This is part 4 of 5 of an interview with Art Pollard. Be sure to start reading with Part 1. Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments. Art will be available to comment on anything you have to say.
Art will give away one of each of his bars to five random commenters - one winner per post. All winners will be drawn on Saturday morning, July 12. All comments are eligible up until the time the winners are posted. While you may leave multiple comments on a post, only one comment per person per post is eligible to win.
There are a total of three of us! That’s it! We all work immensely hard. It still makes for some rather long days.
I read on your site that your location of Salt Lake City helps in the chocolate production. Can you talk more about that?
There are two different issues. Utah is very dry and arid or at least our particular location is. That’s very important during several stages of the chocolate making process. The altitude means we have a lower vapor pressure so that affects which volatiles are escaping from the chocolate at various temperature points. Volatile oils and other chemicals such as ascetic acid are able to evaporate at a lower temperature just like water boils at a lower temperature than it does as sea level - it’s a similar sort of thing when you make chocolate. Of course, you’re not trying to boil it, but a similar process occurs both during roasting and conching as far as some of the different chemicals that will escape. You have to be pretty careful to make sure that you are allowing things to escape that are detrimental to the flavor of the chocolate and you are keeping the chemicals that you are trying to enhance.
Historically in the U.S., chocolate has been made in port cities. That has a lot to do with the fact that that is where the cocoa comes in from the other countries so it’s made it easy for them. But, I think that our altitude here makes the shipping well worthwhile and I think we are able to offer something that is a little bit different and would be more difficult for someone to replicate at sea level. Of course your port cities are also classically highly humid and that is going to affect things as well.
What has the process of marketing your chocolate been like?
Interesting. Initially, my thoughts were that if we came out with a superior product that we would make some waves and it wouldn’t be that long to see it on the store shelves. I was wrong.
We did release a superior product. As far as chocolate goes, I think we’ve been releasing fairly consistently chocolate that is some of the best in the world. A lot of people have recognized that and that’s truly satisfying and that’s the best thing in my opinion about doing what we are doing -really making something that makes people happy.
Getting on the store shelves turned out to be a whole other issue. That’s been a little more difficult than what we originally thought. We’ve gotten into a fair number of stores, but not where our initial projections hoped that we would be. I think a lot of stores have a really long turn around cycle from the time they are interested in you to the time that you actually show up. The various buyers have more things to do with their life than to worry about each individual product that they are trying to get in. They have families and they have to deal with their current product selection. A lot of times, your cycle to get into to a given store is a lot longer than your initial estimate.
Some of your smaller independent stores can make a decision and get you in in a week’s time, but other stores that have a bit more management or more formal processes can take six months or more. It’s all very interesting. Some stores can take upwards of a year.