We had the opportunity to sit down with some of the ladies of indi chocolate and learn all about what it takes to make chocolate in Seattle!
What is the story of indi chocolate and its Maker?
Erin Andrews is the genius behind all the delectable chocolate that comes out of this Pike Place Market chocolate shop. When she opened indi chocolate four years ago she was one of the only women in the industry who was making her own chocolate from bean to bar. In those four years a lot has happened: expanded offerings, a Marketfront Expansion project, and a lot of growth within the community.
Erin's experience in the chocolate business started with a business venture prior to indi chocolate with a bean - bar chocolate operation run out of Belize. She was visiting Belize with her family for vacation and her daughters had been curious about where chocolate came from so they included a tour of a local cacao farm. This ended up leading to Erin partnering with some local businessmen to start a new chocolate company. After a couple years doing this she decided to sell her share in the company and open up her own shop in Seattle. And so indi chocolate was born.
In the beginning indi chocolate was not the robust store they are now. Erin started out selling her chocolate cocoa butter lotion at a small pop-up shop. This allowed her to raise money for the storefront in Pike Place Market and to buy the pricey machines you need in order to make chocolate.
So why the name indi chocolate?
It pays tribute to two things. Erin’s oldest daughter is named India and because of her curiosity before that trip to Belize Erin has been making chocolate ever since. Secondly, it recognizes the nature of the business. It is an independently owned and operated small batch chocolate shop.
What kind of an operation do you have here?
indi chocolate is direct trade and gluten, soy, and dairy free. Most of the chocolate has three simple ingredients to make sure the taste of the bean is front and center. indi chocolate is one of the only bean-to-bar operations in Seattle.
All the beans are roasted in the shop, which is why it smells so heavenly. They roast about 10 pounds of beans per day and from there the beans are put into the chocolate maker. Once the beans are in the machine it takes about 3 days of refining to create the chocolate that you buy.
They also create the lotions and lip balms you see in the shop with cocoa butter and partner with other small business owners for various other products. These partnerships have produced things like the Chocolate Chai Tea from Market Spice and cacao based spice rubs. Other products you can find out in the wild include Old Stove's cacao nib infused beer or Shug's ice cream topped with cacao nibs.
Where do you get your beans?
A big mission of indi chocolate is only sourcing beans from farms Erin and her team have visited to ensure good working conditions and high quality operations. At the moment they have beans from Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Ghana, Vietnam, and Panama.
What are some staff favorites in the shop?
It's always hard to pick one thing you like above all others, but it seems the Mole spice rub and cacao nibs are the two favorites for their diversity in use.
Becca, the Marketing Director at indi chocolate is also the resident chef. She has a long list of recipes that frequently include both of these products. Every recipe will make your mouth water and there is a huge variety. Who knew you could add chocolate to so much?!
Fun fact: Cacao nibs have one of the highest sources of antioxidants in any food on earth.
What is in the future for indi chocolate?
indi chocolate is set to open their new space in the Marketfront Expansion building by summer 2017. This will be a much larger space which will include a café and chocolate factory, along with their retail space. The chocolate factory is what everyone is buzzing about, which will have large glass windows and a completely transparent display of the chocolate-making process from beginning to end!
They will also have a place in the new store to host classes on mixology, chocolate making, and tasting classes.
What are some of your favorite places in town to visit for chocolate?
Intrigue Chocolate in Pioneer Square is wonderful and the new Fran's shop in Georgetown is a beautiful experience, with a window where you can watch them creating the chocolates.
Correction: We originally stated indi chocolate and Theo Chocolate were the only bean-to-bar chocolate shops in Seattle. There are in fact, two more: Fresco Chocolate, and Bellflower Chocolate Co.