Cannabis is central to Défoncé. Given our commitment to artisanship in the kitchen, we trumpet Hummingbird Medicinals, where the biodynamic farming calendar determines when the plants go into the ground and when they are harvested, and where biodynamic techniques emphasize soil health over just about everything else.
“We grow in the best organic soil in the world, which we handcraft and blend with our own unique compost and amendment mix,” said Adam, who owns Hummingbird Medicinals. “Rather than using harmful pesticides, we create a secondary micro-climate within our gardens that produces the perfect environment for naturally attracting ladybugs, dragonflies, hummingbirds, and other birds—our creatures maintain a healthy garden by eating pests.”
Hummingbird Medicinals is key to our seed-to-bar approach. The farm embodies the opposite of commodity cannabis grow operations—each plant matters to the farm workers, and they create such vibrant, rich soil for the plants that the farm does not use fertilizer, which is nearly unheard of among cannabis growers. Instead, Hummingbird relies upon the soil to provide for the plants all of the nutrients they desire.
“The plant decides when it wants to eat,” said Adam. “The fertilizer is in the soil, not added.”
After harvest, Hummingbird carefully trims the plants. And then the cannabis undergoes Hummingbird’s tender and effective curing process. When it is ready, the cannabis is delivered to Sublime Concentrates, an extraction company led by guys who started Surf For Life, a nonprofit that helps build schools around the world.
“We believe in vision- and value-driven work, and our nonprofit is in alignment with what we do with cannabis,” said Sublime Concentrates founder Alex Fang. “Cannabis has helped members of our team, including me, deal with pain and other issues. We know it helps so many with enhancing their quality of life.”
These are the kinds of makers we seek as we build Défoncé. People with immense passion, as well as compassion. People who shrink from the easy way, instead hunting for the proper way. Sublime is no colossal cannabis factory, running mountains of who-knows-from-where cannabis through store-bought contraptions, and pumping out geysers of concentrate. Nope. Sublime scrutinizes the growers that want to work with the company, making sure the cannabis is grown with pesticide-free care, and the people raising it are in the business for the right reasons.
Sublime cares so much about the plant that the founders built their own bespoke extraction machines, ones that use the lowest possible temperature to gently withdraw the precious THC from the plants.
All of this seed-to-bar attention serves as the foundation of what we do at Défoncé. We work with the best growers and extractors in California, if not the country, to provide us with the finest active ingredient. The rest of it is up to us, the chocolatiers, transforming cocoa, sugar, cannabis, and more into edible pleasure.
We do not ferment our own cocoa beans, nor do we roast the beans and create the basic chocolate. Just as we do not grow our own cannabis, we leave these early steps to our fantastic chocolate makers. Chocolate makers ferment the beans, roast them, and run the product through several more steps until they create basic chocolate. Our chocolate partners work directly with farmers in cocoa-growing countries, making sure workers are paid fairly—our vendors embrace Fair Trade, but go even further, offering farmers different technologies and more to improve their success with growing organic, sustainable cocoa.
Défoncé, a chocolatier, buys this foundational product from chocolate makers. And then we use our own methods and processes to create the final product.
With such outstanding chocolate as a base, we do in-house blending with different percentages of chocolate and sugar to achieve ideal flavor profiles. All of our products now, after much experimentation, are based on master recipes that deliver the right flavor and texture with every batch. Tempering, which we do in-house, is key to everything. The process, involves the raising, lowering, and then raising of the temperature.
“We want to create one uniform structure, so you get the nice snap when you break it, it’s shiny and doesn’t melt in your hands—it melts at 96 degrees,” said head chocolatier Shiaosan Williams-Sheng. “The tempering process is necessary for proper crystalline growth.”
Most Défoncé bars involve more than chocolate and cannabis. Nuts. Fruit. Spices and herbs. Coffee. As committed seed-to-bar chocolatiers, we hunt for the finest partners and ingredients we can find. Our coffee, for example, comes from an Oakland roaster that for 60 years has been working closely with individual coffee farms to help grow and create healthy, sustainable coffee crops.
Making seed-to-bar cannabis chocolates humbles us. It takes loads of hard work and close attention. It forces us to make tough decisions that might not always please the balance sheet in the short-term, but which stand as the right steps for building a lasting company, one that honors employees, partners, consumers, and the planet. None of it could happen without your support. Thank you for being a part of our growing Défoncé family.