Meet the Founder

Posted by Danielle from Moksha on May 12th 2020

Meet the Founder

Meet Jen Caines - Founder + Face of Moksha Chocolate

Jen's upbringing in the wild of Boulder, Colorado - laid ground for her sense of adventure, love of foreign cultures, and entrepreneurship.

Jen had a magical childhood growing up with her two brothers with nature as their playground. After a conventional schooling, she sought novel experiences and enrolled to be a Rotary exchange student in Argentina. After nine months there, she discovered her love of the Spanish language and travel. The next ten years of her life were spent living and traveling abroad through Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Asia. She paid her way by working in fine restaurants and returning home to her parents’ penniless. Among the ten years of travel, she managed a degree in Spanish Literature and teaching.

In 2005, after a two-year hiatus of mountain biking, snowboarding and teaching in Telluride, the travel bug hit again and she moved to Australia to pursue her Master’s Degree. After 24 hours in Sydney, she met her husband Michael Caines. The couple had two children, Kaia and Soren. In 2012, she talked Michael into leaving his lucrative career in Sydney, and move to Boulder, Colorado so her children could experience a similar childhood and support of her two wonderful parents.

Now back in Boulder, Colorado, this couple was ready for a new adventure. Their decision was made after Gordon South, Jennifer’s brother and a Peruvian community organizer, asked them if they wanted to buy a cacao farm in Peru. Intrigued by this vision, Jen and Michael said, “Yes!” and took their first step toward creating not only their own distinctive artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate. Inspired by the name of the nearby town--Shanao, meaning “New You”-- Michael and Jennifer established Shanao Cacao: a non-profit organization based on a new model of growth and commerce known as “regenerative trade.” Simply put, by ensuring that more of the cacao profits returned to the farmers, Shanao Cacao would create an opportunity to develop and encourage environmental stewardship--thereby growing a “new life” for the whole community.

In 2014, Michael and Jennifer laid the foundation for Shanao Cacao by forming a new cooperative with local growers and helped to implement organic, bio-dynamic & sustainable farming practices. Over time, this in turn yielded a superior cacao bean, both in quality and flavor, which was valued at a significantly higher price.

In 2017, the first pilot project of four tons of single-origin, heirloom cacao beans arrived in Boulder, Colorado. Now the question became: “What do we do with all that cacao?!” Always up for a challenge, Michael enthusiastically turned his attention to learning every aspect of fine-chocolate craftsmanship. From roasting, winnowing and grinding the beans to blending a perfect small-batch bar, he strived to perfect every aspect of the process and bring out the complex, deep and unique flavors of Shanao Cacao products.

In 2019 Jennifer was inspired to pursue her own journey as a female entrepreneur and leave her career in teaching. With Michael's guidance, she created a new line of CBD bean-to-bar chocolate: Moksha. As a lifelong athlete, she had been using full-spectrum CBD for pain management and better sleep and noticed first hand its healing benefits. Jennifer instinctively knew that the combination of Shanao’s cacao and CBD would be a perfect wellness product.

In Sanskrit, Moksha means, “liberation from the cycle of life’s struggles”-- an apt metaphor for her own career and lifestyle changes and a fitting name for her new venture. Moksha chocolate is the ultimate artisan CBD chocolate, made with care from an enticing blend of sustainably-grown, single-varietal Peruvian cacao and Colorado slow-crafted CBD oil.

Jennifer and Michael’s commitment to create responsibly grown transparently produced and meticulously crafted chocolate products is at the core of Moksha, and their distinctively flavored products are perfect for the socially & environmentally conscious consumer looking for a unique, deliciously sophisticated treat.