Blog

  • Bean Counting Contest! 10 Winners!

    We’re hosting a bean counting contest! Intrigue has teamed up with Huami, makers of the Amazfit Equator activity tracking device, to host a bean counting contest at the shop. Huami generously donated 10 of these really cool (and fashionable) activity trackers as prizes, each valued at $80. So the idea of the contest is: count the beans, then count your steps!

    Aaron’s worn the equator now for 5 months. Although he’s not mastering the art of kickboxing while wearing a suit as shown in the promotional video, he has found a few very useful features that are now a part of his day-to-day. Specifically, he enjoys seeing how many steps he’s taken in the kitchen on production days as a positive reinforcement of accomplishment. At night it tracks sleep patterns which has helped him plan better. And there is a subtle, vibrating alarm feature that Aaron takes full advantage of (whereas the phone can be noisy).

    Here’s how the contest works:

    1. Go to the retail store and enjoy a complimentary chocolate tasting.
    2. Fill out a newsletter signup slip with your name and email, and write your guess on the back of the slip.
    3. We will email winners after the contest ends on May 28th. (Shipping not included)

    We have 10 of these to give away, so yes you do have a good chance of winning!

  • Week of Photos at Intrigue 4/24/17

    Sometimes the best way to communicate excitement around flavors and chocolate is through photography. Most of these photos go to our Instagram account where you can see even more of the photos the staff is creating, but we want to highlight some of the best ones each week here on the website.

    Sarah took this one of our Honey & Ginger truffle and really captured that sweet deliciousness that is honey. Honey softens the warmth of the ginger just slightly, so that it lingers after the chocolate has melted away.

    Matt was finally able to meet our long time partner Zen Dog (actually his name) from Zen Dog Tea House. We make a few custom flavors for Zen Dog using his tea blends, which you can try at our shop right now. Matt says, "What a great guy! Hope I’m as cool as he is when I’m his age." Good luck Matt! That's a tall order.

    Matt took a few truffles with him to share on the trail this week. Chocolate is always better with friends! Dark chocolate is a staple trail food snack, too. The truffles take that concept to a new level. Trick is keeping them from melting! But who cares, really, if it's melty when you're on the trail?

    Aaron looking quite mischievous as he serves up some of the chocolate-coffee dollop during our After Hours session at the shop. Seriously this is DELICIOUS and a front-running consideration for carrying at the shop all the time. It's made by blending fresh, organic heavy cream and lots (and lots) of our house-made vanilla hot cocoa mix until it’s thick and decadent. Imagine something like the texture of butter, but with a rich chocolate flavor, melting slowly over a small, hot cup of coffee.

    New Star Anise truffles at the shop. They’re just so pretty how could we resist taking pictures? Anise is such a beautiful flavor, and it's used as a subtle enhancement in so many of the foods we enjoy, but the spice itself gets a bad reputation due to the unpopularity of super-strong black licorice. It's so good though!

  • Introducting 3 New Cocoa Mix Flavors

    We are proud to introduce three new hot cocoa mixes in our lineup! In addition to Vanilla, Lavender, and Jamaican, we now offer:

    • Cardamom
    • Mint
    • Cinnamon

    All six flavors of cocoa mix are now available to order through our online store, for purchase at the shop (where we also prepare hot cocoa drinks or iced chocolate milk to-go). All our cocoa mixes continue to be dairy free, and all three use real ingredients to flavor (instead of extracts) keeping flavors all very natural tasting and not too sweet.

    Backstory

    These three flavors became shop favorites after repeated experiments we conducted over the past year at our weekly, complimentary After Hours event on Thursday from 6pm-8pm. Every now and then an experiment is well received enough to make its way onto a special promo menu at the shop for sale. These new flavors were very much loved, and so we decided to expand our lineup.

    You’ve likely noticed that our packaging has become much more colorful. This was a recommendation by a couple very talented designers who recently started their own design firm called Headquarters in West Seattle. They made the case that our more limited color palette of brown and chartreuse worked when our product line was small, but as we expand we must assist the customer who is navigating products on the shelf first by size, shape, and color, not just by name. 6 cocoa cans of all the same colors would be too confusing and would look like a single flavor. So we added color to our brand, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.

    Let us know what you think!

  • Holiday Chocolate, New Tea Infusers, and Photos

    It’s the holiday season! That means the kitchen and the shop are in full swing, and all hands are on deck. This is the most exciting, most intensive time for the Intrigue staff. And it’s wonderful. Happy holidays, everyone!

    Holiday Update

    Alert: Last Day for Web Shipments

    The last day to order chocolate with a reasonable expectation that it will show up before the 25th is Tuesday, the 20th. We will still ship out Wednesday the 21st and Thursday the 22nd, but depending on how far the chocolate needs to travel, and the efficiency of the USPS, it may or may not arrive before Sunday the 25th. Any orders received later than noon on Thursday the 22nd will be shipped out the following Monday, the 26th.

    New Products: Tea/Coffee Infusers, Cocoa Cups, and "Reverse French Press"

    We’ve added a few items to the shelf for the holidays that are complimentary to the teas and coffees we already sell. There’s a lot of science behind the brewing process, and each method yields a slightly different flavor. At Intrigue, we tend toward methods that allow the coffee or tea a maximum exposure to the water during the brew process, and we prefer tools that are easy to clean. So, we picked up a few gadgets for you that we recommend (and that we use ourselves). Our staff are happy to talk about the big benefits in these small packages.

    Lights up!

    Holiday lights are up in the shop! Our building managers put up garland on the outside of the building every year, so we try to echo the season with the lights in our window. It always looks so festive, and casts a warm light throughout the shop. Quite cheerful.

    Corporate Orders

    We’ve had the good fortune to work with several partners this year for their holiday orders. For one of our larger orders we had to get a little creative. Check it out!

    These cocoas + mug gift were part of a larger package being shipped by the client, and we hope it makes an impression. Now that we have this figured out, it is something we’ll offer other businesses next year.

    We might sell out

    Truffles are always our limited resource in December. Since they are perishable, we have a limited window in which we can produce enough to fill demand. This year is different because we have more staff than we’ve had in the past, but not that different because demand is the highest it’s ever been. For us that means some late nights over the next two weeks. For you, that means order sooner than later! We push ourselves to fill every order we can through the 24th, but demand this year is particularly high, and it’s already a close call. The additional products we carry in our shop now seem like a holiday gift to ourselves, and an extra opportunity for you to find something for the trickier giftees on your list.

    TMC

    This season we are highlighting the Truffle of the Month Club membership. We’ve made some changes you might like. In addition to a collection of chocolate every month, the membership includes a 30% discount online all the time, or 30% off anything in the store the day you come to pick up your chocolate. This also means you can gift a TMC to someone else who receives the chocolate every month, but gives you the discount for the duration of that membership. Think about it!

    Cool Photos from the Team

    Last month we introduced the concept of our team contributing to our social media. It’s been a huge success! Here’s a few of the photos the team has contributed so far:

    We also had the good fortune of winning a Square Register photo contest! The goal was to show off the NFC + chip system with a photo. A big *high five* to Matt for the photo that won us about $250 (which will go toward our next team building / fun activity). It's also a fun reminder that we can accept Google Wallet and Apple Pay, so you can pay securely with your phone.

    What’s Next

    New Cocoa Labels Coming

    Our new cocoa labels are in! You won’t see these beauties on the shelf just yet, but they will trickle in as we move through inventory. We didn’t have time to release the other flavors of cocoa this year in time for the holidays, but this is an early announcement that they will be available soon: Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Mint.

    Increase in Minimum Wage

    This is a difficult and controversial topic, so I want to avoid the politics of it with this post. But it is important to acknowledge: increasing wages for our fine team means increasing prices on our fine products. Everything we make is by hand – the confection, wrapping and labeling each truffle, folding and assembling the boxes, free sampling and long conversations with customers in the shop - so the issue affects us even more than larger companies. I may follow up with a more detailed post about how a minimum wage affects us, and affects the decisions we’ll make in the future, but for now it’s just an early notice that we’ll need to adjust in January. The bright silver lining about the whole affair is this: when you buy from Intrigue you directly support the hard working Seattle people that provided you a small luxury. And that’s what a business is supposed to be about, right?

  • Chocolate Festival, New Team Members, and Shop Update

    Hello, chocolate lovers! It’s been a particularly busy and amazing summer for us. We’ve hired more staff, built new relationships with other chocolate companies and coffee shops, and we’re starting to feel better about our communication infrastructure, both for team and production. That means we are starting to think seriously about our next growth step, whatever that might be. But first, let’s talk about fun things you can do this month.


    Upcoming Events

    Northwest Chocolate Festival

    The Northwest Chocolate Festival is just around the corner, November 12-13 at Pier 91! This is one of the biggest festivals of chocolate in the country. Every year the dynamic and culture of chocolate in America seems to change, get more interesting. This will be our 7th year in attendance, and we’ve definitely seen a shift from pioneer roots to a focus on refinement and quality. And, every year, someone brings something new that blows our minds: traditional Ecuadorian sipping chocolate, a tasting flight of an origin bean prepared in slightly different ways, chocolate that literally says “do not eat this” on the package because it’s so spicy. Come taste, learn, and enjoy with us.

    We recommend coming early, staying late, bringing a bottle of water and a salty snack, and carrying a shoulder bag for your goodies.

    Early bird discount is still available online here: www.nwchocolate.com/

    Corporate Order Alert

    If you are interested in chocolate for corporate gifting or holiday parties, it is easier on everyone to place your order during November so we can plan production cycles. We have many different solutions for you – email me if you’d like details: karl@intriguechocolate.com


    Shop Happenings

    Welcome Our New Team Members

    Matthew Harrison

    “Hey there! I'm Matt, the new retail manager at our shop in Pioneer Square. I've always loved fine foods with fascinating histories like chocolate, wine, cocktails and tea. Intrigue is a perfect place for me because I get to nerd out about food, history and science all at once! I'll be down here at the shop a lot and I'm looking forward to getting to know our regulars and exploring the neighborhood.”

    Val Nigro

    "Hi, I'm Val! I sling chocolate at our shop in Pioneer Square. I'm also a tour guide for the Seattle By Foot Coffee Crawl, and I used to be a tour guide at a chocolate factory, so clearly I love getting paid to dish out tasty samples AND interesting facts! Plus I love our awesome, ever-changing truffle flavors. What more could you want? Well I also do stand-up and sketch comedy, so who knows--you might even get a free joke with that purchase..."

    Lindsey Miller

    "Working at the shop collides both my artist and technical side, much like my photography. You know you're a science nerd when you study colorimetry for fun, and read for pleasure about optical engineering. Stop by Intrigue and talk shop with me! I'll tell you all about that z-axis focusing while you sip on some amazing hot cocoa."

    Team Social Media Support

    Social media is a hot topic for a small business because it’s frankly very hard to do well. How many pictures of the truffles do you really want to see, ya know? When it falls to one person already wearing many hats, consistent posting is difficult to maintain. So we are trying a new approach: opening up communication to the whole team.

    We are still figuring out what this looks like, but for starters our Twitter and Instagram accounts are getting frequent input from the shop staff. Here are some of the beautiful photos that have come from our team already:

     

    Our only rule so far has been to make each post worthwhile and real, not all about sales. Conversation is far more interesting and it’s a principle that guides everything we do. That also means, though, that our voice will be shared on those channels and we’ll learn what that implies as we go. When you “like” a post, know that it is influencing what we put more of into the world in the future.

    Lighting Upgrades

    Seattle gets really dark in the winter. People think that it rains here all the time. It doesn’t really, but it is nearly always grey and daylight hours are short. Lighting is key. In preparation, we added several fixtures to the back wall, and a lighting track to the front windows. We are having a flickering problem with the lights in the windows (any of you know why LED lights will flicker with more than one on the track?), so we have only the one light there at the moment. It has already made a big difference to keeping the shop feeling cozy and welcoming.


    What's Next?

    Wholesale Update

    One of our goals this year was to build our wholesale client list. At that goal we’ve had limited success; we jumped into the water, found out it was a little chilly, and climbed out. So what happened?

    I suppose the overarching issue is that we, the whole team, are not good at “pushing” a product. Our focus is on luring people into having a good time and a good experience, much more of a “pull” approach.

    We are changing our strategy to align more with what we are good at. We are going to double down on our other goal this year: creating good content we can share with you all. If you are in a place or position where you want to use our cocoa mix to make mochas at your coffee shop, or serve chocolate at your winery or event, you can contact us when you’re ready. We’ll work to make that process as easy as possible.

    Chocolate Bars

    This is the really exciting news and a completely pre-mature announcement. We’ve made some headway and are moving on these. We’re looking forward to sharing all our thoughts on this topic soon!

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