Meet the Chocolate Maker Michael Caines
This Father's Day, we would like to dedicate this weeks blog to -Michael Caines, the man behind the chocolate making and co-founder of Moksha. The story of beating all odds to become an entrepreneur and world-class chocolate maker.
Michael grew up in a small country town in Australia (with a population of less than 1000 people) with a single mom and older sister. He learned resiliency and independence from an early age; the family had very limited resources and Michael spent much of his childhood alone tinkering with computers. Michael always felt like an outsider, he left for Sydney the minute he graduated high school, to expand his education and find his place in the world.
In Sydney, Michael found his talent for growing and cooking food. He became a horticulturalist, studied native ecology and worked as a cook in fine restaurants. When he was 23, he became a father, and his daughter Injika became the center of his life.
His first career break came in 2001 when he started working for a small networking company. Michael was a self-taught IT nerd and he finally found his niche. In two years, he transformed a small company into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. In 2006, with the urging of his new American wife Jennifer, he started his own company. For the next 5 years Michael ran a thriving business as a network architect and reseller of IT equipment. In the meantime, the couple had two children, Soren and Kaia.
Although the couple had a wonderful life in Sydney, Jen urged Michael to move to Boulder, Colorado to be close to her family. Begrudgingly, he left his successful career to move to start a new life in the US. In 2012 the couple arrived in Boulder and bought a house built in the 1950’s. Michael had experience building, and was never afraid of new challenges, he decided his next project would be building a house. For the next two years he remodeled the house and sold IT equipment on the side. His wife Jen encouraged him to continue working in IT, but his heart wasn’t in it anymore. He longed to return to food and farming.
In 2013, his new career path was paved when his brother-in-law Gordon, asked him to buy a cacao farm in Peru. Upon visiting the town in 2014 and seeing that little of the local cocoa farm’s value was retained by the community, Gordon and Michael decided to build a resource management system that could raise the quality of the cacao and devise a way to keep more of the commodity wealth in the local community. Their goal was to pay the farmers more than market value to improve the local economy, and encourage stewardship of the rich farmland that yields such high-quality cacao beans farmed in the traditional manner.
In 2016-17, Michael’s first pilot project of four tons of single origin cacao arrived in the U.S. Meanwhile, Michael learned to make chocolate by watching YouTube videos and practicing in his own kitchen. Although the dream seemed impossible, the chocolate was just too delicious. Ever since, Michael has been honing his skills to create some of the finest chocolate in the world.
His commitment to enrich the indigenous community and preserve the surrounding eco-system of Shanao, Peru, is fundamental to his identity as a business owner. Michael intends to implement his regenerative trade model throughout South America.
Michael hopes his legacy will improve the lives of cacao farmers all over the world.
Like most entrepreneurs, he’s not afraid to dream big.
When Michael's not making chocolate he’s busy cooking gourmet food, gardening, and building a sauna.
It is never too late to give Dad the gift of chocolate, made with love from one dad to another~ Happy Father's Day to all!