Portland is one of the major launch pad markets for Choffy, a new coffee alternative made from roasted cacao beans. I sat down with the co-founder Jason Sherwood to find out what exactly Choffy is and how Portland fits into its equation.
How did Choffy get its start? (and what's your role in the company)
Our company started based off of a dream and a passion to help people live healthier lives. We started in a kitchen in Henderson, NV, roasting on cookie sheets and grinding in small food processors. We eventually graduated to roasting Choffy on our bar-b-ques (even after the fateful day when the shed burned down), and now using industrial roasters and a custom grinder we developed.
I am the co-founder and Executive Creative Director of Choffy. Since we are small, we all wear a lot of hats, but my primary responsibility is our brand, marketing, and support to our distributor services.
What exactly is in Choffy and what are the different varieties?
Choffy is Brewed Chocolate or in other words, it is 100% Cacao, that is roasted and then ground. It is a product that brews like coffee in all of it's different formats, but provides a new and unique flavor. We currently have two varieties. We work directly with growers in Ecuador, and the Ivory Coast. Our Ecuadorian Choffy is the most Chocolaty and according to some the lightest. Ivory Coast has a deep cocoa flavor with a hint of earthiness. We are always working on new varieties from other single cacão estates around the world, and showcase them at various times of the year.
How does Choffy differ from 'Hot Chocolate"?
Most notably Choffy is not an instant drink like hot chocolate. We use a minimally invasive processes during production to ensure that our customers are drinking the purest form of brewed cacao. As a result Choffy retains a lot more of the compounds that are naturally occurring in cacao. The roasting and brewing process is what gives Choffy its distinct robust flavor. Since Choffy does not contain any sugar or instant creme like most hot chocolates. Though like coffee, many people add things (like creamers) to their Choffy to give it their own personalized taste.
So I'm drinking chocolate, how many calories is in it?
Remember, your are drinking only the very essence of what chocolate is made from, so you are going to have a drink that is extremely low in calories. There are only 20 calories in 8 oz. of brewed Choffy. 0 sugar, 0 fat, and 3 grams of carbs.
What's been the biggest challenge so far for Choffy?
I think that the biggest challenge as been launching a company in this tough economy. People are worried about money. They are not buying as much as they once were, and that has made it a little more difficult than we originally anticipated. Choffy is a unique product. It has its very own properties. No caffeine like coffee, but no sugar and fat like traditional chocolate. People are often interested in how it tastes. Once people try Choffy, they realize that this is a great tasting product with great health benefits, and we hope we have gained another fan.
Is Choffy based in Portland?
Although we started in a little kitchen in Henderson, NV, we quickly realized that the northwest and more specifically Portland was the place to be. We love being in the Portland area, and the opportunities that it brings to share this product with others. Technically our location is in Vancouver, WA. But we consider ourselves a part of the larger Portland community. It is a community that loves brewed drinks, they care about healthy, organic foods, and want to make the world a little better each day.
How does Choffy compare to coffee?
Well, It does brew like coffee, and some might say that the taste is somewhat similar, but that is about as far as it goes. Choffy tends to be less bitter than coffee and the flavor profiles are different. The health benefits are quite different as well.
Is there anything in Coffee that's bad for people? Is there anything in Choffy that's good for them?
If you are asking if coffee is bad for you, I would say that is a sticky question for people in the Northwest, but actually yes, there are elements of coffee that are bad for the body. Caffeine is one of those elements.
On the positive Choffy is packed with a different stimulant that is good for the body. It is called Theobromine. It affects the body by opening the vascular system up and helping to produce an increase in blood flow and help the heart work more efficiently. Choffy is also packed with antioxidants. Cacão has more antioxidants in it per volume than any other food on the planet. One 8 oz. cup of Choffy has more antioxidants in it than 2 full servings of blueberries. Choffy acts as a super-detoxifier, helping your body rid itself of the toxins that tax your system
Choffy also naturally contains some essential minerals that help promote good health:
Magnesium: Cacão appears to be the best source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium is one of the great alkaline minerals, helping to support the heart, brain, and digestive system. In addition, Magnesium balances brain chemistry and builds strong bones.
Iron: Cacão contains a significant amount of iron per serving. Iron, a critical mineral in nutrition, is part of the oxygen carrying protein called hemoglobin that keeps our blood healthy.
Are any coffee shops in Portland serving Choffy?
No coffee shops here in Portland yet, though many have shown interest. We have some in other states. We hope many other locations will do the same.
Where can you buy Choffy Now?
We have a number of individual distributors here in Portland. They are a great resource for Choffy. Choffy can also be purchased online at drinkchoffy.com. We are happy to say that Food Front Co-op grocery has just started selling Choffy in their grocery store.
What's next for Choffy?
We hope to continue to grow. We hope to be able to share Choffy with more people. We hope to continue to add distributors to our family, and hope that many other locations will be interested carrying Choffy. We don’t believe that Choffy will cure cancer, or that you will suddenly gain 78% more effectiveness in your day, but we firmly stand by fact that Choffy is truly good for you. It is the reason we built this company, “to champion healthy living and wellness in body, mind and spirit for people everywhere.”