We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Shipler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Freedom and quality in unison. It really is the American dream to start your own business, that’s what was on my mind when I started Stone Grindz Chocolate with Kasey McCaslin. I wanted to have the freedom to create everyday something that makes people say “wow”, something that makes people think, and something that makes people inspired. I stumbled across a video online of a guy grinding his own chocolate from bean to bar at home, and I knew this was it! It was unique, and after I had done some research into the art and craft of dark chocolate I realized how incredibly difficult and artistic the whole process is, which to me was intriguing because I love a high skill cap and I love to be creative. Luckily this quest for quality paid off in a world of bulk commodity chocolate. We have innovated flavors that don’t exist anywhere else, and we have also won 26 International Chocolate Awards including 3 Good Food Awards 3 years in a row, and 2 gold medals at the World Competition in Italy. We are so grateful to our customers for supporting our passion and keeping our dream alive, and to the farmers who farm high end heirloom cacao beans.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently I’m most excited about the profile we’ve been able to achieve with our Ucayali River, Peru bar. This is the bar that won us world gold at the International Chocolate Awards! I have been working with this bean from Peru for over 4 years now, and at first it was incredibly hard to figure out what time and temperature to roast it at. Over 50 different roasting profiles later we settled on a profile that is so bright and light, it tastes like cherry, molasses, caramel, and anise. It’s something you have to try to believe. The road has been paved with difficulties.. As a small business and in my personal life I have had many struggles. I lost my mom when I was 13 and that was really tough. There have been times where I feel we might go out of business, and now with Covid I’ve had to migrate back home and get my home kitchen certified as a manufacturing facility, crazy right! We were finally in development trying to find a commercial space that would work well for our production, and then boom everything fell apart. I am grateful to be able to continue doing what I do though. I feel honored to support small farmers and bring something truly unique to the world, and I just want to say to everyone still struggling there is always hope, just like my story you can do this too, you just need to start!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite food spots in the city are Totties Asian Fusion, I really love their curry and they have some of the best Pho I have tried in Arizona. I would definitely go for a bacon burger at San Tan Brewery that’s one of my new favorites. I do love a good cocktail and I would probably go to Culinary dropout for one of their two handed shandies, they have one with a yuzu cocktail and a buddha beer and its so yummy. Lastly, Mr. Mesquite tacos in Old Town Scottsdale is a must, their tacos are out of this world good and smoky and unique I go there for lunch far too often haha they do a great job.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My dad actually is the one that gave us a $1500 loan to start my company, that’s the nice thing about farmers markets is that you don’t need much to start. My dad was there for a lot of the initial development including our first run with our stone grinder and our first batch of bean to bar chocolate. My dad has always been an entrepreneur and I think I get that from him.. The want to grow something on my own and have that freedom. He always allowed me and encouraged creativity as I was growing up, so I owe a lot to my dad.
We took all of these photos, if you have any suggestions or would like different photos let me know and I can make that happen!
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