From Boats to Beans to Bars
In 2010 master carpenters and passionate boat builders Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor dropped their hammers, rolled up their collection of blueprints and entered the growing market for high quality, artisanal chocolate products. It was their collective skills, entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst (or should I say a taste?) for a new challenge that eventually drew them to the world of handmade chocolate. Armed with an abundance of ambition along with the help of a small group of family and friends Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (DTCC) was, in boaters parlance, launched
A mere three years after starting DTCC they won their first award (bronze) at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, recognized as the largest gathering of artisan chocolate makers in the world. Since then they have garnered well over a hundred national as well as international awards for their chocolate products in addition to being featured in several publications including Sunset magazine, the New York Times and Real Simple magazine among many others.
Multiple awards are not slowing them down
These days Adam, Dustin and a tight knit crew of friends are back to using their hammers, saws and construction skills, although this time they are not building a house or another boat. Instead they are renovating an abandoned building in Eureka, California just steps from the beach (yes they surf…and play in a band!) in what will be their new factory, showroom and retail gathering space.
Having outgrown their original storefront they went in search of a new location and eventually were fortunate to find a 15,000 square foot derelict building in need of a lot more than a coat of paint. The building itself has lived a cat-with-nine-lives existence dating back to the 1800s when it served as the town’s opera house.
The opportunity to customize the abandoned space to fit their multiple needs was another dream come true, albeit coming with significant time and labor. Like any project of this scope, Adam, Dustin and their team have had to manage myriad challenges, not the least of which has been overcoming multiple bureaucratic hurdles, procuring reams of permits all while dealing with numerous layers of cost.
Now that the renovation is complete the new multi-use space will serve as a casual gathering spot for locals as well as tourists. It’s easy to envision intimate tiny desk style concerts, art shows, food and chocolate pairing events along with tours of the factory. In addition to chocolate, plenty of branded merchandise will be available as was the case with the original store.
Not just another pretty face
Have you ever purchased a bottle of wine, a craft beer or a gourmet food product based solely on the design of the label? Careful thought goes into capturing the eyes of discerning consumers and that holds true for the graphics that appear on all DTCC products.
Not content to mimic the trend of Mayan inspired imagery or too much information on their packaging Adam and Dustin carefully researched other brands (yes, that means buying dozens of bean-to-bar chocolates!) to best discover the look and feel that they wanted for their various products.
Turning to Dustin’s brother Garrett, a graphic designer by trade, the team came up with exquisite hand drawn images of one of their favorite pastimes…boats. Understanding that newcomers to craft chocolate might struggle with too much information they decided that less would definitely be more when it came to the product details provided on the back of their packages. The mix of old world, hand drawn images on the front combined with simple content wording on the back has won the team many accolades and given them a look that is unique and eye catching.
Although great packaging is often what gets consumers attention it’s what’s inside that ultimately matters. Inside every DTCC package, be it dark chocolate covered almonds, black fig dark chocolate bars or one of their limited edition micro-batch releases the chocolates that DTCC produce are some of the finest this writer has ever tasted.
I have been a dark chocolate lover for as long as I can remember and have tried dozens of brands and flavors including a day trip to Bayonne, France, widely regarded as the official chocolate capital of France for the quality of its dark chocolate and I can honestly say that, although I am no expert, DTCC products can hold their own with the finest chocolate in the world.
David vs. Goliath
In 2022, the global chocolate market was worth an estimated $205.6 billion and is expected to grow to $262.5 billion by 2030. With industry giants such as Nestlé, MARS, Hershey’s, Ferrero, Lindt & Sprüngli and Scharffen Berger capturing the lions share of the global market there would appear to be no room for the “little guy”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement began in the United States in the early 1990s and since the mid 2000s the interest in, and growth of, artisanal chocolate has circled the globe. In the David vs. Goliath global chocolate market it is an amazing and inspiring achievement that Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate has become as successful as they are.
The future looks bright
After a well attended soft opening in December 2022 and with the store up-and-running the new facility will be making a bigger splash with a Grand Opening set to take place on Memorial Day weekend. With much of the heavy lifting behind them the team at DTCC is poised to write yet another chapter in their ongoing story of commitment to excellence in the growing craft chocolate space. All roads have led to this exciting new development and continue to serve as testimony to their hard work, ingenuity and devotion to producing the best possible craft chocolate products.
Perhaps a limited edition “Eureka Opera House bar” will be offered in the future as an homage the buildings heritage!