Hello, Intrigue Chocolate fans! There is so much happening behind the scenes. We are starting to place big orders and finalize plans, and the whole team is working hard to make sure we open a coffeehouse that will actually be enjoyed by you, the people we are building it for!
(BTW, you can see more beautiful images our team is producing, like the one above, by going to our Intrigue's Instagram.)
Happening at the Pioneer Square Tasting Bar
Aaron is excited to share with you his exploration of Molasses this January. Often forgotten in modern cuisine, molasses is associated with the flavor of old-fashioned candies and baked goods which are often rich, earthy, and mildly sweet. It’s the perfect winter post-holiday flavor because it reminds us of warm and cozy places.
There are two truffles right now with molasses in the tasting room. Here's what Aaron has to say about them:
Molasses & Sea Salt Truffle – "My mother sometimes made a special winter treat for the family: warm molasses milk. Perfect for a bedtime snack, it’s like being wrapped in one of grandma’s handmade quilts."
Ginger & Molasses Truffle – "If I was allowed to say only one thing about this truffle, it’d have to be “gingerbread cookie dough”. What else do you need? :D"
(You can order some from our online chocolate shop.)
Construction Status Update
Shop construction is underway! The old bars have been demolished, the floors are sanded and ready to be sealed.
Even the bench along the south wall was removed, which completely changed the feeling of the room!
Where large sections of older walls came down to give us an extra three feet along the north wall, new drywall is being install.
We cut out the section of shelving that was blocking the window. We’ll put in new shelves and treat the cabinet in walnut. All this extra light will make it feel more open in the space, and be a perfect spot for lot of plants and greenery.
The kitchen floor has a new surface to make it waterproof and food prep ready.
There is some work to be done to relocate electrical switches and finish ceiling repair.
One of the biggest projects on the plate was to define the equipment we needed, down to the exact model, for health permitting and inspection scheduling. We finished that last week, and will be ordering everything shortly so it arrives in time to be installed.
The most exciting part of that equipment ordering process: The espresso machine, and it's BEAUTIFUL.
This is the Mavam brand of machine, where most of the machine will be below counter. This was an important design consideration for us because now the barista can engage with the customer while preparing the cup of coffee, and the customer can see the whole process.
How Intrigue is Changing
Our team has grown in advance of opening our new shop, partly to help with the holiday season, and partly to get people trained and excited before stepping into a new concept. It also means we’ve added a whole new set of skills to the team! Here are some of the major changes to how we conceptualize our brand with the addition of the coffeehouse:
The Pioneer Square “Shop” will now be called the “Tasting Bar”. This has happened naturally on the team as we talk about two different locations, and “Tasting Bar” describes better the service you can expect to have there. It is a place to discover new flavors, have an experience, and pick up a gift. It is where we will focus on the craft of chocolate making, share our knowledge about spices, and demonstrate the ways we enjoy using the products we sell. It will be a place to show off Aaron’s artistry with chocolate - the foundation of our business - and to learn something new together.
We’ve started defining the “Coffeehouse” on Capitol Hill as a place for community and conversation. Here you can meet with friends and have a shared experience over coffee and chocolate. Try something new the team has worked up, like a specialty tea or a small-batch origin sipping chocolate. We want to provide a forum for all types of gathering, whether it be a business meeting, a date, or a place for individuals to hang out and feel welcome.
In our research, it’s nearly always the staff who set the tone for the customer experience of the location. Our team has started embracing this. How do we provide consistently excellent service every day? How do we set each other up so we enjoy working as a team, because the customer feels that, too. It’s become our mission to provide the most consistent and positive experience for our customers as possible, from quality ingredients to staff working relationships.
And last but not least, we want to showcase Aaron’s artistry in a more direct way. We’ve always assumed that people understood that this is an “artisianal” product, but the more we talk about Aaron’s craft, the better our product is understood. We want people to know that the chocolate truffles Aaron crafts are a work of art. They are meant to be enjoyed slowly, and pondered. We are not the sweetest caramel company, or the meltiest milk chocolate company. We are a company that explores the world of flavor through chocolate and coffee, and we want to share that with you! Aaron will be your guide, and a joyful one at that.
See you soon!