In our latest installment of For The Love of Making Chocolate we’re thrilled to share our talk with Jean Thompson, Owner + CEO of Seattle Chocolate Company, about her brand’s indulgent creations. Their delicious chocolate bars and truffles are a delight for the senses not only for their rich flavor combos but for their gorgeously illustrated packaging as well.
In our interview we discovered how Seattle Chocolate Company sources inspiration for their chocolate flavors from their own personal travels and experiences. This brand truly believes in the power of chocolate as not only an indulgent treat but also a means of making a difference in our world.
Keep reading to discover more about Seattle Chocolate Company.
Can you discuss the history of Seattle Chocolate Company and how it has grown over the years?
Seattle Chocolate Company began in 1991, making chocolate truffles and truffle bars here in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. When the original factory was destroyed by the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001, I was an investor in the company, while raising my two children after a career in Marketing. I loved the brand, and soon began helping at the company – one thing led to another, and when Seattle Chocolate needed a new owner & CEO a year later, I took on the challenge. Since then, we’ve continued to grow and innovate, bringing in lots of color, flavor, and creativity. Our mission is to brighten your day, and chocolate is how we do that.
With Seattle as part of your namesake, how important is it for your brand to source ingredients locally?
We’re proud to be from Seattle, where so many amazing (and delicious!) things are grown and produced. We find so much inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, from ingredients to package design – you can see that clearly in flavors like San Juan Sea Salt and Pike Place Espresso. Whenever we can, we like to source locally; luckily for us there are some great options in Washington, like the coffee beans roasted less than a mile from our factory, or the mint grown in sunny Yakima.
Where do you find inspiration for your numerous chocolate flavors?
When we are in need of a new flavor, our whole team gets together and we have a big brainstorming session – it’s so fun! Often, the flavors we come up with are reminiscent of the things that our employees have experienced and loved. For example, one of our team members went on a trip to Mexico, and was given an orange that had been dipped in cayenne pepper powder. The flavor combination really stuck with them, so when they returned, we immediately tried creating the flavor in a white chocolate, and our Cayenne Veracruz Orange jcoco bar was born! Our research and development process is probably everyone’s favorite part of the job – definitely mine.
Giving back to the global community seems to be a big focus of your brand, can you discuss your efforts towards fighting hunger and sustaining the environment?
I truly believe that chocolate can make a big impact on the world. With that in mind, in 2012, I created the jcoco chocolate brand, which has a focus on feeding hungry families at its core. Since then, with each jcoco purchase, we donate fresh servings of food to those in need through partnerships with food banks in Washington, California and New York. With the help of our amazing customers, we’ve donated almost 4 million servings to date, and are well on our way to our big goal of 10 million!
We also have a commitment to cutting down waste wherever possible, from composting our chocolate scraps and selling imperfect factory seconds to working to switch our entire truffle line over to compostable packaging. Our new truffle twist wraps are made of cellulose, a principle structural material of plants, made from eucalyptus trees that are sustainably harvested from FSC managed forests. These truffle wraps are expected to compost in 6-8 weeks in a home compost pile. We love the idea of all those bright truffle wrappers filling compost bins and growing among our customer’s flowers!
How are Micelli molds integral to your final product?
We have two chocolate-making machines at Seattle Chocolate Company, one for our truffles and one for our chocolate bars. Both of these lines use custom-made Micelli molds. We order several sets of these custom molds in different colors, so that we can use a color-coded system for allergens. This process has made our products even safer for our customers. It’s so fun for guests to watch the molds go down the line during our chocolate factory tours!
What products in your line are you most excited for a person new to your chocolate to try?
Our most recent release is a revamp of an older flavor, Hiker’s Trail Mix, which is now called Double Chocolate Trail Mix. We updated the recipe for this bar so that the meltaway truffle center is milk chocolate and the outer shell is dark chocolate – best of both worlds! It also has peanuts, almonds and cranberries, which makes for a delicious blend of flavors. We know that the best part of trail mix is the chocolate, and we wanted to give our customers an easy and delicious alternative to traditional GORP.
We are also very excited about our recent artist collaboration with Libby VanderPloeg. Together, we created the “You’re My Hero” bar and a truffle bag that says “Better Together.” These were originally created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Then, COVID-19 struck, and we started seeing everyday acts of heroism and people coming together to support one another. Now, these sentiments feel even stronger than before.
If I had to pick a few everyday flavors for a new person to try, I’d also recommend the Mexican Hot Chocolate bar, our Blackberry Crème truffles, or our jcoco 80% dark chocolate bar – those are my current go-tos.
For The Love of Making Chocolate,
The Micelli Team