Remember Augustus Gloop? The greedy kid with an obsession for chocolate from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who, against forewarned cautions, gorges on and falls into a flowing river of chocolate? That's me. That's me thinking about the forthcoming Joe Chocolate Co. which will open in the former Local Color cafe in Pike Place Market next month (May 15, if all goes to plan).
Cofounder Sam Tanner describes the new storefront in detail. Alas, no chocolate river. There will be—should anyone be concerned about the severe lack of reclaimed wood in this town (this is a Seattle joke)—salvaged cedar tables and round-cut trunks as seating, though the space is a bit more production-oriented than sweeping lounge zone. Other style elements are likewise simple, like metal, cement floors, and bright, white walls. That's the whole point, says Tanner. Its outdoorsy-inspired design nods to the company's origin story: coffee-imbued dark chocolate to help fuel Tanner and fellow founder Peter Keckemet's through-hiker friends.
The University of Washington alumni's cacao concept may seem simple—chocolate bark with a caffeine buzz courtesy Lighthouse Roasters plus such additions as salted caramel, coconut, and honey-almond—but the new cafe-slash-chocolate-factory is anything but. The south wall will house the manufacturing bit, where a chocolatier will tend to the massive tempering tank, a huge melting pot, and bark add-ins. Much like the Beecher's model (Kurt Dammeier is an investor) cafegoers and passersby alike can see the whole process; Joe Chocolate leans wholeheartedly into Pike Place Market's "meet the producer" motto. "We felt like it'd be kind of fun if Pike Place was the second place that people really thought about chocolate when they come to Seattle," says Tanner, what with Indi Chocolate down in the MarketFront.
The opposite corner will serve the goods, like "very traditional Italian-style espresso," affogatos, and real-deal mochas made with chocolate piped directly from said tanks to the espresso backbar, says Tanner, "so kind of verging on the crosshairs between a mocha and a sipping chocolate, something that's just decadent and rich." And in time for summer, Joe Chocolate has teamed up with Whidbey Island Ice Cream on custom ice cream sandwiches made from scratch on site. Freshly baked cookies include oatmeal, snickerdoodle, brownie, and chocolate. Whidbey Island is currently working on four unique ice cream cores for said sandwiches that, when assembled, with take a half-dunk into, duh, chocolate.
Beyond coffee, coffee-chocolate, and sweet frozen treats, Joe Chocolate will also have local beers, wines, and, naturally, Rainiers. "We're working on a few slushies," he adds. "We're hoping to be able to launch with a cold brew slushy."
Why, that sounds incredibly lovely. Speaking of the launch, they're hopeful that May 15 is the opening date. Stay tuned to the Joe Chocolate Co. Instagram for up-to-the-minute announcements.