This is the Cannabis Cup-winning Dabba Chocolate. Provided by Dabba

Talking quality cocoa and mint with Dabba founder (interview)

When Boulder resident James Howler dreamed up a plan to create a great-tasting pot chocolate bar in late-2011, he couldn’t have expected what would come next.

“The grand plan was to launch at the High Times Cannabis Cup in April of 2012 and fly out of the gates,” said Howler, 31, who was barely getting his mint-chocolate business off the ground by the time the Cup landed in Denver.

When Howler debuted his Dabba Chocolates at the 2012 Cannabis Cup, he won 1st place in the edible category. Great news, right? Well, kind of.

“With only sample packaging and four sample molds, we were not ready for dispensary orders and the initial rush,” Howler said. “Once we started fulfilling orders in July, everything started falling in place for us.”

Howler’s chocolate is indeed a fine product — a subtle blend that is as consistent as it is potent. A small, 5mg bite of Dabba goes a long way, making it a great value — especially when you land one of their larger, 200mg bars. The mix of chocolate and cannabis and mint makes for a surprisingly sensible taste — but why choose mint for their chocolate?

“We tried a lot of different recipes,” said Howler, “but nothing came close to covering the taste of cannabis like mint.”

Dabba is nearly two years removed from its big win/coming-out party at the Cannabis Cup, but we caught up with Howler to hear more about his extraction process, his cocoa supplier and more.

It looks like your line is straightforward — a 100mg sativa, a 100mg indica and a 200mg hybrid. Is there anything else in the works?

We wanted to keep it clean, simple and easy to understand. We have been messing around with a lot of other flavors but have not settled down on the “one” yet … Hopefully soon!

How do you recommend the three different bars to potential users?

We are not doctors and do not pretend to be. We focus on manufacturing and providing our dispensary partners the best tasting, most consistent chocolates we can.

Your marketing materials touch on some foodie buzzwords — “top quality cocoa beans,” “responsibly managed farms,” “small batches,” etc. Where specifically does your cocoa come from? And what is a small batch — how many do you make in a month, and how many did you make in 2013?

Our raw chocolate comes from a small company in Teapa, Mexico, which we have a great relationship with. Many companies we tried to work with would not tell us all the information we wanted to know about the fermentation and drying processes, to roasting, to pesticide usage. With this knowledge from our supplier, we are confident that we are producing edibles of the highest quality for not only the new recreational user but also the patients that depend on us. Each batch we make produces 350 bars, and we are currently making just over 50 batches a month.

Of course before you create the chocolate you have to extract the cannabis. What’s your favorite part of the cannabis extraction process? What might surprise people about the process?

The surprise about our extraction process? Simple, natural and safe. Everything we do is back to the roots: Simple and organic. Simple bubble hash/water hash/solventless, whatever you call it — then simply activating the cannabinoids by heat. Lastly, but certainly not the least important, lab testing. Potency testing makes sure the dosage is correct, but we also test for molds, mildew, pesticides, etc., to make sure the product is the safest edible on the market.

You have plenty of competitors in the market, but what’s another pot chocolate bar out there that you appreciate?

I have a lot of respect for Dazys and Medically Correct. Both have quality products. Dazys has been around for what seems like forever, and Medically Correct has the product selection and loyal following that any business would die for.

Dabba is currently sold in Colorado dispensaries. Will they be available recreationally in the coming year?

We are in the process for recreational, but we do not have a date yet.