Evolve’s Chaicolate good for Easter, Mother’s Day

The first rule of comparing sipping chocolate to hot chocolate is…don’t.

“It’s incomparable to hot chocolate,” says chocolatier Shannon Fox, co-owner and co-founder of Evolve Chocolate in Bellingham. “It’s an actual preparation of a food product.”

The biggest question we have of sipping chocolate, a fixture at European cafes but only a recent trend here, is “What took you so long?”

We grew up on powdered hot chocolate that you mixed with hot water or milk, often with lumpy results. The whipped cream and marshmallows were usually the best thing about it.

But sipping chocolate is something else. Dark, rich and a little mysterious, it’s actual chocolate melted with simmering milk for a creamy consistency. Surprisingly, it is often less sweet than that powdered stuff from the envelope.

Image: Shannon Fox

Fox has created Evolve’s own, singular contribution to the sipping chocolate trend – chai. Evolve’s Sipping Chaicolate is a peppery-sweet blend of chocolate, chai and tea. Fox’s inspiration for the exotic spice came more than three decades ago when, as a 16-year-old visiting India, she was mesmerized by the street scene in Bombay, where dance, color and storytelling chai wallahs (skilled vendors) created a life-altering memory, she says.

“It left quite an impression on me,” she said. “It changed my life forever. What I brought back with me was love of chai and spices.”

Since starting Evolve with wife Christy Fox – recently hired as executive chef at Bellingham’s new Northwater Restaurant and Bar – the Foxes have been making Chaicolate for a few years and selling it at their signature popup chocolate lounges and farmers markets.  Like some of history’s best innovations, this one came by accident.

“I was making chocolate separately, and it was one of those `Aha!’” moments,” Shannon Fox said.

Image: Shannon Fox

At the farmers market last year, she said, “everyone said, `Please, please make it into a dry mix,’” she said. Evolve did, and is rolling it out just in time for chocolate gift-giving for Easter (April 16) and Mother’s Day (May 14). The Chaicolate is available at Terra Organica, the Chrysalis Inn and Spa and as of this printing is expected soon at Whole Foods.

What makes Evolve’s chocolate so good is that it’s got so much of the real thing. Its chocolate is 85 percent dark chocolate, whereas typical dark chocolate weighs in at about 55 percent, Fox says. She says their proprietary Chaicolate sources organic, non-GMO, fair-trade chocolate from famed Seattle chocolatier Theo and spices from Spice Hut, which are organic too.

But you don’t need to know all that to give your taste buds a sweetly spiced ride, and feel a glow in the process.

“Sipping chocolate is something that warm and toasty,” Fox said. “It brings people together, like food.”

Image: Joseph Wine


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"Evolve’s Sipping Chaicolate is a peppery-sweet blend of chocolate, chai and tea."