Portions of the windows were covered in paper as construction workers added finishing touches to Intrigue Chocolate and Coffee House’s newly opened storefront in Capitol Hill. But after I strolled through the door, the construction outside melted away with the smell of freshly brewed coffee greeting me. Natural light barreled through the large windows onto a minimalist interior of wood and concrete while baristas ground coffee beans behind the counter. Inside the glass display case were strategically placed boxes of chocolate, boasting a variety of unique flavors labeled on their brown wrappers.
Moments later I sat down with Karl Mueller, one of the owners of Intrigue to ask him about his business and pursuing his passion. “I had a passion for getting into small business and owning a business of my own,” Karl recalled, “We started making chocolate at commercial kitchens and driving it out to wineries, pairing it with wine, and that eventually led to our establishment down in Pioneer Square where there’s a lot more retail.”
When asked about what he likes about running his own small business, it was apparent that Karl loved to roll his sleeves up and go to work. “I got involved in this business because I really liked the numbers side of small business. I really liked the grassroots and having to wear lots of different hats,” reflected Karl. One of his favorite things is being a morale boost in people’s day. “What I love most now is that I’m spending a lot of time behind the bar pouring coffee and meeting people at the register. I get to be a bit of a ramp in everyone’s day.”
When it comes to marketing, social media has been a big help for Intrigue. With Karl’s background in digital marketing and a new interest in photography, they’ve quickly picked up over 1,600 followers on Instagram alone, showing off their latest coffee creations and fresh chocolate ingredients.
Towards the end of my conversation with Karl, I asked him about their experience being a loan client with Business Impact NW and how it helped them to open their new location. “The process of working with Business Impact NW was very pleasant in the sense that we’d never had to work with banks before and that process can be rather intimidating. They were very accommodating with the information that we lacked, and that was what was unique about them… They were willing to work with a small business that didn’t have all the answers yet.”
Intrigue Chocolate and Coffee House, owned by Karl Mueller and Aaron Barthel, has locations in Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill. Stop by for an unforgettable chocolate experience and follow their journey on Instagram.
Learn more about Intrigue on King5: Intrigue Chocolate Co. in Seattle offers truffles and chocolate flights – KING 5 NDNW.
Just can’t get enough of Intrigue Chocolate? For the extended version of this video, please visit bit.ly/intriguefull.