It’s been eight years since I wore a lab coat, but I still have a soft spot for science. Even better if it’s science of food–or, as it says in my banner, the science of sweet things. So it’s little wonder that Rob Anderson and I hit it off so well. He’s an engineer by day, chocolate maker by night, and you can see that combination in his approach to chocolate.
Basically, Rob takes one batch of beans and then changes one variable at a time. For example, he might get two chocolates with the same roast, but different conche times. It’s a controlled, chocolatey tasting experiment–perhaps the best kind of experiment. I use Rob’s chocolate in a lot of my tastings because it’s a way for people to taste for themselves what the effect of roasting or conching is on chocolate’s final flavour.
I interviewed Rob at last year’s Northwest Chocolate Festival.
What is Fresco Chocolate known for?
We’re a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Bellingham, Washington. We import cocoa beans, roast them, conch them and turn them into finished, single-origin chocolates. I try to highlight different flavours—naturally occurring flavours—in the cocoa beans, by experimenting with different roasting levels in the cocoa and different conching methods in the chocolate. To bring out unique flavours in the chocolate.
We were founded in 2010 and I’m the founder, owner, chocolate maker, chocolate mold washer, everything.
How did you come to chocolate?
I’ve always loved chocolate and in 2003 I was general manager of an electronics manufacturing company and in that industry there was basically a recession. It was called the dot-com bubble, and it crashed. As the general manager of the group of about 40 people, we were a $50 million unit, and we had to shut down. And it was really difficult. I went back to our corporate office, took a few people with me but I had to let a lot of people go. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I decided then that no matter how hard I worked personally, if I worked for someone else I was never really in control of my destiny. So I decided to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’ve always loved chocolate so I decided, how hard can it be to make chocolate? Five years later, I realized it was not trivial but it turned into a passion. It went from an interest to a hobby to a passion to an obsession, and from that we started a small business.
What’s the best part of your job?
Experimenting with new recipes. Getting a new cacao in and playing with it just to see what we can do with it.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Time. There’s never enough time to do everything that I’d like to do.
What would you do if you weren’t making chocolate?
Um…laying on the beach in Hawaii?