratch.

Gataka’s chocolate-making process involves grinding the raw cocoa with sugar and coco butter for three days, then tempering the liquid chocolate in a process that plays with its temperature and fat crystals until it cools into a hard, snappy, shiny chocolate.

Hearing of the positive affects of CBD as the industry began to boom, Joel decided to add the hemp-based ingredient into the craft chocolate he made. He kept DAR as its own separate brand and created a second, entirely CBD-focused one: Gataka.

Some of Gataka’s individual chocolates.

Gataka makes all of its chocolate in small batches, with only two to three ingredients; it makes 500 pounds of CBD chocolate each month.

Sima, who moved to Boulder from Israel around the same time as Joel launched Gataka, brings two decades of chocolate experience to the operation. She owned her own chocolate factory in Jerusalem for 10 years and clearly found a fit when she met Joel through an ad he placed for Gataka online.

Since Joel launched the Gataka brand of his chocolate business, he quickly found that CBD sells more than regular chocolate and has seen his customer base rise.

“CBD is adaptogenic,” says Joel, “so it goes where the body needs it.” Many CBD users attest to its benefits from mood stabilization to joint relief, but science has yet to determine its definitive effects.

Gataka’s single-serving discs sell the most, with 10 milligrams of CBD in 10 grams of chocolate for the price of $2.99.

Header image: Joel Dar and Sima Amsalem of Gataka CBD Chocolate. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.