ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Fortunato #4 is made from Cacao that was once thought to be extinct. But in 2007, while working with mining companies in Peru, Dan Pearson and his step-son Brian Horsley found something they could not recognize.
It turned out to be Pure Nacional, cacao declared extinct years earlier.
"We found a remnant population that has a high percentage of white porcelana beans that give it a special creamy nutty flavor," Horsley explained.
Anthony Bourdain featured this special tree in one of his shows and it's been called the Rolex of Chocolate by swiss pastry chef Roger von Rotz.
"For ten years, we only sold the chocolate to restaurants and chocolatiers in 30 countries, but when the pandemic hit, that part of our business melted away. Restaurants were shutting down. Chocolate shops shutting down. But we had to keep buying cocoa beans," Adam Pearson shared.
It was part of an agreement they had made with their 500 independent farm families in Peru. They would always buy their cacao.
So the company started selling Fortunato #4 online and sales took off. Then, Adam had the idea to open a brick and mortar.
"I just had this strong idea, a vision, a belief if we put up a shop in this community, people would rally around it and it would be a success," Pearson shared.
They originally just planned to sell the bars they are famous for, but Chocolatier Javier Valencia had bigger ideas.
"Adam said I could do whatever I want!" Valencia shared.
Valencia now spends his time transforming the world-class chocolate into delicious treats. Fortunato calls it their "testing chocolate kitchen" and since the store opened, Valencia has developed a hot chocolate recipe, smores, turtles, and much more.
Customers can come in and sample for free.
"That's what's cool about the kitchen, we put the stuff out and we see if someone's face lights up, then we know we have a product that's worthwhile," Pearson shared.
Fortunato is located in a business park in Issaquah. They are open seven days a week and Javier's made from scratch hot chocolate is always on the house.