Founded in 2003, Lagusta’s Luscious artisanal chocolates combine a deep commitment to social justice, environmentalism, and veganism with a love of bold flavor and obsessive commitment to artisan techniques.
We work closely with small farmers and producers in our beloved town of New Paltz, New York and across the country to source everything from our Maui vanilla beans (from a tiny two-acre vanilla farm in Hawaii) to the maple syrup hand-delivered by the maker Van himself for use in our Maple Honeycomb and Maple Pecan Caramels, to the thyme in our Thyme Preserved Lemon Sea Salt Caramels, grown by farmer (and winter helper!) Jenna, a few miles away from the shop.
Click here to see where we source our chocolate from.
Our commitment to local produce runs deep—we’ve been known to take things off of farmers’ hands and create new chocolates with them on the spot. When Pete was overrun with sorrel (a broad, lemony spring green) at his farm in New Paltz, we invented a Sour Patch Kid-esque caramel to use it with.
We are always pushing ourselves, always devoted to using what’s growing all around to create new confections.
We don’t scrimp on quality, and we work with an attention to detail you will appreciate as you open the perfect box of chocolates to inhale the rich perfume of seriously luscious chocolate. Maybe, like the poet Matthew Dickman, you’ll be moved to write a poem about us.
From our 100% ethical chocolate to our 100% post-consumer recycled paper boxes and packing materials, we are a completely vegan, woman-owned and operated business committed to sustainability without sacrifice.
A few words about labels like “organic” and “fair trade.” Our products are not completely certified FT or organic. I’ve been studying this issue for 17 years, and I’ve come to feel that those terms aren’t useful for the truly ethical chocolate we’re making. The FT label is often corrupted, in some cases it’s bought outright. The book Bitter Chocolate by Carol Off is a good place to start thinking about these issues. It’s an intensely complicated issue, and our chocolate is much more than fair trade.
I’ve been to the farms in Ecuador where our chocolate is grown, and researching the cacao we use and knowing its supply chain is more important to me than a label which often doesn’t represent the values it was originally created for. I’m proud to work directly with our bulk chocolate suppliers to source chocolate I feel represents our values.
Similarly, we don’t use only USDA organic ingredients. Since the USDA took over the organic system in 2002 I’ve seen a weakening in organic standards and many loopholes created which I don’t feel comfortable endorsing. Instead, we ensure that our ingredients are organic most of the time, but we are also very proud to buy from producers who are using farming practices that go way beyond the USDA corporate definition of “organic” to truly farm in sustainable ways.
We try to look at the whole picture and understand that the labels on packaging aren’t often representative of the kind of world we want to live in, so we instead use ingredients we feel represent the values those labels are supposed to endorse but often don’t.
And of course, all of our products are vegan. I’ve been vegan over 25 years, and that will never change!
We package our chocolates in 100% post-consumer recycled paper and packing materials (if you receive junky styrofoam packing materials in your box, it’s because we’re repurposing them from our local health food store, so they don’t have to throw them out). We compost all kitchen scraps, use all eco-friendly cleaning products, and generate almost no waste.
We make all our chocolates in our lovingly renovated chocolate shop, carefully built with the most eco-friendly materials our budget could buy.
We walk the walk! And we have been since our founding in 2003 when we started shipping chocolates across the country and our brick-and-mortar shop opening in 2011. We’ve gone from employing 1 person (Lagusta) to up to 25 during busy holiday seasons.
None of this would matter if our chocolates weren’t heartbreakingly delicious, however. Our chocolates are painstakingly made by hand with truly artisanal ingredients—fresh and often local produce and fruit, organic toasted nuts, fresh-ground spices and homegrown herbs.
We don’t use fake milk or cream—we don’t use fake anything. Every day people tell us our chocolates are better than “regular” gourmet chocolates sold at fancy artisanal shops, the mall or online. And we literally wrote the book about how we walk this line and how we make our confections — check it out.