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. We do not ship. We do believe in local deliveries though! Orders over $50 are eligible for free weekend delivery via bicycle/scooter. 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.
Why don't you have a retail shop here at The Cocoa Forge?
The way the building is set up in conjunction with the WSDA food processor licensing, we literally had to choose between human beans (ha) or cocoa beans being in the building. The cocoa beans won.
Do you do tours?
No. With our WSDA licensing, we are not able to bring in large groups. However, we can take appointments for individuals and custom-batch clients who are asked to go through our sanitation entry process.
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.
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! On Saturday afternoons from 1-4pm, the patio will be opened up for Samplings, Chocolate Musings and Order Pickups. Come talk about all things chocolate! Learn about and discuss origins that just came down the pike and chat about and anticipate the origins and recipes going into the hopper for the next week. Fun! For a more in-depth experience, you can book a private or group traditional, rustic, hands-on South American/Mesoamerica bean-to-beverage preparation and ceremony. Weather permitting, these take place on the patio, under the stars. Pricing is based on the number of participants and selected additional accoutrements.
So, where can I buy The Cocoa Forge's bars and products?
Remember, there is no official "retail" space at The Cocoa Forge (it's a working mini-factory). This is why we'll open up the patio on the weekends - so we can actually talk to people. It's not the perfect solution, but it'll do for now until we can evolve into a retail space. ORDER ONLINE and pickup your order on Saturday afternoons or for local orders over $50 you can choose free delivery. You can also swing by the factory during the week to pick up orders - just step inside and YOOOHOO - we'll assist you as soon as possible. Unless we are tempering. Then you might want to come back later. Because we'll be up to elbows in chocolate and possibly cranky.
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.