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Salt and Straw cones rely on local chocolate

Freckled Woodblock starts with cocoa beans from Trinidad and Costa Rica.

“We can track every bean back to its farm,” says Charley Wheelock, who started Woodblock Chocolate with his wife, Jessica, around the time Kim and Tyler Malek launched the Salt & Straw ice cream company.

After the two couples crossed paths, the Maleks started selling the chocolate bars in their shop and then used it for a new Valentine’s Day flavor.

Wheelock circles the globe to produce his chocolate, becoming Porland's first bean-to-bar chocolate company. After visiting the originating farm or co-op, he ships the beans by container in 160-pound burlap sacks, which he has to carry through the door because the loader won't fit through the doorway.

With a 1905 peanut roaster he found on eBay, Wheelock roasts the beans in 30-pound batches, then pours them into a "winnower" machine he built to separate hulls from beans. Cocoa nibs are then aerated, refined with stone wheels, heated in a big metal vat with pure cane sugar, set in large blocks and aged about three weeks.

The 70-percent chocolate is finally tempered into 25-gram bars that are wrapped by hand and sold for $4 to chocolate enthusiasts and chefs here and around the world.

Wheelock plans to launch two new bars this summer that he promises will be exciting to anyone who appreciates the distinctions between his Trinidad, Venezuela and Madagascar bars.

"The fun thing is the difference in the flavors in the origins," he says, "so we're sticking to pretty basic products."