BY ADAM SALANDRA
There are certain tastes and smells that can instantly transport us to special moments in the past. From the smell of cinnamon during the holidays to the taste of warm apple pie like your grandmother used to make, the senses have the ability to unlock magical memories. That’s exactly what Chef Lauren Gockley, Coda Signature’s Director of Edibles, hopes to capture in every bite of her unique chocolate bars. The chocolatier knows the power of nostalgia, an experience that just so happens to be enhanced with THC. That’s why her edibles, which are crafted from South American ethically-sourced cacao, are designed to create a mouthful of memories.
In a conversation with EMBER, Gockley explains the inspiration behind her chocolate bars, how she sources premium ingredients, and what she has in store for Coda Signature’s edible line.
You’re a classically-trained chocolatier. What made you want to go into the world of cannabis-infused chocolates?
Well I think it’s about continuing the journey that I’m on and exploring all the avenues available in chocolate. There was such an opportunity in the cannabis space to bring about a new experience in flavor and making the consumption of edibles a more well-rounded experience. So when it comes to the packaging, when it comes to the visual component of the product and of course, the flavor, I think all of that prepares your brain to consume cannabis.
Why do you think chocolate and cannabis pair so well together?
I think chocolate blends really well with the earthiness of cannabis from the perspective of a flavor profile. It’s the idea of how do we as people provide nourishment and happiness? And I think both hit that nail on the head.
Additionally, they contain a chemical very similar to anandamide, which is what we produce in our brain. It’s referred to as the bliss molecule.
With flavors like Coffee & Doughnuts and Cream & Crumble, your chocolate bars are so unique. How do you come up with the flavor combinations?
I think one of the things that inspires me is this idea of nostalgia and what it is that creates memories and brings about happiness. Chocolate, for one, that’s a given. And then, what are these moments in time that we can capture? So, I’ll take Coffee & Doughnuts, for example. That has some special memories for me. It was really important to take that experience of getting fresh doughnuts and a warm cup of coffee, but how do you capture that and, in our industry for example, in a single square? One serving is all that someone is going to have. Not a whole chocolate bar, just one serving. So, it’s really trying to capture those critical parts of flavor that trigger those memories. That moment in time that will transport us and not only elevate our high, but also elevate our emotions.
How do you source your cacao and choose your ingredients?
It was a really beautiful introduction when I met the team from Republica del Cacao, which is where we source the majority of our chocolate. We were on a very similar timeline, as well as a very common vision in the level of quality that we’re looking to bring to both of our industries. Very early on in our relationship, they provided me the opportunity to visit Ecuador and their cacao and sugar plantations. Also, the mountaintops of the Andes where the cows run free and are milked at six in the morning, every morning, to provide the milk for our white and milk chocolate. It continues to add value, not only to my personal journey of chocolate, but continuing to elevate what the cannabis edible experience is by starting with the freshest, cleanest ethically sourced ingredients we can.
What is your overall goal when creating new chocolates? What’s the one thing you’re really hoping to achieve?
To some extent, this touches back on the level of nostalgia, but I also want to surprise people. One of the flavors that I think really does that is our Cream & Crumble. When we offer that to people, sometimes their first response is No, I don’t like white chocolate. It definitely takes a little bit of coercion, explaining to them that we use one of the only single-origin white chocolates in the world, and explaining where the milk comes from. And then really talking about the versatility of white chocolate and what we’ve done with Cream & Crumble. Adding a little bit of that brightness from the lemon to contrast the sweetness of the white chocolate texture, plus the sourness from the crumble and the sour cream – it has very quickly become one of our top-selling bars in the state of Colorado.
What are some challenges you faced in your cannabis journey?
One of the biggest challenges has been the conflict of the phrase “Always taste your food.” We just are not able to have that luxury in this space and for very good reason. So, it really starts at the core of making sure that our processes are just buttoned up, from the formulation to the actual process of infusing and producing. From safety and quality, ensuring that at each step of the process, based on the parameters and the systems that we put in place, every chocolate bar that leaves our facility is going to be exactly the same as the chocolate that left a month earlier, from flavor to cannabis effect. And that takes a lot of time and patience. One of my favorite quotes is “time as an ingredient.” We’re taking the time to ensure that even though we can’t taste it at every part of the process, we are absolutely confident that we’re creating a safe and consistent product for our customer.
As a female leader in the cannabis industry, have you found the space to be inviting? Challenging? Empowering?
I liked your word, “inviting.” I have the pleasure of working with some incredibly brilliant and strong women here at Coda and women that I’ve met in the industry. Also, some unbelievably thoughtful and compassionate, patient men who have taught me a lot about the working relationship between men and women. In this cannabis space, we are writing the narrative and that in itself is incredibly empowering as a person in general. I think it’s really up to us how that narrative is told. We get to do that, men and women, in a way that I think is going to define the history books. I think it’s a great opportunity for women to continue to show their prowess as strong businesspeople.
Do you have any new edibles or flavors coming up that you can tease?
We are in the process of something we already launched in Colorado and are inching towards launching here in California – our version of the gummy, which we’re calling Fruit Notes. It’s really taking the purity of fruit and turning it into an edible using real fruit, pectin, organic tapioca syrup, you know, all-natural ingredients. It’s vegan-friendly. We’re taking a different step and different direction to create that luxury edible that doesn’t carry a lot of the guilt that comes with lots of sugar.
About Coda Signature: Coda Signature creates cannabis infused products full of inspiration and imagination; representing decades of collective experience ranging from organic chemistry and classical French training to industrial design and entrepreneurship. Their team embodies many elements - knowledge, passion, courage, and whimsy - working in concert to achieve proper execution every time. Find out more at CodaSignature.com and pick up their range of chocolate bars at any of MedMen’s California locations.