When Spinnaker Chocolate's Passion & Obsession Lead to a Mission

Chris and Kelly Van Arsdale, brothers and co-founders of Spinnaker Chocolate, started crafting chocolate at home as a hobby. They were giving out chocolate bars to friends and family, and everyone would say: "Maybe you guys should be selling these."

Many years and thousands of test batches later, their hobby has turned into an obsession. They took the plunge and moved their collected chocolate equipment out of their garage and into a real production space. When they moved up to Seattle from San Francisco, midway through the pandemic, they saw a retail space close to their house that was perfect and jumped at the opportunity. They decided to turn their obsession into a real business and launched in October of 2021.

When Dandelion Chocolate first started making chocolate, it came to Google (where Chris worked) and got to meet them. Pretty soon after, Chris bought a mini melanger to try making chocolate at home. Chris then enlisted Kelly's help when they needed to build machinery to make chocolate. One thing led to another, and before long, they would fill up the garage with chocolate equipment they collected from various places.

Self-taught chocolate makers, Chris and Kelly read and researched every piece of information they could about chocolate production, and then meticulously and scientifically tested everything they read. They designed their process to maximize the end experience flavor, aroma, smoothness, etc everything you would want in an amazing piece of chocolate.

As chocolate makers, they are devoted to using only the best ingredients. They spent years tinkering with systems to remove impurities in their cacao beans before production. They’ve also taken an intensely scientific approach to their entire production process. Their process is different from that of other chocolate makers in many ways, but the biggest distinction  aside from meticulously sorting their cacao —  is their dedication to roasting nibs instead of whole beans. Their sorting process is designed to remove any beans that might taste bad. They pick out beans that are moldy, too big, too small, over-fermented, under-fermented, and flat. They make sure to roast in a steamy environment which helps penetrate into the nibs and lead to a more pronounced flavor.

Spinnaker Chocolate also has a strong social mission. The ocean is near and dear to the company’s heart, so for every bar sold, 1% is donated toward cleaning up marine debris.

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