Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Seahorse is a craft chocolate maker based in Bend, Oregon.
It is led by a beautiful couple, Amanda and RC Gartrell. They started to produce chocolate in 2017. If you are asking yourself the meaning behind their chocolate business name, I can tell you it is a very funny story: the result of a “finding a name for the chocolate business” game. One day RC told Amanda, "the next word that comes out of your mouth, that’s the name of the company” and she thought the "Seahorse" was a pretty cool name. Thinking he was joking, she said "What about Seahorse Chocolate?" and RC said, "That`s it!", in a serious tone. The first bar they made was a batch of Madagascar Sambirano Valley which came to be a surprisingly good bar. Since then, they realized what to do next!
But what is the distinctive attribute of this maker and their bars?
The RC`s roasting coffee background! Yes, he had been active in the coffee world for years so he translated two decades of knowledge about coffee to the chocolate-making process. I have to admit they achieved a remarkable result in texture and flavor. They don`t add cocoa butter to their bars; "because simply using cocoa beans allows the roaster to highlight the inherent nuances buried in the seed! RC can tailor his roast to reveal unique aspects!".
The real challenge for them is"texture and viscosity". In fact, the tempering machine that works for most chocolate companies will not pick up their chocolate because it has a unique texture. They love to work with different cocoa varieties. Nigeria cacao origin has been the most radical variety to work with because "the explosion of coconut flavor was so intense people either loved it or hated it". Amanda's favorite bar, "on the planet", is Seahorse Honduras, Wampusirpi while RC loves the new Seahorse Trinidad, Gewan Gangaram.
In the picture below you can see the bars I tasted which are the Vietnam Ben Tree 70%, the Honduras Wampusirpi 70%, and the Fifi Rakiraki 75%.
As I mentioned before, just two ingredients: cocoa beans and organic sugar. They are also hand-poured so the smallest imperfections may add a unique architecture that will create its own signature to be remembered, I'm sure.
Vietnam Ben Tre 70%, Trinitario/Criollo Hybrid :
From the scents to the taste is absolutely my favorite. It literally stoled my heart.
It starts with a rich chocolate taste, then cinnamon graham crackers, dried fruits, and banana. All nuances lined up by the sweet and bit acidic blueberry flavor which is the part who amazed me the most.
Honduras Wampusirpi 70%:
The tasting show starts with a sweet toffee aroma, then it goes on with buttery brown sugar and earthy subtle notes.
Fiji Rakiraki 75%:
Rich, flavorful, and sundried Forastero Amelonado. Very aromatic chocolate flavors as fudge brownie, caramel, and apricot. It is not very bitter or astringent. Indeed the apricot and caramel fresh sugary taste creates a nice balance with the typical strong flavor of this cocoa origin.
One last thing about this rough time we are all going through, they told me:
"We have completely closed our retail space. RC is still in production. Obviously we are implementing very strict standards of hygiene and nobody is allowed into the roastery. Also disinfecting all products before they ship or drop to the grocery".
Their chocolate message to the world is:
"We are tiny, homespun, lacking fancy equipment and family-run but our chocolate rocks!"