“It’s great to be with folks who are facing similar challenges and want to make our community better.”
SCCA Member: Jim Welna, Welna II Hardware

New Member Profile: K’ul Chocolate

Peter Kelsey, Proprietor of K'ul Chocolate

Peter Kelsey, Proprietor of K’ul Chocolate

K’ul Chocolate (pronounced ‘cool’) is the newest endeavor of local entrepreneur and chef Peter Kelsey, former owner of the New French Bakery, and one of the newest businesses in Seward. After more than 20 years building the artisan bread bakery ‘from scratch’ into a business with 300 employees and $40 million in revenue, Kelsey sold the New French Bakery in 2013.

Retirement didn’t seem to suit him, however. A cancer survivor, avid bicyclist and healthy lifestyle enthusiast, Kelsey was disappointed that most of the energy bars sold locally use unhealthy (high glycemic?) forms of cooked sugar. He remembered the peanut butter, crackers, dried fruit and chocolate that his family would take on outdoor adventures when he was growing up, and the idea of artisan dark chocolate energy bars was born.

 “It took two years to learn the chocolate making process,” says Kelsey, “and to research the specialty machines needed to winnow, sort, roast, and grind the cacao beans.” He also researched and visited many cacao growers in Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rico, Peru and Mexico to source the beans from sustainable, family and heirloom growers.

K'ul Chocolate: Boxes of Bars

K’ul Chocolate: Boxes of Bars

K’ul comes from the Mayan word for energy, and the six varieties of K’ul Chocolate bars are 70% dark chocolate – they are also vegan, gluten/soy/dairy free, and low-glycemic. According to Kelsey, “the goal is good chocolate with the highest nutritional value.” In other words, chocolate that’s good for you! The K’ul ‘Endurance’ bar has 8 grams of protein and contains dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, algae protein, and guarana powder (from a plant common in Brazil whose seeds are high in caffeine).


K'ul Chocolate shop

K’ul Chocolate shop

The K’ul Chocolate Store opened last month at 2211 East Franklin Ave, in the old Movement Arts Center building. Kelsey has long had roots in the neighborhood: he lived in Seward years ago, shopped at the Seward Co-op when it was in the current Welna Hardware II building, and transformed an old rock n’ roll club at 26th St & 26th Ave into the home of the New French Bakery in 1997. “I knew Nina Chenault (owner of the Movement Arts Center) from when my sons and I studied karate here,” explains Kelsey. “So when I heard she was planning to retire, it just seemed right to locate here where people care about good food and healthy living.”

Luis monitoring the  cacao roaster

Luis monitoring the cacao roaster

Behind the store is the production facility, where the cacao beans are roasted, grinded, mixed with berries, nuts and other ingredients, and then poured into molds and packaged on site. Known as a ‘bean to bar’ process, the production and retail operation has seven full time employees making a living wage.

The store serves coffee and hot chocolate in addition to selling the energy bars, and a story of chocolate mini-museum is planned for part of the retail space. Store hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 am – 6 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm. The K’ul Chocolate Online Store was launched this month.




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