New Chocolate Spotlight:
by Eric Battersby
Ahhh, beautiful San Diego, California. Few places in the US will wow you, regardless of the season, like Southern California’s crown jewel. Gorgeous ocean views, near perfect climate year-round, Coronado’s beautiful beachfront… if you’re feeling the bad weather blues elsewhere, book a trip to San Diego and take a break in the sun. You’ll be glad you did.
Need yet another reason to love San Diego? We’re here for you. The newly-launched Wolf Chocolate calls the city home.
If you’ve never heard of Wolf, you’re certainly not alone, as I’m by no means exaggerating when I say “newly-launched”. The company first started selling chocolate only a few weeks ago, yet thanks to a little springtime chocolate serendipity (more on that later), we not only discovered Wolf surprisingly quickly, we decided to launch a new category for the magazine to accommodate them – and of course other great, new chocolate makers in the future as well. So here we are, officially welcoming you to your very first NEW CHOCOLATE SPOTLIGHT feature: Wolf Chocolate.
Man with a Mission
It’s no secret that we gravitate towards good-intentioned chocolate makers, those who keep the bigger picture front and center as they pursue their own cacao dreams. Whether it’s a passion for upgrading and uplifting the entire supply chain, empowering women in cacao, or one of several other noble aims within the chocolate world, so many great people flock to crafting high quality chocolate with a purpose.
Wolf Chocolate introduces yet another layer, however, as they bring a new, even more specific cause into the fold, which their tag line, “Buy chocolate – Save animals,” only partially reveals. Company founder Cody Arguelles, and his wife Jeanne, both hold a passion for Wolf dogs, hence the name, and the premise, of the chocolate.
As Cody elaborates —
“The brand Wolf Chocolate was primarily inspired by my passion for Wolf Dogs. My wife and I have always just loved wolves. Any dog really, but wolves to us were the ultimate dog. They are largely misunderstood, and we love them very much. I guess you can just call it our preference when it comes to which breed we’d like to have in our family. They require mass amounts of attention and care… definitely not easy, but so worth it to us.
We have two at home, Dawn and Dusk, who my wife and I absolutely adore. We’d recently rescued Dusk from a family that couldn’t take care of him anymore, and if they had not found a new home for him, he might’ve been sent to a shelter. Unfortunately, they automatically kill wolf dogs in shelters because of their “exotic” classification.
This fostered a strong passion in us to help other dogs find homes. Even though they may not be “wolf dogs,” any dog given a second chance is a life saved. After all, they become a part of your family, and it’s sad to think that people cast them aside or leave them behind.”
Indeed, Wolf even tried to partner with the San Diego Zoo when preparing to launch their brand.
“We tried… They had initially asked for $10k and completely ignored us when we asked about lower amounts. We totally understand though, as I’m sure they get millions of requests.”
The bottom line for Cody is that any animal is worth saving, and although right now they “are blessed with the opportunity to help dogs, hopefully we can grow as a company resulting in a growth of our opportunities to help animals.”
No Chocolate, No Cry
Despite the unusual angle of saving dogs’ lives via chocolate, perhaps the most unique aspect I ran into when putting together our feature on Wolf for this issue was that not only did Wolf Chocolate just get underway here in 2019, but Cody himself only discovered real chocolate recently as well.
Two years ago, the light bulb popped on –
“To be honest I never really enjoyed chocolate until my first “craft chocolate” experience tasting Ritual Chocolates Madagascar.”
Ritual opened his eyes (and tastebuds) to the wonderful, natural taste of true chocolate, and also helped him appreciate the work it takes to produce a great product.
It may sound a bit much for Cody to sidestep chocolate all this time, until you realize that he’s only twenty-five years old. He did, however, enter another craft industry at an earlier age, as five years ago he started a career in craft coffee, developing his own company and starting the Sons of Liberty Coffee brand.
Cody held onto it for about a year before selling the trademark rights, and the Sons of Liberty brand now prospers in Fort Worth, Texas.
As we’ve noted before, coffee and wine serve as great launchpads into chocolate (and vice versa), as all three share multiple traits. Cody easily made the connection himself as well –
“What drew me to coffee was the craftsmanship behind all of the flavors the world has to offer. Depending on the terroir and region where the coffee grows, it can have a vastly different taste. After selling the rights away to my brand, I contemplatied for the past couple of years if I wanted to start a new one in the coffee industry.
When I came across the craft chocolate industry, I was fascinated and amazed at how similar it was to coffee and wine, and I decided to make the pivot.”
From coffee to chocolate, a new journey began…
Enter the Wolf
Cody now needed to walk a different path, and for all the nuances in the coffee and wine worlds, nothing presents more complexity than our beloved cacao. Cody knows it’s a long, daunting road ahead before Wolf truly crafts elite chocolate, and he’s completely fine with that premise.
As he respectfully notes –
“I am a VERY new “chocolatier” (if i can even call myself that), and I have an immense respect for those doing it longer than me. I know I have a lot more to learn.”
You can also chalk Cody up as one of several self-taught chocolate makers we’ve covered over the years. He takes self-taught to another level, however, noting that all of his training actually took place via YouTube. True story, and one that begs question, is there anything we can’t learn from YouTube these days?!
All the YouTube videos and good intentions in the world don’t add up to darn thing, however, without a great finished product. Despite the newness of Wolf Chocolate, we were turned on to the brand when two different Chocolate Connoisseur correspondents mentioned the bars in a positive light within mere days of each other — including Associate Writer Victoria Cooksey, who took the first photo (just above) I’d seen of Wolf Chocolate, right after she posted it on Instagram.
That’s the chocolate serendipity I mentioned earlier in the article, and you wouldn’t be reading this without it.
Although I’ve yet to taste Wolf Chocolate myself, based on the two early up-votes from within here, I’m guessing Cody walks the walk. He holds much greater ambitions for Wolf than he can currently realize of course, but let’s take a look at where the company’s chocolate stands right now for starters.
Four Bars and the Truth
Wolf wisely keeps it simple, and its current chocolate line, which you can actually try this month via our chocolate offer, sits proudly at only four bars (pictured below): 80% Dark Ecuador KETO, 70% Dark Ecuador Esmereldas, 70% Dark Banana, and 70% Dark Peru Fincta Santa Estela.
Cody developed the KETO bar after a friend couldn’t find a healthy chocolate to eat within his own diet restrictions. Wolf’s keto line uses Monk Fruit as the sweetener in place of sugar. As he notes, “sugar-free, single origin, and it still tastes great!”
All bars focus on only a handful of ingredients, mainly cacao beans, cacao butter, sugar or monk fruit, and the occasional fruit for rotational flavors. As you might expect, these ingredients closely mirror Cody’s own chocolate philosophy –
“I believe in celebrating the natural taste of what the cacao can bring in. That’s what makes single origin so unique and worth while. For flavors, I enjoy finding the most natural way to influence taste without anything “fake”. Single origin, natural ingredients, wild flavors via natural fruit.”
Here in the early going, Wolf’s 70% Dark Banana bar outpaces the rest in terms of sale. Crafted with Ecuador Esmeraldas cacao, Cody uses freeze dried banana to create the natural fruit flavor, and notes that the bar “has an extremely natural banana taste that reminds you of a frozen banana dipped in chocolate.”
Wolf currently sources beans from Meridian Cacao and Chocolate Alchemy, putting a focus on fair trade and ethically-sourced cacao. They also use organic ingredients and organic cacao, but with the cacao classified as “Uncertified Organic”, they can’t make any full organic claims.
As noted earlier, however, Cody hopes to elevate Wolf’s back channels to new high heights as soon as possible –
“I want to be able to give back to the farmers, so eventually I’d like to source directly with them instead of a broker.”
Howl at the Moon
Looking to the future, we expect Wolf’s unique focus on the greater good, with its one-to-one donation program favoring our extremely popular and loved four-legged friends, will reap great rewards for all sides over time. In the meantime, Cody continues to put in the hard work and keep the positivity flowing, as he so graciously thanked Chocolate Connoisseur, “We are such a new company and the fact that we are doing this interview means the world to us!”
You can of course help by participating in this month’s chocolate offer, or if you’re reading this after the offer’s expiration, simply visit Wolf’s website and pick up a few bars there instead. Remember, for every bar sold, Wolf Chocolate donates $1 to Wags and Walks [http://www.wagsandwalks.org], a nonprofit organization that saves shelter dog’s lives, over 4,500 to date.
We also feel quite optimistic about Wolf moving forward, largely because of Cody’s own contagious enthusiasm. When asked, “What would you say is the best part about being a chocolate maker,” he replied –
“The best part about being a chocolate maker is having the ability to create a product that everyone loves while being able to help animals in the process!”
That’s the spirit, and I can hear all the rescued dogs howling with joy, from Dusk to Dawn…
For more on Wolf Chocolate, visit their website right here:
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