PNW Business Spotlight: indi chocolate

Erin Andrews, founder and chocolate maker of indi chocolate, has been making chocolate since 2010.

Erin Andrews (Photo Credit: indi chocolate)

indi chocolate sources cacao beans directly from farmers and cooperatives to make small batch, single origin, dark chocolate (72% cacao content and higher). They make a wide range of cacao-based products made from cocoa butter. Have you ever wondered what cocoa butter is exactly? “Cocoa butter comes from the cocoa bean,” Erin said. “It is what we use in our body care, because it is amazing on the skin and cocoa butter is what gives the smooth and creamy texture in our chocolate.” There you have it!

indi chocolate works directly with cacao farmers around the world to provide them with a higher income. Cacao farmers at the country of origin grow cacao interspersed with hardwood trees, medicinal plants and crops that provide food for the families. Plants on their farms include plantains, corn, pineapple, guava, yucca and so much more. The biodiversity of the farms provide nutrient rich soil that contribute to the flavor of the cacao itself and provides a sustainable method of growing cacao.

(Photo Credit: indi chocolate)

What inspired Erin to open indi chocolate? One day, Erin’s daughters asked her where chocolate comes from so she took them on a trip to Belize to show them that cacao grows on trees (talk about an immersive education). From this trip, Erin fell in love with the world of chocolate and decided to go into business.

Naming the business after her oldest daughter and opening in Pike Place Market in 2013, Erin started indi chocolate by making amazing cocoa butter lotions. The “happiness in a bottle” (which I can attest to) is made with 9 ingredients, adhering to Erin’s philosophy of using only the fewest and best ingredients necessary. The lotion smells good enough to eat and the rich emollients absorb into the skin and does not leave a sticky or tacky feeling.

(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

Expanding her business from lotions to edible chocolate, she discovered her small batch chocolate machines were not robust enough and would often break down! She spent as much time fixing machines as she did making chocolate. The Chocolate Refiner has been updated specifically for chocolate making and is built to last, and what it produces is so rich and decadent, you want to keep coming back for more!

I recently hosted a Chocolate and Booze happy hour (paired with OOLA Distillery Smoked Whiskey) at indi chocolate, and my friends and I had the chance to talk to Erin and learn about all things chocolate! And I can say, Erin is incredibly passionate about her work, and we all loved her!

(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)
(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

We learned some really interesting things about chocolate during our tour!

  • The difference between a Chocolate Maker and a Chocolatier is that a Chocolate Maker makes chocolate from the cacao bean (roasts, winnows, refines, tempers, etc), and a Chocolatier makes confections from already made chocolate.
  • Cacao beans grow on trees, but not on the branches, they grow in pods on the trunks and other random parts of a tree!
  • Pods are predominantly the size of a football, but can range in size, with generally 10-15 cacao beans per pod (this also varies).
  • Companies often put so much vanilla and sugar in chocolate that the real chocolate flavors are masked and hiding. indi chocolate uses minimal ingredients to bring out the true flavor of the actual chocolate (i.e. the indi chocolate 85% dark chocolate bar is made from cacao, sugar and cacao butter – and that’s it!)
  • Cacao nibs come from cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from husks and broken into small pieces. Nibs are something most people don’t really know about or understand. They are great in smoothies and oatmeal and taste amazing. Nibs are the backbone of the indi chocolate infusion kits and their mixology class. When you infuse your favorite spirit, you get the added bonus of what Erin calls, drunken nibs. The longer a spirit is infused, the better it can taste!
(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

indi chocolate has a wide array of delicious products for both your skin and palate.

The chocolate body lotion, lip balm, and handmade soap are all made with simple ingredients and while they smell amazing, you won’t be tempted to eat them! Why is that, you ask? Erin uses cocoa butter in her lotions and while cocoa butter smells like chocolate, it doesn’t taste like chocolate (there isn’t any chocolate in the lotion). However, the smell of chocolate is said to release serotonin in your brain, which is pretty amazing and why many people smile after smelling indi chocolate’s body care! She also does not use sugar in her body care products, only ingredients that are great for the skin.

My chocolate bounty! (Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

She also sells single origin chocolate (may I again suggest the 85% dark chocolate bar?), chocolate tea, cacao infusion kits, infused marshmallows (try the mole’ marshmallows top of hot chocolate – you won’t regret it!), chocolate spice rubs, cacao nibs and beans, coffee, caramels and so much more!

Chocolate spice rubs (Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

indi chocolate also offers a variety of classes including a Mixology Class, Truffle Making, Chocolate Class for Youngsters and more! Click here for a full list.

If you live in Seattle or plan to visit Seattle, stop by indi chocolate at Pike Place Market for a decadent experience.

My friends and I with Erin after happy hour.

WHERE:
indi chocolate
Pike Place MarketFront
1901 Western Ave, Suite D
Seattle WA, 98101
Ph: (425) 243-2089

https://indichocolate.com/

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