Chocolate Factory Celebrates One-Year Anniversary in Chantilly
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Chocolate Factory Celebrates One-Year Anniversary in Chantilly

Owner Krissee D’Aguilar tempers liquid chocolate.

Owner Krissee D’Aguilar tempers liquid chocolate. Photo by Denise Lew/The Connection

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The Hutchins family from Centreville volunteer at the celebration.

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Participants add toppings to make their own chocolate bars.

River-Sea Chocolates, a local chocolate boutique and factory, celebrated its one-year anniversary at its new location on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Chantilly. The company creates partnerships with small farms who practice sustainability in growing fine cacao beans.

The all-day celebration featured factory tours, family-friendly activities, music, and samples of chocolates made from beans originating from Colombia, Fiji, India, Nicaragua, Peru, Tanzania, the U.S. and Venezuela. Guests partook in additional cost experiences such as guided chocolate tastings, chocolate bar decorating, Brazilian cheesy bread, chocolate and beer pairings, and chocolate and wine pairings.

Participants enjoyed chocolate samples and various activities at the celebration. “I love this shop for their wide variety of cocoa beans and chocolates from different countries,” said Robin Bahn, from Fairfax.

Launched in 2017, Krissee D’Aguiar and her husband Mariano, from Herndon, stumbled upon their newfound passion purely by accident, eventually founding a full-time business.

“My kids climbed up a cacao tree in Brazil and asked how chocolate was made. So I tried making chocolate and fell in love with the process,” said D’Aguiar. Since the factory’s opening, their chocolate bars have been sold to 25 local stores in northern Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Indiana, and Ohio.

River-Sea Chocolates partners with small-scale growers that practice sustainability to source fine cacao beans. In April of 2019, the company spearheaded efforts to sail the first wind-powered sail cargo ship in America, one of only four operating sail cargo ships in the world, to import a ton of beans from Colombia after meeting strict import regulations. Shipments by wind power usually cost significantly less than conventional shipping methods as fuel is not needed and half of the crew comprises volunteers, according to D’Aguiar. “To avoid contributing to the enormous problem of shipping pollution and whale deaths, it is a pollution-free way of transporting products for import and export. We are planning on bringing more beans on the next shipment and growing the sustainable shipping movement,” said D’Aguiar. They aim to have their next shipment in spring of 2020.

As for future plans, the owners look forward to expanding their reach in the area. “I see ourselves continuing to grow within the community in the D.C. area,” said D’Aguilar.