Meet Ethereal Confections, the maker of Death Wish Coffee chocolate bars

By Shannon Sweeney — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

Q&A with Ethereal Confection’s Michael Ervin

THEY'RE HERE! These chocolate bars — in addition to a Peppermint Mocha bar and a Cookies and Cream bar — are available now. 

One of the most popular products we've ever release is Death Wish Coffee Chocolate Bars, made by our friends at Ethereal Confections in Illinois. To learn more about how these delicious chocolate bars were made, we interviewed Michael Ervin from Ethereal. 

Read below to find out about how Death Wish Coffee Chocolate was created directly from Michael Ervin, one of the owners of Ethereal Confections. 

What made you want to work with Death Wish Coffee?

I think that Thomas at Death Wish and I were oar-mates on a Viking ship a few hundred years ago. Who could deny a karmic connection like that?

Aside from Viking ships, Ethereal and Death Wish share two very important things that drive us. 1. Sourcing really great ingredients and 2. Making a mind-blowing experience in people's mouths. When we first started talking about a partnership, ideas were free-flowing and we went back and forth until we came up with something we were stoked about (and stashed a few ideas away for next year!)

The more we worked together, the more it became clear this was a really great match of values and people. We knew something special would come out of it.

How long did it take you to match our coffee’s flavor profile with similar tasting chocolate? What is that process like?

Both myself and my partners Mary and Sara have worked with chocolate long enough to have a sort of mental palette of how flavors merge together. We used to take huge tables full of ingredients and try a small piece of several items along with a bite of chocolate. For instance, what would candied pecans, scorpion chili, bourbon, and chocolate taste like? (Hint: it's delicious). Or what blend of our chocolate matches best with peanut butter? We had a peanut butter tasting where we tried a table full of different types before finding the perfect one. We also had a butter tasting once with about 15 different varieties. We have really bizarre (but fun) tasting parties.

After experimenting with enough flavors, you develop a sense of the kinds of combinations that will work really well. The exciting thing about working with Death Wish is that both chocolate and coffee can have these subtle flavors that match up in similar ways. Our different origins have flavors like brown sugar, raisins, graham crackers, berries, spices, and even tobacco. There's nothing added to the chocolate, it's just a matter of the genetics of the plant, the soil, the weather, and how the cocoa is fermented. There's a world of flavor to explore.

When we first received the Death Wish beans, we drank a few cups. And then a few more. We ground the beans to different sizes. We tasted that and then we went through round after round testing different origins, sweetness, and topping combinations. We did a blind taste test with each one to see which we liked the best and then refined the end product. Each batch was ground for about 12 hours before it was ready to taste in our small test machines. When we go into production with it, we grind for about 60 hours, so we wanted to get it perfect right off the bat.

In all, we probably tried about 100 different combinations of processing methods, origins, and toppings to come up with what we though the top three were. Those went off to Thomas and the Death Wish team to select the best of the best. 

What are you most excited about for releasing the Death Wish Coffee Chocolate? 

At this point, we can't wait for people to get the bars in their hands (and mouths!) During testing, we found that even eating a quarter of a bar was enough for hours of solid, wonderful buzz. You aren't just steeping and drinking the coffee, you are actually consuming the whole bean in the most delicious way possible. Tell us what you want us to make next!

Death Wish Coffee Chocolate Bars are coming soon.


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