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, we do the grinding and refining the old fashioned way. With rocks. Smoothed granite roller stones which shear the particles against a granite plate. This particular process takes up to three days 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.
What do you mean by "local"?
Our cacao has traveled thousands of hard miles. And so much has gone into these beans at the farms before they even boarded a ship. It doesn't make sense to travel hundreds or thousands miles more. These beans stop here. They are extremely special and they are here to be appreciated and enjoyed by YOU. What "local" means 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. 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?
It is entirely possible that social media is an effective form of communication. Getting it up and running often gets put on the to-do list. But because of a mysterious aversion to it, it gets back-burnered. And then, like an incessant Border Collie, circles back and nips at my heels. I am holding good intentions to at least get a rudimentary social media skeleton set up to accommodate those who can only converse in ether land. If it was all up to me though, communications would be like making chocolate; it would all be written on beautiful parchment with quill and ink and sealed with melted wax pressed with the family crest or some secret symbol. Hand delivered, of course.
So, where can I buy The Cocoa Forge's bars and products?
Online shopping AND here! The new walk-up window on the patio is open by appointment for now. And you can always swing by if you're in the neighborhood and ring the window bell. Most of the time I can come up front to help but if I'm in the middle of a roast or tempering I won't be able to break away. If you'd prefer a specific time, shoot me a text or email. Also, SHOP ONLINE ANYTIME and pickup here or get your order delivered right to your door!
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 there were only six places to live - all in cookie cut houses? But you knew in your heart there was more "out there" to all of this? That's right, you rebel. You'd get Out There. At THE COCOA FORGE, we shake it up; do it the hard way. Each batch is a "limited edition" (AKA, a new growth and learning opportunity). Because 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.) That said, it's not all reindeer games. Heirloom and fine-flavor cacao is in distinct trouble. It will be you who can save it by recognizing it and appreciating it.