• The “Classic” Cup of Cocoa?

    At Intrigue Chocolate, we have some opinions on what makes the perfect cup. We started by designing the flavor of the cocoa mix. Now, in collaboration with local Seattle ceramist and graphic designer, we are presenting the mug. Both are available now as a bundle Online.

    Although Corianton has been slinging clay as a side hustle for years, he is most well known for his graphic design work. At 25 he became the youngest Art Director for The Stranger, a well known Seattle news publication. He’s designed brand identities for restaurants, nightclubs, and Intrigue Chocolate Co! You can see more of his graphical work here:

    Aaron and I were recently at one of Corianton’s informal pottery shows and were struck by inspiration – a hand-crafted clay mug might just be the perfect vessel for hot cocoa. It’s tactile, rustic, and radiates warmth when held in the hands. But what about all of the other details?

    We brainstormed.

    Size – this cup is roughly 12oz. We determined this volume based on what we see customers like best at the coffeehouse. A 12oz mug is large enough for a full serving of cocoa, but not so large that it is difficult to hold. It leaves enough room for marshmallows or whipped cream, if that is part of your “classic cocoa” experience.

    Ridges – Corianton suggested the smoothly spiraled finger ridges because they were so satisfying to hold. Hands just naturally mold to the suggested grip. Because they are subtle, they have the benefit of fitting every hand shape, while also feeling bespoke. The extra curve means more of your hand can touch the mug and warm up.

    Color – Deep, rich, and speckled, just like cocoa powder. We chose a reflective, light glaze that will give the saturated brown of the hot cocoa some delicious contrast, while leaving the satisfying but stark white to the marshmallows.

    Who do you know that loves hot cocoa?

    Give the gift of experience this year, give the gift of hot cocoa. We have coupled the mug and the cocoa together to make a “Classic Cocoa Gift Set”, available now in our retail stores (Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill), and Online.

  • Snacking Chocolate - Broken Slab Line

    Snacking chocolate, our Broken Slab line, is our expression of fascinating ingredients paired with fresh, high quality craft chocolate made from the bean and wrapped in informal packaging. This is the newest creation of Intrigue Chocolate, and what we hope will appeal to the customer looking for a small treat every day.

    An average chocolate bar is packaged into a fancy box, envelope, or wrapper to look beautiful on a shelf. This chocolate bar experience is best suited as a gift because of its visual appeal, or for the chocolate lover who carries a bar with them at all times – in a desk drawer, pouch or purse, or left on the counter at home to enjoy small bites at a time. Sometimes this means the time between when the chocolate is made and when it is enjoyed can be many months apart. That’s ok – the chocolate should be tempered well and won’t spoil, however the flavors and the texture may diminish over time.

    Snacking chocolate, by comparison, is so FRESH! The flavor of the bean is distinct and present, the texture is smooth but still rustic, and the melt is delightful. By using less formal packaging, we can keep the price lower. And by packaging the chocolate in smaller quantities, you can purchase bundles and gift to many people in the office, at home, at a wedding or event.

    The snacking chocolate will delight the purist who wants just the flavor of chocolate. If this describes you, you are in luck! We are making chocolate in small batches so we can rotate the origin quickly. Yesterday we were serving Bolivia and Belize, and today it’s Tanzania. If you’re someone that wants to learn the difference in flavor by region, this is a perfect way. We can even show you how to keep good notes.

    Pairing the chocolate with dried fruits like strawberries and cherries - or with complimentary ingredients like toasted sesame or popped amaranth - is how we are putting our flavor expertise to good practice. If you were a fan of the rotating 400 flavors of truffle we crafted since 2006, you will love this new exploration of fine ingredients and flavors paired with craft chocolate.

    Our Broken Slab snacking chocolate is available online, or in our retail stores in Pioneer Square on or Capitol Hill.

  • An End to Intrigue's Ganache Line - Sun-Setting the Truffles

    Dear fans of Intrigue,

    Starting this month, we will no longer produce our hand-made ganache products – truffles, truffle bars, and truffle collections. What’s been made is all that remains. (Last available boxes can be purchased on our website and in our retail stores.)

    This is a significant change. It’s been published more than once: “A simple ganache is at the heart of Intrigue Chocolate”. Our flavored ganache products - a passion of Aaron’s and our medium for educating and delighting customers - is the foundational product of Intrigue. Aaron has crafted his ganache truffles for 18 years, first at home, then under the umbrella of Madres Kitchen and distributed with their lunch program, and then 13 years as a fully independent business. The team has crafted, hand-wrapped, and sold over 200,000 truffles! We’ve opened two locations with the ganache line as our anchor. Our chocolate has seen every continent of the globe, including Antarctica! It’s been gifted to mothers, fathers, lovers, wedding guests, celebrities, and even the richest man in the world. There are some children who have grown up with Intrigue Chocolate in the fridge every month.

    More about the truffles:

    The Intrigue of Aaron Barthel, Master of the Ephemeral Chocolate Truffle - Article by Dr. Chocolate, Kristie Lesslie

    Kickstarter Project for New Packaging - 2012

    We love this smooth ganache, full of expression and opportunity. We are so proud of our truffle’s history and its’ impact on the Seattle food scene. A dream was fulfilled. Now it’s time to dream anew.

    We’ve made this decision for a few reasons. The production space required to produce the truffles is being displaced (next to the viaduct, soon to be prime real estate). Hand-crafting each truffle, hand-wrapping them, hand-stickering them, hand-folding each box, hand-packing them, and then the retail effort required to lead sampling flights, introduce, and educate the customer can be exhausting and expensive.

     Aaron is feeling passionate about investing his time and attention in our newest creations. Please welcome our bean-to-chocolate product line:


    Broken Slab
    Craft chocolate made by Intrigue.
    Minimally processed, hand formed, and rough tempered.
    This is chocolate for snacking.
    *Vegan, no Soy, no Nuts, no Gluten

    Our “Broken Slab” are bite-sized craft-chocolate medallions or little broken slabs, and in true Intrigue fashion, made with inclusions like toasted sesame, cherries, candied ginger, popped amaranth, strawberries, etc. They are DELICIOUS, they are already selling out in our retail stores, and they are the future of Intrigue Chocolate Co. You can purchase Broken Slab Snacking Chocolate online now, as well.

    Intrigue will continue to produce our cocoa mixes and spiced chocolate bars. Syrups, sugars, and teas will continue in a limited capacity.

    We hope that you will give these new inclusion chocolates a try. We’ve found they have wide appeal. Either way, thank you for your support of Intrigue Chocolate Co, and for loving the ganache truffles and truffle bars as much as we do, and for being advocates of Intrigue!

    From the Chocolate Exhibit at MOHAI, 2014

    Best – Intrigue Chocolate / Aaron Barthel

  • 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).

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