• Sourcing Cacao Ethically

    Several articles were published recently discussing forced child labor in third world countries for the harvesting, fermenting, and drying of the cacao bean, the first stages of the chocolate making process. In these countries, there are some bad actors who are irresponsible and abusive. You can read the details in some of the articles published, but I won’t post them here.

    At Intrigue Chocolate Co we work only with providers that we trust, who assure us that they have teams who are on the farms, who work with the farms to produce the cacao bean. We reached out to the provider for the bulk of our chocolate, Puratos/Belcolade in Belgium, and they had the following to say about the issue:

    “I read that article as well as it is completely legitimate. You and I, however, have nothing to worry about. Puratos is firmly against using child labor and go so far as to put in place supervisors on the farms to ensure that the farmers we partner with adhere to our ethical good business practices. Puratos has even put in place our own sustainability program called Cacao Trace. Remember , we showed you the CT chocolates? This program not only purchases high quality Cacao at a premium rate but also reinvests time and money educating them in techniques that produce stronger healthier crops for future success. We have documentation to prove this as well as a letter from corporate explaining our position should you need it. Your continued faith in us is not undeserved."

    Some of our chocolate is made from the bean here in our facility in Seattle. These cacao beans we buy from trustworthy sources, who favor cacao that is certified “fair trade” and “organic”, or that would meet those standards if they could afford the certification. As consumers of chocolate, we must all be aware that those labels cost money. Farms that cannot afford “fair trade” or “organic” certifications don’t have the label on their packaging, even if they are completely organic (most farms in third world countries do not spray chemicals on their orchards), or traded fairly (with our distributors who vet the farms and work with them directly), and are free of forced child labor. Chocolate-makers and chocolatiers also have to pay for the right to use many of those labels.

    Over the past 14 years we’ve taken steps to ensure that while we are focused on making tasty treats we are also doing good in the world. It is important to us! As a small company, though, what we can do is ensure we are working with partners we trust. We do trust our partners, and we thank them for their hard work.

  • Coffee Milk Slushy

    Serving up a sample of this delicious new Coffee Milk Slushy to a customer at the coffeehouse, which she’d never heard of before, I mentioned the drink “coffee milk” was more popular on the East Coast. She replied that she was from the East Coast and had never heard of it.

    So, taking that as kind of challenge, the way you challenge a Scrabble word play, we decided to do a bit more research. Turns out that I was not wrong – Coffee Milk is more popular on the East Coast. In fact, it is the official state beverage of Rhode Island. But it is still not widely known there, either. Turns out we were both right.

    So what is a Coffee Milk Slushy?! Well it’s pretty simple really – we make a coffee syrup in the kitchen (we make all our syrups in house), add it to milk, and put it in the slushy machine to give it an iced-milk consistency. The flavor is lightly coffee, sweet, and refreshing. The caffeine content is lower than a cup of coffee, but still enough that you will feel the buzz.  

    (Not served in a Cortado glass unless requested.)

    Another fun tidbit about Coffee Milk is that when it was coined, the term “milk shake” meant syrup added to milk and shaken. A milkshake as we know it today, ice cream and syrup whipped together, was known then as a “cabinet”, which probably referred to the dispenser of such a creation was part of a large refrigeration cabinet in the back of the restaurant. (source)

    The most complicated step in making coffee syrup is getting the sugar to water ratio correct. While we boil other syrups to infuse spices and dissolve the sugar, you don’t want to boil coffee and potentially change its flavor. So, the measurements must be precise. You can see Justin putting in the careful work below.


    Coffee milk slushy is currently available at the Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, and will be available for the remainder of spring and into early summer.

    If you are not able to make it to the Capitol Hill location, you can try our coffee syrup in milkshake made over at Meg’s Hamburgers in Pioneer Square (truly delicious).

  • Intrigue's Aaron and Karl in Brooklyn

    Intrigue's Aaron and Karl spent 3 exciting days in NYC this week! The Brooklyn-Queens Connector project sponsored us to share our Seattle street car experience. Aaron served on a panel with other small business owners from Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Portland. We represented Seattle well, we learned about how serious Brooklyn takes their chocolate, and we were inspired by all the culture, art, and history.

    Street Car

    BQC proposed project

    The panel was relatively easy considering it was a local government event. Sometimes those scenes can get heated. Where our experience was mostly around mitigating construction impact to storefront, these communities were more concerned with what neighborhoods will be served, loss of parking, and cost. We also fielded a lot of questions about the impact of Amazon on Seattle, which is still a hot topic there.

    Aaron spoke with confidence and did his best to inspire the crowd. There are so many benefits the street car brings to Seattle, but how construction is planned must take small business voice into account from the beginning, like they are doing with the BQC. Aaron had some tips about what construction / timing pitfalls to watch out for, and how to handle certain problematic situations.


    This was the fun part of the trip. We were put up in the posh Reynard Hotel, previously a barrel making factory. The walls were rough brick, the ceilings huge planks of old wood, and the floors were heated, smoothed concrete. There was a two way mirror in the shower and funky wallpaper. It was delightful, weird, and outside was cold, and windy.

    We went to Mast Brothers chocolate. Mast bars were part of our hotel mini bar, and everyone in the neighborhood knew of the brand. Brooklyn treats their chocolate makers like an integral part of the neighborhood vitality and charm, even though Mast had a troublesome PR issue that hurt the whole craft chocolate industry.

    Chocolate is a thing in Brooklyn. The hot cocoas and mochas we had were made with fine chocolate. It was so inspiring to know that we do the same for Seattle, even if we are still figuring out how to communicate the beauty and cultural significance of craft chocolate here. We came back with ideas.

    Speaking of great mochas, a special shout out to a small café called Bakeri. It was so charming, delicious, female-run, and authentic. Please include this spot on your list of sites the next time you go.

  • Flowers & Chocolate at Intrigue

    Valentine’s Day got a little easier – this year, get your chocolate and your flowers both at Intrigue Chocolate!

    Intrigue Chocolate is partnering with Love Blooms this year to offer bouquets of flowers to accompany boxes of chocolate. Love Blooms is offering two different styles of bouquet, one in red and one in white.

    Chocolate and flowers are a classic match for Valentines Day. Chocolate is available in our stores all the time, and flowers will also be available from Feb 14th – Feb 17th.

    We encourage you to pre-order in our stores! We have forms in both locations for your convenience. Sorry, we cannot take pre-orders by phone at this time.

    Stop on by this Valentine’s Day for all your romantic gifting needs this year. Thank you in advance to shopping in your local communities. See you then!


  • Womxn's March Poster Making Event at the Coffeehouse

    (photo credit to the Boston Globe)

    This Friday, the 18th, from 6pm – 8pm, we are hosting a poster making session for the Womxn’s March on Saturday, the 19th. Bring your own poster board, and we’ll provide markers and table space!

    Intrigue has decided to support this event because of its’ focus on inclusion and equality. From the Seattle Womxn’s website, “…as Martin Luther King taught us, the true path to peace requires the presence of justice, not merely the absence of tension. To build power, we must first name and dismantle injustice inside ourselves, inside our institutions, and inside our culture.” Intrigue supports healing, collaboration, equality, and the protection of at-risk populations.

    If you’d like more information about the march, check out the website here:

    During the day of the march, the 19th, we will offer a 10% discount to anyone that comes to the coffeehouse with their sign in hand. See you then!

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