What is "The Cocoa Forge"?
Local, artisan, stone-ground, micro-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate crafted of and specializing in heirloom and fine-flavor cacao varietals.
Indeed it truly is. Transforming the old Town Forge Blacksmith shop into a WSDA licensed food production facility has been a long and interesting journey. Tipping our hat to the former blacksmith artisans of the Town Forge, we completely renovated and restored our humble and hard-working seaport bunker-of-a-building into THE COCOA FORGE. Originally, the building was purposed to be a cold storage keg room and it's thick concrete walls are perfect for chocolate. It is just so danged COOL. Literally. And extremely convenient since The Ceiba will be sailing our beans up from points South. We are located at the water's edge and the edge of Water (St.), steps from the NW Maritime Center. Sneakily and unpretentiously set back from the street and gracefully escaping the gaze of those not on a craft chocolate mission.
What do you mean by "Craft"? "Stone-ground"? Bean-to-Bar"?
Every single part of the process of creating chocolate from cacao seeds is done purposefully and methodically. Each step is babysat and fussed over. Each origin behaves differently. The art is to try to bring out and showcase the lovely characteristics and personality of the origin. They are all so unique! Genetics, terroir, weather, farming practices, post harvest practices -- all of it matters -- all has to be taken into consideration before and during each step of the chocolate making process: testing, sorting, roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, refining, conching, tempering, molding, packaging. BTW, the grinding and refining is done the old fashioned way. With rocks. Smoothed granite roller stones which shear the particles against a granite bottom plate - a process that can take up to five days, depending on several variables, to get the particle size down to where we want it at about twenty microns. Talk about the ultimate "slow food". One batch, start to finish, takes about eight days. Seven, if it all goes like dominoes. Okay, real world (and not wishful thinking); its more like 2 weeks.
What do you mean by "local"?
So much effort and care has gone into these beans at the farms and post-harvest cooperatives before they even board a ship. Then our cacao travels many thousands of hard miles to reach us. These beans stop here. They are extremely special and they are here to be appreciated and enjoyed by YOU.
What "local" means to me is; if you want to know exactly where your food comes from, you should be able ask! Any question you have about the food, the process, the packaging, and the craft - it's all fair game. And with this nifty location you can walk, bike, paddle, take a ferry, drive, or sail in.
Do you do tours?
No. This is a WSDA licensed food processing facility. Guests are welcomed to the walk-up window and patio tent.
Why don't you have social media?
If it was all up to me, communications would be like making chocolate; every correspondence would be deliberate and purposefully written. Maybe even on beautiful parchment with quill and ink with a melted wax seal pressed with the family crest of some other cool symbol. Hand delivered of course. Or better yet, how about horse and mail-carrier rider?
It is entirely possible that social media is an effective form of communication. I don't know why I don't like it but it is a pretty severe aversion. My niece hosts a Friends of The Cocoa Forge instagram that people seem to enjoy and she enjoys doing it. But I worry about it.
The social media conundrum is like an incessant Border Collie that keeps circling back and nipping at my heels to join the modern age. Meh. Probably not going to happen. When the Border Collie tries to corral me I just unleash my inner Husky.
Ok, so then, how will you interface with your customers?
Ahhh so glad you asked! Human interaction! I mean, the niche tribe of curious craft chocolate adventurers and thrill-seekers will have millions of questions! Besides signing up for the newsletter and the plethora of information on my website you can always time your online order pickup for Saturday (local pickups at the factory also can be scheduled during the week but on Saturdays I leave time to be able to chat and interact and sample the chocolate in whatever stage it happens to be in - anywhere from a whole roasted bean to warm liquid chocolate and tempered chocolate). It's a good time to learn and ask questions. Also, in the future I hope to host traditional, rustic, hands-on South American/Mesoamerican bean-to-beverage preparation and ceremony, weather permitting, on the patio.
So, where can I buy The Cocoa Forge's bars and products?
Right here at The Cocoa Forge online store! Choose local pickup here at the factory, local PT bicycle delivery or USPS priority shipping at checkout. Please consult the hours section of the website for current pickup times. For local pickup, come to the walk-up window and tasting tent which is located on the SW patio. Ring the bell at the walk-up window and I'll be with you in a jiffy. Unless I am tempering. Or roasting. Then I might take two jiffy's but it'll be PDQ. AND! For a continuous flow of Cocoa Forge Chocolate shipped to you every month, check out The Chocolate Faucet monthly subscription!
Watch for event dates on the newsletter too!
What can be expected?
Craft chocolate is off the leash. Expect the unexpected. We are not the company who makes six different bars, each the same forevermore. The whole point is diversity. What if there were only six different models of cars? And they all looked alike? (oh wait, they already do). Or what if there were only six breeds of dogs? What if the only place to live was a pre-planned cookie-cutter subdivision and you had to pick between six different models? What if you wanted something unique and interesting and creative? I know you a little bit if you're still reading this and still interested in The Cocoa Forge. You'd say "nope". Life should be more interesting than that.
Each batch of Cocoa Forge chocolate is a "limited edition" (AKA, a new growth and learning opportunity). There are discoveries to be had! All the time! Every day! Part of the fun is exploring the different characteristics and nuances of the genetics and origins. And sourcing these special varietals is a never ending quest to find and bring back the holy grail(s) of cacao; a seriously complex and continuously moving target. (Hint: there is no holy-cacao grail but it's fun to keep looking.) (Plus it's just fun to say "holy-cacao"). That said, it's not all reindeer games. Heirloom and fine-flavor cacaos are in distinct trouble. It will be you who can save it by recognizing them and appreciating them.