This chocolate really has hips,” said London Coe, owner of Dayton’s Peace on Fifth, as she savored a piece of rare chocolate during my first visit to her shop last year. I was new to chocolate, and still learning technical terms like nibs and pods.
“What does hips mean?” I asked earnestly.
“Oh, that’s just my Black Girl Magic. I just mean it has a swing to it.”
This is the experience of learning about and tasting chocolate with Coe. Her descriptions aren’t confined by culinary language, and she gives people permission to engage with emotions and memories during the tasting experience.
Peace on Fifth, located just northwest of downtown Dayton, has one of the best selections of bean-to-bar, slavery-free chocolate in Ohio (including a few bars you can’t find anywhere else), as well as other ethically sourced goods. Coe’s desire to educate the public about the global child slavery epidemic led her to open the shop in 2011. At the time, around 80% of the world’s chocolate was produced using slave labor. In the years since, bean-to-bar producers seeking responsibly grown raw ingredients have helped inch that number lower.
Beyond their ethical origins, these artisan chocolates are also really, really good, and Coe feels the young industry is exciting and dynamic. “Chocolate right now is like the birth of hip hop in the ’80s,” she reflects. “There were wisps of it before, but then there was this explosion that changed everything. Chocolate is seeing the same thing now. It’s a scientific field, but it’s also an artistic and emotional field.”
Coe is happy to let shoppers sample different chocolates. Witnessing her passion for these unique flavors firsthand and hearing the stories of the makers highlights the educational component that’s a big part of her business.
“Part of the value of education is to help us grow our curiosity,” she says. “The more information you get, the more curious you become.”
Peace on Fifth
118 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH
937.367.7612 // PeaceOnFifth.com
A professional writer and Certified Cicerone, much of his writing is about books and film (he is a National Book Critics Circle member), he writes a lot about beer too! David is a regular contributor to Craftbeer.com, PorchDrinking, Indiana on Tap, and Dayton City Paper’s beer section.