When I hear Lauren Adler talk about the nuances of artisan chocolate, I think of someone describing a fine wine. She explains how all five senses are used to evaluate chocolate: the shininess and color (sight), the snap when breaking off a piece (sound), the texture and smoothness (touch), the aromas (smell), and of course, the flavor as it melts in your mouth (taste). You might hear her describe the cherry notes, earthy aromas, and the “finish” of a chocolate bar. And like wine, she recommends you save the sweeter chocolates for the end of a tasting.
Lauren started her company Chocolopolis last year to help others learn about artisan chocolate. I met her last summer when she was testing her chocolate tasting classes. Eric worked with her a number of years ago, and we jumped at the opportunity to taste test chocolate at her home together with mutual friends.
We learned about single-estate chocolate bars, where the chocolate in the bar comes from one estate, just like a single-vineyard wine. We also discovered vintage chocolate – I had no idea that you could obtain chocolate bars made from beans grown in just one particular harvest.
She has been hosting tasting events and selling fine chocolates through her web site for a year now. Since then, Lauren has been looking for the ideal space for her Chocolopolis retail business, where people can come to experience and learn about chocolate. She finally found a spot atop Queen Anne hill, right next to Bricco wine bar. Construction is nearly completed, and late this month she plans to open what she anticipates will become one of Seattle’s premiere chocolate shops.
Lauren has relationships with some of the finest chocolatiers in the world. Chocolopolis will sell over 200 different chocolates, including rare vintage chocolates that can’t be found anywhere else in Seattle, and coveted chocolate from producers like Amedei.
We got together with her last week and had the opportunity to try chocolate samples from one of the new chocolatiers in the U.S., Patric Chocolate. I recently read about this tiny chocolate producer on David Lebovitz’s blog, so I was excited to get a chance to try the 70% and 67% Madagascar bars. I honestly think these were among the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted! They were incredibly complex, and even Lauren, who clearly has tasted much more chocolate than I have, was amazed at how there was no bitter aftertaste, as there is with most dark chocolate.
Lauren talked with Patric founder Alan McClure last month. He was so interested to hear about Chocolopolis that he will be sending some of his autumn batch of chocolate to Lauren to sell in her store. He said that he hasn’t heard of anyone out there doing quite the same thing as her, with the educational aspect of her business. I will be among the first to purchase Patric Chocolate when it arrives! Lauren, maybe you need to start a newsletter to announce new arrivals!
Lauren doesn’t want Chocolopolis to be intimidating and hopes the store will appeal to Seattlites of all ages. During the grand opening in mid-July, she’ll have an entire week of events for both kids and adults to come celebrate and discover chocolate. Stay tuned to the Chocolopolis web site for details.
UPDATE 7/6: Chocolopolis is now open! For photos of the new store, check out our latest blog posting.
1527 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle