Back in 2007, when Tom Zell was courting Clover Earl, he made her a cup of rich drinking chocolate for Valentine’s Day.

“I said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” Earl says.

Half in jest, she suggested they start a company. Soon, Sipping Dreams was born. The Eugene-based company sells European-style drinking chocolate bars, and is accomplishing what Earl originally hoped — sharing a wonderful treat with lots of people.

Many, she says, are unfamiliar with real drinking chocolate. “Most people, in this country at least, think of hot cocoa as hot chocolate.” While hot cocoa is a lighter drink made from a mix of cocoa powder and sugar, true hot chocolate is melted chocolate, which is thick and creamy due to the cocoa butter content. (Typically the bars are melted in cow’s milk, but coconut and almond milk are vegan alternatives.) Drinking chocolate is meant to be sipped in small portions.

Some say the beverage dates as far as back as 1,000 B.C. to Mayan culture. Modern day Sipping Dreams currently sells two varieties — Original Flavor and Peppermint Snap, both made from a proprietary blend of Guittard Chocolate with a cacao content of about 68 percent. Earl says a third variety with cayenne pepper, cardamom and 15 other herbs and spices will be available this spring.

About the size of a deck of cards, Sipping Dreams drinking chocolate makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Order online or buy from one of the many Oregon stores listed on their website.

Sipping Dreams donates a portion of its revenues to local nonprofits, most recently Food for Lane County and Ophelia’s Place, an organization that empowers young girls.

Look for Sipping Dreams at ChocolateFest at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland and the Good Earth Home Garden & Living Show in Eugene, both January 18 through 20, and at the Oregon Chocolate Festival, March 1 through 3 at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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