International chocolate champs

    Acutun creates Tree-to-table chocolate in Grand Rapids and Honduras. Courtesy photo.

    A local chocolate company is emerging as a force in the global craft chocolate industry.

    Atucún, a startup that produces ‘tree-to-bar’ chocolate recently earned a prestigious silver medal at the 2023 International Chocolate Awards, covering the expansive region of the Caribbean, South America, and North America.

    “Winning a medal at the International Chocolate Awards means so much to me and the team. More people will learn of Atucún and the great history of cacao from Honduras.” said founder Efren Elvir Maradíaga.

    Atucún operates with two teams, Atucún Chocolatería in Comayagua and AtucúnUSA in Grand Rapids.

    The venture began in 2017 when two friends, Efren Elvir Maradíaga and Chad Morton of Roast Umber (a coffee company), joined forces. In 2023, AtucúnUSA expanded its operations to include domestic production and distribution of chocolate and cacao products from its facilities in downtown Grand Rapids, with retail chocolate bars available at select locations such as Lantern Coffee Bar, The Cheese Lady, and Martha’s Vineyard, among others.

    Building on these successes, Atucún has fostered partnerships with AHC Hospitality chefs at Amway Grand Plaza and the JW Marriott. Starting in October, small chocolates from Atucún artisanal chocolate will become a cherished part of the turndown service at the JW Marriott (think: those little chocolates or mints left on your pillow by the staff at upscale hotels).

    “AHC Hospitality group has been nothing short of remarkable in supporting us and providing the best products for their customers,” said AJ Paschka, a spokesperson for Atucún.

    In the wake of the award, Atucún is organizing an inaugural Michigan Chocolate Festival, taking place at Hyperion Coffee Company in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

     “This groundbreaking event is the culmination of weekly online gatherings of Michigan chocolate makers and will feature over seven companies from across the state,” said Brad Gakenheimer, cofounder of Atucún.

    The inaugural festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 23, 11 a.m.-4p.m. at Hyperion Coffee Company’s River St. location in Ypsilanti.



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