Artisan Chocolate Meets Artisan Coffee

Our coffee roaster, Michael is passionate about his artisan coffee the way we are passionate about artisan chocolate! Recently, we took an opportunity to watch him roast a batch of coffee. We greatly enjoyed the treat of seeing the craft behind the flavors firsthand.

We invite you to check out our peek into the world of artisan coffee!

2017 International Chocolate Salon Awards

Best Chocolatiers & Confections in America Awards

Drumroll…

We are honored to announce our selection as one of the International Chocolate Salon’s 2017 Best Chocolatiers and Confectioners in America. It is a chocolate award we can’t help getting excited about.

What is the International Chocolate Salon?

Founded in 2007 by TasteTV and TCB Cafe Publishing and Media, the International Chocolate Salon (ICS) is all about chocolate. Their nationwide artisan and premium chocolate events celebrate deliciousness across the country. (Be sure to check their website for any upcoming events in your area!) Demos, presentations, tasting, and juried chocolate awards are all part of each event.

Some Healthy Competition for Chocolate

In addition to events, the International Chocolate Salon holds annual contests for the best-of-the-best in chocolate and related confections. Awards categories include Chocolate, Caramel, Toffee, White Chocolate, Vegan Chocolate and Hot Chocolate & Drinking Chocolate, among others. (Yum!)

Regional and national panels of food and and media experts judge each category. Items are ranked based on flavor, texture, ingredients and a host of other qualities. Last year, we were honored with awards for our Minty Dark, Mayan Spice, and Midnight Truffle Sipping Chocolates.

Creo Chocolate Best Hot Cocoa chocolate awards

It’s been an exciting couple of years. However, that doesn’t mean it’s time to slow down! We look forward to continuing to refine and expand our contribution to the world of artisan chocolate. To all of our chocolate family across the world, thank you for your support!

What are nibs?

What are cacao nibs? It is a question we hear quite often! The simple answer is this: nibs are pure chocolate before it becomes chocolate. However, it’s not quite that simple. These delicious tidbits have an adventure behind them!

Our nibs begin their life inside cacao pods in Ecuador:

pre-nibs cacao pod on tree

Each pod is filled with rows of fruit-covered seeds.

fresh cut cacao pod

When the seeds are dried, the fruit oxidizes, turning from white to brown and hardens around the shells, helping develop the flavor of (guess what?!) the center of the seed, called the nib.

purple fermented beans

Here, our farmer, Samuel, is holding some partially-fermented seeds (also known as beans). At this stage, the shells are a pale brown, while the nib is a swirl of purple and darker brown. Earlier, these nibs were a vibrant purple. Despite the glamorous looks, we wouldn’t recommend tasting them when they’re this pretty color… It is not pleasant. Trust us. Stick to feasting with your eyes.

beans drying in the sun

dried beans cut open

After a closely-monitored period of fermentation and drying, the nibs fade to a nice chocolatey-brown. (see second picture above) The shells and nibs are now similar in color. Still in their thin shells, the nutty treasures are shipped to our shop in Portland.

cacao beans

In our chocolate factory, we carefully roast these beans (seeds), developing their chocolate flavor. You can always tell when the beans are roasting. The smell is divine chocolateyness!

After roasting, we crack them into pieces. (If you haven’t seen this happening in our shop, be sure to ask about it next time you visit.) Next, our winnower separates pieces of thin shell from pieces of nibs.

nibs into winnowing machine
Now the nibs are delicious nutty pieces, ready to eat! From here, they will either be ground down to make chocolate bars, used for brownie and cookie toppings, pressed to create cocoa powder and cocoa butter, or packaged for others to use. We also love to use them in smoothies, granola, ice cream, cereal, salads, and baked goods. Yummy!

Come make chocolate with us!

What’s better than eating chocolate? Making and eating chocolate! We invite you to join us for a hands-on delicious experience that just might forever change the way you see chocolate. It’s the Make-a-bar tour at our factory and café in NE Portland!

As we hope to inspire you with the story of chocolate, we are inspired by your creativity. This post is not complete without a shout out to our make-a-bar tour graduates! Thank you for bringing your creativity to Creo Chocolate, inspiring us, making us laugh, and becoming part of the great big Chocolate Story. We have had quite the potpourri of creative bar artists! We’d like to take a minute to share a few of our favorites:

 

How can you not smile back at this sweet coconut guy? Just look at that. He’s already blushing.

A few people “go for it all,” but this bar really impressed us… 6 tidy rows of tasty flavors! It held the record for most-segments-in-a-single-bar, until several months later, when this eccentric treat came along…

A cheerful gal came through our tour, heard about the previously mentioned bar, and made it her goal to beat the record. And here you have it! A chocolatemaker-verified 9-segment bar.

 

Although we like to periodically change up our flavor options, this next bar is definitely a step away from our “traditional” flavor choices! The artist behind this bar truly loved lavender. The chocolate is infused with lavender oil and sprinkled with dried lavender… without tasting it, we could tell by the smell that the flavor of this bar would definitely linger for a bit!

Finally, we managed to snap a picture of this elegant bar just as it entered its package. A colorful dusting of spices accented a row of dried fruits. We love the style!

 

Some of our artists’ most creative flavor names include:

BERRY BERRY HOT!! (By John)

Cacao ~ If you dare! (By Glenda)

Cinnamon Nightmare (By Jan)

Jazzy Razzy (By Madison)

Too Good To Live (By Ross)

Spicy Miss (By Loretta)

SUNSHINE (By Dani)

Warren’s Mess (By Warren)

Wombo Combo (By Cody)
 
What will your flavor look and taste like? Sign up for your time slot at: http://creochocolate.com/classes/. We look forward to meeting you in the chocolate adventure!

Bringing home a Good Food Award in 2017!

Since 2012, Oregon has made a name for itself in the Good Food Awards, with numerous winners across all fourteen GFA food categories. Potential awardees are nominated through blind tasting followed by an extensive vetting process. With our foodie scene in Portland, it is certainly no surprise to see many familiar faces at the awards ceremony!

This year, we are honored to represent Oregon’s chocolate, bringing home the medal for our 73% Minty Dark bar. We are particularly excited about this bar, not only because we love the flavor, but because our mint is local, grown on a farm in Yakima, Washington. If you haven’t tried our Minty Dark bar, we would humbly suggest you at least give it a taste. We’re pretty confident you won’t be disappointed!

Jeremy, our truffle maker at Batch PDX, took home confection awards for both his Candy Cap Mushroom Truffle and Ghost Pepper Truffle. Yes, we know that these flavors might sound a little scary. And yes, they are unique… but only in the most delicious way. Many a skeptic has become a raving fan after building the courage to taste these little bites of heaven. We encourage you to try them for yourself next time you visit our cafe.

Thank you, friends, family and fellow foodies for being a part of this exciting journey!

The Creo Chocolate Factory is turning 2!

January 28, 2015

We can hardly believe it… Today marks two years since we opened the doors of our factory and café on NE Broadway Street in Portland!

We started with a few products that we had poured our heart and soul into creating, excited and hopeful for what our shop might grow into. We knew the road ahead would be long and challenging, but we also knew we had come a long ways already. Only a few years before, we had been raspberry farmers experimenting with cacao beans in our kitchen, sharing our creations with neighbors and friends. The creativity developed into drink recipes, baked goods and chocolate bar development. With that farmer’s dirt in our blood, we sought out cacao farmers to source our beans from.

Within a few years, our family’s passion for chocolate had grown into something far more than a hobby…

Janet and Kevin in Ecuador learning about cacao first-hand

Chocolate factory and café construction in 2014

After many months of planning, testing and building, we found ourselves standing at the threshold of a new life adventure in chocolate!

Looking back over two years, we have so much to be thankful for. Our humble home-made test chocolate bars have grown into a repertoire of award-winning handcrafted chocolate goodness. Our excursions into discovering chocolate have become an avenue to educate our community through tours and classes. However, none of what we have today would be possible without the help of family, friends, and our community. Truly, we have been blessed.

This week (January 28 – Feb 4) we invite you to celebrate with us in the shop. Come in and wish us “Happy Birthday!” and we will share with you a complimentary 2nd Anniversary truffle. We look forward to seeing you!

Good Food Award 2016 Finalist

Good Food Awards Finalist Seal 2016

The Good Food Awards did a news release Nov. 4, announcing the finalists for the 2016 Good Food Awards. Creo Chocolate’s Purely Dark 73% is one of the finalists. In January they will announce the winners.

There was a blind taste testing with industry leaders and an extensive vetting process.

The Good Food Award is an organization highlighting American food producers who excel in craftsmanship and sustainability.

We are humbly honored to have been chosen.

Chocolate for Change

Give back page Chocolate for Change is changing for the better.  After listening to the people in our community describing needs, we have decided to remove the limit of $1 per bar and one impact partner at a time.  We are changing to include multi Community Impact Partners at a time.

Creo is committed to be a catalyst for our Community Impact Partners who make Real Change in our world.   

By purchasing Creo Chocolate you help provide catalyst to make Real Change in the world

Raising the bar together.

Tim, Janet & Kevin

Creating,  Real Chocolate – Real Relationships – Real Change

 

There is a face on my chocolate

The smooth, warm feel of chocolate melting in my mouth overwhelms my memory of our visit to Ecuador. The warm sun felt wonderful to this Pacific Northwest girl, but the hospitality of the people I met continues to warm my heart long after I returned home.

We went to Ecuador looking for a flavor cacao bean to make our chocolate with. I hoped we would also find farmers to buy directly from and we did! Having been raspberry farmers for 17 years, our heart was still in the “dirt” which drove us to pursue a heart connection with our farmer.

Surrounded by cacao trees in my view, in Anna’s kitchen we roasted and tasted beans like she does with each fermentation batch. I appreciate how she knows her beans and actually makes chocolate from them. She sincerely takes pride in growing and selling quality. This is what I wanted to bring home to share with my community.

Being with Samuel and Anna on their farm and in their home left me with a warm connection to a face on my chocolate.

 

Chocolate Summer Drinks

Did someone say iced chocolate?

It’s time to bring out cold glasses of iced chocolate drinks!

Introducing four special drinks made with our heirloom Arriba Nacional cacao beans from Ecuador.

The Portland Chocolate Fizz  – you can have it rain or shine!

Rain is made with seltzer water and our chocolate = dark clouds with bubbles

Shine is seltzer water and chocolate with a splash of milk that creates a lovely sunshiny foaminess on top of the dark chocolatey clouds.

Our signature Brewed Chocolate can be enjoyed hot or iced and dark or sweetened with our own sweet vanilla syrup.

The Dancing Ca’Cow is a delightful swirl of Brewed Chocolate, cream and our sweet syrup.

Doing happy dance moooves!

In celebration of Mother’s Day, May 7, 8, 9th

Treat your mom to something special because, well you know, she’s pretty special!

Buy one iced drink and get another one as our gift because, well you know, we think you’re pretty special too!