This event took place on January 19th, 2022. Registration is no longer open.

The Joy of Chocolate - From "Bean" to Bar

Join the Harvard Club of Chicago & Harvard GlobalWE for a 
Virtual Conversation and Tasting with
Chocolate Industry Leader Valerie Beck (AB 90, JD 96)


Please note: If you wish to partake in the "tasting" component, please purchase the "Woman-Owned" Set at the Chocolate Uplift Etsy Shop. Further details on shipping and pickup options below. To receive your chocolates in time for the event, please order at least 7 business days in advance for US shipping.
The Joy of Chocolate - From "Bean" to Bar
Join chocolate expert Valerie Beck (BA '90, JD '96), founder of the original chocolate tours and of Chocolate Uplift distribution and consulting, as she takes us on a virtual trip from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, focusing on the rise of "craft" or "bean-to-bar" chocolate, and spotlighting woman chocolate makers.
We'll look at how cacao is harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, ground, and more, on its journey to becoming chocolate. We'll discuss how to choose chocolate consciously, how to enjoy fine chocolate, and why chocolate was always a beverage, never a bar, for the Aztec, Maya, and Olmec people, as we look ahead to the future of one of the most beloved foods in the world.
Questions Valerie will answer include: What do you look for when choosing chocolate, such as price, ethics, cacao country of origin, cacao percentage, attractiveness of wrapper, something else? What do you think are ways to ensure that chocolate and other foods and industries contain no human rights abuses or environmentally harmful practices? And, much of taste is memory. What is your first memory of chocolate?
To partake in the "tasting" component, please purchase the "Woman-Owned" Set at the Chocolate Uplift Etsy Shop. Note: Online orders should be placed within 7 business days of the event! For non-U.S. ordering or for pickup in downtown Chicago, please Email Valerie. The pickup comes with free Golden Age cookies!
Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 6:30 pm EST, via Zoom


RegisterPlease register via the Harvard Club of Chicago's Website.
Please note, this event is complimentary for
HCC Members, Harvard GlobalWE members, and Harvard Alumni and $10 for GlobalWE friends.


Please register via the Harvard Club of Chicago's Website here                                      

About the Speaker
Valerie Beck, AB’90, JD’96
Founder and CEO, Chocolate Uplift
Chocolate expert Valerie Beck is a pioneering entrepreneur in chocolate and hospitality. Valerie created the original Chicago Chocolate Tours, which she expanded to 4 cities across the US, grew to 50 employees, and ran for 10 years, educating and entertaining tens of thousands of people about the history, health benefits, production, and selection of first-class chocolate. Valerie’s business Chocolate Uplift currently brokers and distributes bean-to-bar chocolate made by craft artisan chocolate makers, and provides consulting services to cacao growers and chocolate makers, always with a focus on ethical chocolate and sustainability. In fact, her 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate are: slavery-free, soy-free and industrial additive-free, sustainable, small-batch, and scrumptious!
A Chicago native, Valerie graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After practicing law in Europe and the US, she founded the chocolate tours and Chocolate Uplift, and is also a popular speaker, writer, chocolate show judge, and media personality.
She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and supports formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Kendall College and UCLA Extension, spreading chocolate knowledge to new generations, and continues to work with students through her virtual tutoring business Valerie’s Infinity Tutoring.
Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can improve our mood and the world! Click here for more information about Valerie and Chocolate Uplift.
Recommended reading for those interested in learning more!
  • The True History of Chocolate, by Sophie D. Coe, Michael D. Coe
  • Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa, by Órla Ryan
  • Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, by Simran Sethi
  • Chocolat, by Joanne Harris
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann
  • Blog post on Tanzania cacao and my 5 Ss of first-class craft chocolate, by Valerie Beck

Event Details 

DateWednesday, January 19, 2022
Time:  6:30-8:00pm EST (1.5 hours long)

Location: Virtual (online) event. Meeting info will be in your registration confirmation email. Click here to Register.



  • HCC Members, Harvard GlobalWE members, and Harvard Alumni - Complimentary
  • General Public - $10

Other Details 

Questions: If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact us at [email protected]
Views: Harvard Alumni For Global Women's Empowerment Harvard GlobalWE is a shared interest group of the Harvard Alumni Association. We are dedicated to the empowerment of women through education, dialogue and connection among individuals working for women's rights and freedoms worldwide. Harvard GlobalWE does not advocate a specific ideology or political or cultural agenda. We are an inclusive organization with membership open to and comprising all genders.
While membership is free, Harvard GlobalWE accepts donations from members to support its programs and initiatives. To become a member of Harvard GlobalWE, please JoinWE. To learn more, please visit our website and our Facebook group.
The views expressed during our events are solely those of the speaker(s) and participating audience and do not imply endorsement by Harvard GlobalWE and/or Harvard University.