“This is not chocolate.”
A new sweet is now available from the folks at 1000 Faces and Condor Chocolates out of Athens, Georgia and it has five times the caffeine as a cup of coffee. It's a new kind of candy bar–using roasted coffee in place of cacao—creating a lightly sweetened chocolate-like confection. The bar dropped in early November, a limited-run of 1,000 bars and had its second run over the holidays. The coffee bar's packaging uses the colorful work of Athens artist Shannon DeLawn Lane. We spoke with Julianne Bierwirth of 1000 Faces to find out more about the design and the product itself.
Tell us a bit about 1000 Faces and Condor Chocolates!
1000 Faces is a small coffee roaster in Athens, GA opened with the mission of building a stronger community surrounding coffee. We were founded about 12 years ago on the principle of cultivating personal relationships with our farmers and honoring their work. As an example, the Don Francisco Coffee Bar was named for the farmer in Nicaragua who provided the beans we used. We find value in sustainability—both of the human infrastructure that supports the coffee industry and the consumables that surround it. In our Athens coffee shop we use compostable hot cups, lids, sleeves, and retail bags and encourage our patrons to compost their grounds and buy well-made reusables whenever possible.
Condor Chocolates is a bean-to-bar chocolatier in Athens founded about four ago by the Dale brothers, Nick and Peter. Their Ecuadorian-American heritage has strongly influenced their culinary style in other Dale-owned Athens restaurants, however, Condor is probably the strongest connection to their roots. They source their cacao exclusively from Ecuador and travel there frequently to visit family and work with farmers.
Our shared concern for forging relationships and crafting thoughtfully made foods has made our partnership and vision for this project rather easy to pull off.
When did y'all get together to collaborate on this project?
I contacted Nick in February of 2018 with the idea that we could make a confection out of coffee, cocoa butter, and sugar. He seemed on board with it and I dropped off a bag of our Koko Buni blend for a test. Koko Buni is a blend we develop every year for Creature Comforts Brewery as part of their chocolate, coffee, and coconut milk porter. Condor contributes cocoa nibs for the project, so we thought that would be a great place to start.
You talk about “highlighting the flavors of the grounds instead of the aqueous extract”—can you tell us more about that?
When we tried Koko Buni we found that it worked functionally as a product but had a long way to go for great flavor. It tasted over-extracted—not at all like the coffee tastes when we brew it. Our coffee, like most, is roasted so the dissolved solids that travel into our water during extraction are well balanced and pleasing. What is left in the grounds after making a cup of coffee isn't desirable, otherwise we would keep extracting it. It makes sense then that in eating the beans we were getting all of the tasty components of a great cup of coffee, but we were overwhelming them with all of the undesirable components of the residual grounds. By logic, we needed to roast the beans so that it would taste dramatically under-extracted in a cup, but the flavor of the whole bean would be well balanced.
…wait, how much caffeine is in it?
Before launching we got the caffeine tested. The bar has 464 mg of caffeine—equivalent to about five cups of black coffee.
Who designed the package?
Condor Chocolates designed the package with the help of commercial printers at the Georgian Press.
Tell us more about Shannon DeLawn Lane!
Shannon DeLawn Lane is a local Athens painter who describes her work as an escapist style of color therapy. She wanted to create a pattern without beginning or end so that the viewer could get lost in the image. She bases her colors on real-life images but breaks it down until it is unrecognizable except for the palette.
What information do you share on the package?
We found it important to clarify that this is not chocolate. We were all afraid from the start that the similar shape and look to the packaging would cause somebody to buy the bar thinking it was chocolate and eat the whole thing. The marketing and back of the package both try to make very clear that the product is actually made of coffee and highly caffeinated. The rest of the package is really dedicated to giving consumers some details about our partnership, the farmer that produced the coffee, the artist that designed the package, as well as more standard elements like flavor notes, ingredients, expiration date, and net weight.
Is the package recyclable/compostable?
The exterior paper cover is recyclable, but the interior food grade plastic wrapper regrettably is not.
Where is it currently available?
The bar can be purchased online at condorchocolates.com/shop, at our respective brick-and-mortar stores in Athens, and at some of our business accounts around the country.
Location: Athens, GA
Release Date: November, 2018
Art Design: Shannon DeLawn Lane
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.