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!

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!

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!

Newest Addition – Dark Toasted Coconut

Announcing the birth of our newest Creo family member IMG_20150219_165459153 (1)

Lovingly wrapped for all to admire on February 18, 2015

Weighing in at over 50 grams

73% dark with toasty highlights

We call it – Dark Toasted Coconut and it’s a keeper!

Come in for a sample and get to know our baby.

There is a family resemblance , we are keeping it dark!

 

For those interested, here’s the birth story.

We have been working on the coconut chocolate bar for a long time.  We have been experimenting with numerous different types of coconut and different ways to incorporate  it in the bar.  Now we understand a bit of Thomas Edison’s frustration when he was searching for the right light bulb filament.  Nothing worked for us until we found this:

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100% organic coconut chips from Sri Lanka.  No sugar added (not needed).

It was love at first sight and taste.

The smell, the taste, the feel and the look.  What more could we ask for.  Finally, the right  coconut.  Next step, into the oven for toasting.

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This coconut even gets better with toasting.  What do you think? Smell it, then taste.

 

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Then the chocolate was put into a mold and a liberal amount  (as much as we can safely put in)  of coconut was added.  The coconut goes deep into the dark chocolate.

 

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Now to put into the packaging.  Thanks for asking about the packaging, yes, this packaging is 100% compostable  wood fiber even though it looks like plastic. I am truly amazed about clear wood fiber.

It can be challenging to put the bar with this much coconut into the package, but we work hard at it.

The last step is to put on the paper jacket which helps you understand some of the Creo story while allowing you to look through the window at the bar.  It is like looking through the window and seeing a master piece.

We have gone a bit nuts (coconuts) over this creation but we believe you are worth the extra time and energy to make this.

This has been a happy ending to all the research and development to make this bar come to life.

I would enjoy hearing what you think about this new addition to our Creo family.

Off to solve the next problem.

Tim