RC and Amanda Gartrell, creating Seahorse Chocolate with color, music and chocolate

A single-origin cocoa roaster located in Bend, Oregon, Seahorse Chocolate's philosophy is simple: work closely with farmers, tailor roast each small batch to reveal hidden nuances and hand-wrap distinct varietals. 

R.C. and Amanda Gartrell of Seahorse Chocolate didn’t start out as chocolate makers initially. They were in the coffee business for years. R.C. started out roasting in Portland and was Stumptown Coffee’s original roaster. After years of sourcing, coffee judging and coffee shops, they decided to take R.C.’s roasting knowledge and translate it to cocoa. 

Back then, many bean-to-bar companies were not roasting beans themselves and not tailoring the roast to each origin, treating each varietal as an individual. So the couple set out to educate and fill a niche. Amanda has a history with wine, and combining both hers and R.C.'s knowledge led to the birth of Seahorse Chocolate. Cocoa, like wine and coffee, contains layered flavors which vary greatly depending on the region, soil, altitude, farmer and preparation. Roasting for each varietal requires meticulous skill in order to reveal each one's unique aspects. The Gartrell's goal is to inspire appreciation for single-origin cocoa.

When Seahorse decided to update their packaging this past year they realized there was so much opportunity to connect back to the values and passions the people in their company have. Through the design’s look and feel, they wanted to hint at some of those things and help nod to what Seahorse is all about.

“As we began to tweak the design, one theme that kept coming up was our love of music. You see, we haven’t always been chocolate roasters. Many of us have lived the life of couch-surfing touring musicians. Playing in bands as guitarist, drummers and singers. To say we’re audio-files is an understatement--music is as much a part of our lives as chocolate, water, or sunshine. So we asked ourselves, how can we share our appreciation for music with our customers without being kitschy or over the top… the result was simple and clever, if not obvious: color. 

If you haven’t noticed already, each of our chocolate bars has a unique color--Red, Blue, Pink, etc. However, these aren't just color for color’s sake, and they aren't just any color. We chose these colors because they are the tones, hues, and shades of some of our favorite guitars. Our Honduras chocolate uses Fender’s Cadillac Pink, the Trinidad is a nod to Gibson’s Firebird Blue, and our Vietnam Ben Tre boasts a seafoam green we’ve seen on Fender’s famous Telecaster. 

Something that caught our attention as we dove into the history behind the color of these famous guitars we are so fond of, was that many of those colors were actually directly copied from some of the guitar maker’s favorite cars: Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Buick… Isn’t that wild? The colors we drew inspiration from by way of many of our favorite guitars were many of the same colors the guitar makers we admired were fond of from car makers from which they drew their inspiration. It’s funny how things play out sometimes, but good to remember: just because it’s not original doesn’t make it any less special. 

We hope as you enjoy the chocolate we’ve worked hard to source, roast, winnow and conche, you’ll find some inspiration and pass it along to someone you love.” ~Cheers~ R.C., Amanda, Ian, and the rest of the Seahorse Chocolate Team

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