Queen of cacao: Lulu’s Chocolate Shoppe opens in Nevada City | TheUnion.com

Queen of cacao: Lulu’s Chocolate Shoppe opens in Nevada City

Lulu Bonner eats chocolate all day, every day.

She's not gorging on Kit Kats and Snickers. For the last 11 years, Bonner has been creating her own cocoa creations from raw cacao, making her sweet habit significantly more healthy than a Hershey's-heavy diet.

Bonner is the owner of the recently opened Lulu's Chocolate Shoppe, Nevada City's newest specialty destination. In her small storefront at the top of Broad Street, you will find everything from chocolate bars to sipping chocolates, some products infused with CBD, and treats made with pure, raw, unroasted chocolate. All of her products are vegan, organic and cruelty free, she said.

"I like to myth bust," said Bonner. "People say chocolate makes you fat or chocolate gives you acne, but it's just the sugar and the soy and the fillers people are putting in it. It's not the chocolate causing the problem. We consider ourselves an allergy-free chocolate. We're sourcing Ecuadorian wild harvested cacao."

A self-taught chocolatier, Bonner's journey into the chocolate abyss began when she visited Hawaii and a local introduced her to a cacao tree.

"I fell in love with that cacao tree and started playing with recipes, feeding it to my friends and they were just going crazy," Bonner said. "They told me I have a real talent, and said 'you have to keep doing this.'"

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Lulu's Chocolate Shoppe is lined with shelves and mirrors and a delight for every sense. Lulu's products are available in about 400 stores nationwide beside her flagship, out of which Bonner and her staff run a successful wholesale business.

Bonner is enjoying her time in Nevada City, where she relocated from Portland, Oregon, by way of Santa Cruz. Bonner was drawn to the area by a dream in which she found herself floating in the Yuba River, which she had never seen at the time. She refers to her move here as something serendipitous, and looks forward to her first Victorian Christmases this holiday season.

"My passion is finding the purity of the ingredients but then also the gourmet aspect of, hey, I am eating a gourmet chocolate. I'm not just eating something that's healthy for me. I'm still getting my fulfilling chocolate experience and it's also good for me."

Lulu's Chocolate Shoppe is located at 419 Broad Street in Nevada City. It is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., and beginning in December will be open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and during all Victorian Christmas events.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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