February 09, 2016 2 Comments
Hello family and friends!
There’s so much to share this post. It is amazing to think that only a couple months ago we were sprinting through the holiday season, packing up crazy amounts of chocolate to ship all over the country, and having the pleasure of seeing so many of your familiar faces in the shop.
Valentine’s Day Alert: if your chocolate needs shipping, please place your order no later than Wednesday, February 10th.
Someone once told me it takes two years before you really feel completely cozy in a new space. That’s certainly true for us. Slowly but surely we add new items to the shelf, add signage, move lighting to bust shadows, etc. Part of settling in is finally offering those products we've been talking about for ages.
We spent about six months with Jason Grube, one of the designers for our previous box packaging, discussing a more macro-level design framework to handle new, not specifically chocolate, products to the shelf. The colors, shapes, and materials all need to work together to be beautiful, appetizing, and clear. Jason did a stand up job, as always.
Sticking closely with the goal of flavor discovery, here’s what we’ve released so far:
Hot Cocoas Added to the In-Store Menu: This is not really a new update, but worth mentioning since it hasn’t been mentioned already in the blog. We are making hot cocoas in the shop. They are delicious. They are popular. Aaron makes a homemade cardamom whipped cream for on top that is remarkable. Come in and ask for a cup!
Nibs, Hulls, and Beans: Beans have been for sale on our shelf for a while, but now we offer nibs and hulls as well. You might already be familiar with nibs; you may see them coupled with super foods in stores already. But if you’re unfamiliar, nibs can be used like pine nuts on salads, or even baked into cookies like walnuts. The hulls make for a delicious tea (just error on the side of a light tea, and steep it for 10min, a little longer than normal).
Tea Blends: Some of these blends are also truffle flavors, but some of them are new creations from Aaron. The Honey Red Lemon, a mix of honeybush, lemongrass, and rooibos, has quickly become a staff favorite and one we serve in the shop sometimes.
Flavored Syrups: Syrups are a long time in the making. Last year we started making them seriously by request of a local coffee shop, Convoy Coffee, as a fresher and tastier alternative than corn syrup based flavors. With Convoy's help we found some successful blends that we started serving in the shop as Italian sodas, mixing into the whipped cream, etc. Now you can take the syrup home, too! Add a little cardamom sryup to make a Turkish coffee, or a little lavender syrup to a screwdriver to remind you that spring is on the way.
Bean-to-bar-Chocolate: We really want to release a chocolate bar someday. That effort takes capital, equipment, and knowledge we don’t have currently. But customers that come to our shop are sometimes looking for a product that is not perishable, does not contain dairy, or maybe something “plain”. These bean-to-bar makers are doing something special and we recommend them. They are not available on the website (you can find them online other places), but we do want to give you the option if you’re in the shop.
We ran out of space! What used to be our kitchen, office, and retail location was bursting a the seams. Too much square footage we built-out to make chocolate became cluttered with storage.
So we expanded. The office space next to us was previously rented by the crews working on the big tunneling project. They didn't renew the lease, so we jumped on it. It’s the same size and cost as our kitchen space, about 800 sq ft. Unfortunately that's more footprint than we planned to buy at this time, but we figured it was worth the cost to claim it in preparation for the next couple years.
new storage space
new office space (not finished!)
This expansion allows us to move our office and storage, reclaim our current kitchen space which is all certified food production space, and to take advantage of an extended lease offered to us by the landlord in exchange. We now have both spaces through December of 2017, an extension of a year total on the kitchen space, giving us two more holiday seasons at least. This building, which is right on the water and the gateway building for a large park and beach planned by the city, will most likely become condos when the viaduct comes down. Change is inevitable.
Flavored Sugars: This is the last product in the expansion, and we hope to have them on the shelf in the next week or two. Flavors will be: cardamom, lavender & loomi, hibiscus & rose, vanilla bean, and lavender. If you are in Pioneer Square this Thursday, Aaron will be sampling the hibiscus & rose petal sugar at our Valentine’s Day after hours event from 6pm – 8pm. Come on by!