Chocolate. Coffee. It’s a pairing with endless iterations, from dunked beans to humble mochas. But today we’re bringing you news of an exciting new collaboration between coffee and chocolate, one that stretches all the way back to a shared origin story in the hills of Guatemala.
Beginning today, November 27th, Blue Bottle Coffee and Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate are offering a limited edition pairing featuring coffee and chocolate grown in close proximity from Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Web sales for the pairing begins today as a beautiful box set, which includes a half-pound of whole bean coffee and a 2 oz. bar of 72% chocolate, both grown just 26 miles apart in a rugged and mountainous region of Guatemala.
Then next week, on December 4th, Blue Bottle will launch a coffee and chocolate retail pairing at all their cafes in the United States. For $5 guests can enjoy a 12-ounce pour-over cup of Blue Bottle’s Guatemala Alta Verapaz Santa Sofia, alongside a square of Dick Taylor’s Alta Verapaz chocolate. The same pairing will be offered at Blue Bottle’s Tokyo cafes in early 2016.
What’s remarkable about this project is not that it pairs coffee and chocolate; what’s remarkable is that it’s uniting two agricultural products grown together just miles apart, creating a pairing that echoes notions of terroir, sense of place, and mutual harmony. It’s a new step forward for an old combination—coffee and chocolate—in a move that echoes the progressive push towards quality happening side by side in both industries. Great chocolate is a scene that’s moving fast; collaborations like this one are part of what we (and many others) see as a major developing trend.
Dick Taylor Chocolate is credited with the idea: what if they could source a cocoa from one of the same regions as where Blue Bottle sourced coffee? Perhaps the two products could make a perfect pairing, and may even share flavor characteristics innate to their shared terroir.
But does coffee even grow near cacao? It can! Cacao grows low, and quality coffee grows high. Blue Bottle Green Coffee Buyer (and Sprudgie Award winner) Stephen Vick says it can happen without you even noticing it “Most of the areas around the equator where coffee (and cacao) grow are fairly rugged in terrain,” he tells us, “and you can easily so from sea level to 3000 meters and back down again in no time. You will see different crops that thrive at different elevations, and there is quite a bit of plant diversity in the tropics.” To figure out where to focus the project, Vick shared Blue Bottle’s internal “Green Coffee Map” with the team at Dick Taylor, who narrowed in on the region of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala as a strong contender.
Cacao is fairly new to this region, Vick tells us. “With climate change, certain areas that were once suitable for growing coffee are now far more suitable for growing cacao,” Vick says, “which requires a bit more heat and humidity and is less concerned with elevation for quality.” Dick Taylor had recently begun working directly with a cacao farm in Alta Verapaz called Finca Chimelb; just 26 miles away, Blue Bottle buys caturra and catimor coffees from Pablo Ferrigno and his farm, Santa Sofia, in the small community of Tactic. The result is a pairing of chocolate and coffee that shares similar earth, climate, and sky.
The parallels between coffee and chocolate are endless, including the deliciousness of their respective raw fruits. They’re also both “indulgent products, something a person reaches for when they want a warming, luxurious experience,” says Dick Taylor Chocolate co-founder, Dustin Taylor. And that’s a sentiment that plays back into the collaboration’s organic origin story.
“(Blue Bottle Founder) James Freeman was using our chocolate for s’mores with his family when he decided to reach out to us with an email,” Taylor tells us. “We were blown away to get an email from the founder of Blue Bottle, and so we quickly responded and set up a meeting in Oakland. After brainstorming with the Blue Bottle crew, we came up with the idea of pairing a single origin coffee and chocolate from the same region.” The crew’s visit to Alta Verapaz yielded delicious fruit—literally, because have you tried a coffee cherry or some raw cacao mucilage? They are both delicious, with the cacao fruit showing flavors like lychee and passion fruit.
“The fact that these raw ingredients were grown so close to each other at origin and are able to be enjoyed together in their final form is special to me,” says Vick. “For just five dollars you can taste two exquisitely grown and hand-crafted products side-by-side, which is a pretty awesome thing.”
The Blue Bottle Coffee / Dick Taylor collaboration box is available online beginning today. In-store sales of the pairing launches on December 4th, 2015, at Blue Bottle cafes in New York City, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, with service in Japan planned for early 2016.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge.com. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.
Blue Bottle Coffee is an advertising partner of Sprudge.com.