Blog

  • Final Chance for Cocoas at Intrigue Coffeehouse

    Date: Sat 29th and Sun 30th

    Time: 10am – 4pm

    Where: 1520 15th Ave Seattle WA, 98122

     

    So, the Coffeehouse is closed. BUT – we still have ingredients and a few days remaining on the lease. Come help us celebrate the journey!

    The ONLY things on the menu are our signature cocoa beverages:

    Cocoa (any flavor we have on hand)
    Gluten-free oat milk only
    8oz / 12oz / 16oz
    Complimentary upgrade to a mocha!
    To go service

    This chapter of Intrigue Chocolate is ending, but a new chapter begins. We will be focusing on our shop in Pioneer Square, our snackable and giftable chocolate creations, and our chocolate solutions for cafes. You may have already had our cocoa mixes at Anchorhead, Zoka, and Union Coffee!

    We would like to celebrate this transition with one last weekend of drink-making in the Chocolate & Coffeehouse. Please stop by, say hello, and order one of the best hot cocoas or mochas around. We’ll also have some plants that need homes. 😊

  • The Coffeehouse is Closed

    It is with a heavy heart we must inform you that the Intrigue Chocolate Coffeehouse, due to challenges presented by Covid-19, is now permanently closed. The official statement is released and negotiations with the landlord have concluded. Soon we’ll be moving out! Thank you to the whole Capitol Hill community for just over 3 incredible years, from dream to completion.

    That said, let’s celebrate the incredible journey that was building and growing a dream come true! The massive undertaking changed the chocolate we produce, how we do business, and it changed us. What an honor and privilege it was to have the opportunity to make so many incredible memories, to lead such a great team who cared deeply about your café-and-chocolate experience, to work with dedicated and passionate vendors like Conduit Coffee and Little Kitchen, and to meet so many of you wonderful people.


    The Coffeehouse Changed Our Chocolate

    We opened the Coffeehouse to show what was possible with coffee and chocolate. The two are natural partners – from mochas and hot cocoas, to sipping chocolates, to chocolate pastries and banana bread with cacao nibs, to cacao and coffee combo cold brews and slushies, to truffles and craft chocolate to enjoy with your coffee – the two just enjoy playing together. Specifically, we wanted to demonstrate how much better a chocolate drink tastes when using actual cocoa powder and chocolate, rather than the usual high-sugar low-cacao syrup from a pump bottle.

    We discovered that the average consumer thinks of chocolate as an occasional treat, coffee as a daily routine, and the combination of chocolate with coffee as something for people serious about neither ingredient. So, we quickly went to work on bridging the gap with the products we offered.

    This led us to pursue becoming makers of craft chocolate.

    Before this change, Intrigue Chocolate was considered a “confection” company. This means we made a confection with chocolate made by someone else. We used a base chocolate from Belgium for our truffle collections, and from that starting point developed over 400 flavors! They were all hand wrapped, hand stickered, and grouped into collection boxes that were hand folded and perishable.

    This level of chocolate experience was not often what customers were looking for at a coffeehouse, however. The truffles, in a sense, were great as giftable items, but too precious to be paired with coffee in the minds of our customers. So, we set to work making our own chocolate from the bean that was less expensive, non-perishable, and did not require as much explanation.

    We purchased a chocolate mill, as well as cracking and winnowing machines, learned to work directly with cacao beans, and set to work making smaller packets of chocolate with fruit inclusions, infusions, and multiple origins. Customers loved the colorful fruit, the flavors of the origin chocolate, and the lower price point. We came to think of it as “snacking chocolate”.

    We are grateful to the coffeehouse for forcing us to adapt and learn, and ultimately serve our all our chocolate-loving customers better.

     The Coffeehouse Changed Our Business

    The infant version of Intrigue began in February, 2005, but we really got rolling in late 2006, working in a shared commercial kitchen and selling our confections at wineries on the weekends. In 2009 we signed the lease on a space we converted into a kitchen in Pioneer Square, during years the neighborhood was struggling. In 2015, we opened a ground-floor retail shop in Pioneer Square - just three blocks from the kitchen - to accommodate increasing foot traffic attracted to us via our glowing online reviews. We also expanded the kitchen to a space next door that acted as our warehouse and office. Then we started building our coffeehouse in 2017 and opened in 2018.

    2020 has been a completely different kind of year. But, in so many ways the Coffeehouse was vital to our ability to navigate through all these challenges, one at a time. Even before COVID, we got the news that the building hosting our kitchen/office/warehouse would be gutted and converted to waterfront offices. We are grateful for the flexibility the coffeehouse provided as we pivoted in January. But now, as the challenge of COVID persists, we must close the Coffeehouse, too. Intrigue had grown to 14 team members in addition to owners Karl and Aaron. Intrigue is now just Aaron and Karl again, with a website, one retail location in Pioneer Square, and a cookbook full of chocolate recipes.

     The Coffeehouse Changed Us

    My Dad likes to ride motorcycles. At some point on the journey of his hobby, he twice decided to compete in the Iron Butt Rally, a long-distance riding competition. Competitors ride tens of thousands of miles over the course of two weeks, trying to maximize distance at the expense of sleep. Although he did quite well in both events (and took a strict stance on safety), he had a difficult time sharing the experience with friends and family. The first question everyone asked him was, “why would you bother doing such a thing in the first place?!” Aaron and I find ourselves facing the same question now about opening a café and being small business owners.

    The answer my Dad gave then was, “Because I wanted a challenge, and to learn about myself.”

    Although my Dad’s competition caused him a great deal of physical discomfort, he was beaming with pride at the end of both runs. He told us stories of riding through heavy rains as he tried to avoid hurricane Katrina which was south of him as he crossed the mid-states and north of him as he crossed back west through Canada. He met strangers who recognized the rider markers on his bike and the race he was competing in, and honked horns or cheered him on at gas stations. He told us stories of sleeping next to his bike on the side of the road. He told us stories of natural beauty he saw along the way.

    In a similar fashion, what we experienced in the 3 years of dreaming, building, and operating the coffeehouse makes for a lifetime of stories. Although there are too many to tell here, we would like to thank the community for the following:

    •  Open mic nights
    • Game nights
    • Conduit Coffee cuppings
    • Awkward first date
    • Awkward last dates
    • Awkward interviews
    • Students studying long hours (shout out to all those now calling themselves RNs!)
    • After-yoga socials
    • Parent / teacher meetups
    • Pumpkin carving
    • Coffee clubs
    • Chocolate Society gatherings
    • Classes with Atlas Obscura
    • Big Brother / Big Sister tutoring sessions
    • And a special thank you to everyone who visited us on the daily. You brought your kind smiles and positivity to the shop every day. You encouraged us and our staff. Know that together your small efforts made this coffeehouse what it was, and you are the stars of the stories we’ll tell for the rest of our lives.

    Thank you Capitol Hill for the opportunity to serve your community!

    - Aaron & Karl, Intrigue Chocolate Co.

  • Vegan Chocolate

    Until recently, almost everything we made included dairy. Our flagship item, the ganache chocolate truffles, was how we started in the industry of chocolate. We made something unique: dark chocolate, cream, and an infusion of flavor from many unusual ingredients. By last year we had over 400 (!) recipes. (These truffles are available seasonally now. Be sure to join the newsletter to get the heads-up when the are available).

    Because we had to close our kitchen and office when the Viaduct came down in Seattle, we shifted our focus to our craft chocolate line, and to expanding our spiced chocolate bars and our cocoa mixes. This, it turns out, means that we have many vegan chocolate options now!

    Shop all vegan chocolate options.

     

    What is “Vegan Chocolate”?

    Chocolate comes from a roasted seed, from the cacao pod fruit. You’d think this would make all chocolate vegan, correct? Well, that is as long it’s just the chocolate and nothing else. A 100% chocolate, or no sugar added (and we have a few of those options), would be vegan. But if you add more ingredients there are additional questions that must be answered.

    Many of our customers ask specifically if the chocolate is vegan before purchase, to be sure that what is added doesn’t conflict with their ethical stance on food. Sugar for instance is a very complicated subject for the vegan diet. Most white sugar goes through a process that uses bone char filtration, for instance. That's a bonus reason why we use a less-processed cane sugar.

    Dairy is an obvious no-no for the vegan diet. Did you know that for a confection to be called a “white chocolate” it must contain milk from a cow? That essentially rules out all white chocolate for vegans. Don’t worry if you are vegan, though, because we have some options.

     

     Our standards for vegan chocolate:

    • The vegan chocolate must not contain dairy.
    • The vegan chocolate should announce if it contains honey.
    • The vegan chocolate should announce if it containts white sugar.

    Let’s talk first about dairy. Although our truffles and our “goat milk” chocolates contain dairy, everything else in our store does not. This includes our vegan hot cocoa (aka vegan hot chocolate). We decided that our cocoa mix would not include powdered milk - unlike most cocoa mixes - to give you the choice of milk or alternative you would enjoy most.

    Honey and white sugar are still sometimes allowed under vegan diets, however we some exclude the items from their diets. Therefore, we have chosen to include them in the vegan collection, but announce that the ingredient is present and not include these items the chef's assortment. We use an alternative to white sugar in all our confections: Demerara cane sugar, similar to Sugar-In-The-Raw. No animal products are used in refining, and much of the natural nutrition and flavor are retained. Honey is one of the chef's favorite foods, so we use the best local honey we can find, from keepers who love their bees and are proud of their honey.

    We also offer a vegan version of a white chocolate we call “Vanilla White”. Where a white chocolate must *always* contains cows milk according to the FDA, we work around this by eliminating the dairy and using an undeodorized cocoa butter that helps to maintain a complex flavor, Demerara cane sugar for a hint of caramel, real vanilla beans, and the tiniest pinch of sea salt.

     

    Vegan Chocolate Options

    We offer vegan options in all of our categories. Check out the new Vegan Chocolate Collection to see everything that will make your vegan day!

  • Tasting Bar Turns 5 Years Old Today

    May 20th, 2015 we opened our doors to street-level retail in Pioneer Square. You can read more about that process on our blog. Start here at there are links to go backward if you want to read about the whole process: https://www.intriguechocolate.com/blogs/news/29160641-retail-update-we-re-open

    Time for some throwback photos!

    The bar tops arrived with a bit of transportation damage, so we had to hammer out some bends in the steal. Even more difficult than getting the dents out was getting the 500 lb counter top fridge up and set into that small opening! It took a few of us.

    We did a little promotional work to open the store. This image was used in a crowd-sourcing campaign that raised the funds necessary to pay the high priced items like permits and general contracting fees. (Labor for plumbing, electrical, and inspections were roughly 10 times the cost of everything else combined. This was our biggest shock during the process because we priced our our fridges, shelving, paint, etc... but then the cost of installing everything came in and really opened our eyes!)

    Today it's difficult to image the Tasting Bar in such a state of disarray. Since we work with food in this location we take upkeep and cleanliness very seriously. But from where it was at the point above, it did all eventually come together.

    It feels odd to post this blog during the COVID-closure period we are experiencing right now, but what a joy it is to look back and see how far we've come. This location evolved from a tasting bar into a functioning kitchen within the last 5 years. We've signed a new lease, so now whats in store for the next 5?!

    Of course, none of this is possible without our dear customers. Thank you for joining us on this flavor journey through chocolate.

  • Intrigue Chocolate's Health Care-Package

    Intrigue Chocolate’s Health Care-Package is off to a great start! We have generated enough funds to send out another 4 of these care packages; that makes 7 total!

    However, although we have 4 to send out we have only 3 nominees at the moment! Who is on the front line that you would like to nominate?

    If you are new to the concept of what we are offering in the “Health Care-Package”, here’s the gist: Our customers are adding a little bit extra to their online orders to put money into a fund that supports our first-response community by sending a gift of comforting chocolate for them and/or their family. We are taking nominations - an easy way to nominate someone is to email Karl@IntrigueChocolate.com, or as a message on Facebook, Instagram, or respond in the comments to this blog.

    We have received a lot of positive feedback about the effort. You can read more and participate by going here: Intrigue Chocolate’s Health Care-Package

    FAQ: Can I send chocolate to a specific first-responder?
    Answer: Yes! Place the online order like usual and make their address the shipping address. Be sure to include a note to them in the “special instructions” field during checkout. Put a few extra dollars in the fund if you would like to help a randomly chosen first-responder receive a gift.

    FAQ: Can I contribute and nominate someone?
    Answer: Yes! The contribution will go into a fund and a nominee is selected *at random*. If you would like a specific first-responder to receive your gift, simply place the order on the shopping care normally and include their address and your note in checkout.

    FAQ: What’s in the Health Care-Package?
    Answer: $30 worth of chocolate (a mix of cocoa, chocolate bars, and snacking chocolate). The other $10 covers shipping costs.

     

    Here are inspiring testimonials we’ve received. Names have been removed for privacy:

    “[Doctor] is one of the most selfless and thoughtful doctors I've known. She has been doing home visits for critical patients instead of having them compromise their SD and immune by going in public. She has also been spending her personal time delivering supplies to clients in need all over the PNW. She is amazing!

    “This is so cool, Thank you for doing this for Healthcare workers putting their lives at risk to help us in this time of need. =) “

    “[Nurse] is a Cardiovascular ICU Registered Nurse in San Francisco. He's been definitely working on the front lines and if he gets chosen to receive a care package that would just be wonderful way to show a little appreciation for the enormous role he is playing every time he goes to work.”

    “[Nurse], an ICU nurse working in the Covid unit at St. Joe's, Ann Arbor, MI. Among other things, [Nurse]'s job involves rapidly getting non ICU nurses up to speed as they bring nurses from other units in. He's was also tasked early on with figuring out how to rig up supplies in short supply. [Nurse] is working a county over from Detroit, one of the hardest hit areas in the country, and cases have been rapidly spreading out from there. [Nurse] also has a 5-year old and an 8-year old at home.”

    “Nominating [PA]! (My sister) works in urgent care as a physician’s assistant. She as hard worker and helps others whenever they need her.

    Thank you for everyone’s support! Participate in helping our first responders here: Intrigue Chocolate’s Health Care-Package

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