Interview with Dr. Eric Durtschi, President of Crio Inc.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself? How did you get started?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: I am a chiropractor and focused a lot on nutrition.  I am also the son of a chocolate maker and I have a passion for chocolate.  Several years ago, I started hearing the buzz about chocolate being healthy and I wanted to understand this because all the chocolate that I knew was not healthy.  My father worked for one of the US largest chocolate makers and I ate chocolate all the time.  I would gain 10-15 pounds every winter that I had to work hard to lose each summer.  As I started looking into these healthy claims, I realized that the cocoa bean is one of the top superfoods in the world and amazingly nutritious.  That led me to want to find a way to harness these amazing properties without all the negatives typically associated with over processed chocolates.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell readers about Crio Bru? How did it begin?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: As I learned about the history of the cocoa bean, I realized that it was a drink for thousands of years before solid chocolate came to be.  They would take whole cocoa beans, roast them, grind them with spices and use it as a drink.  In fact, the original Olmec word for chocolate is Xocolatl which means “bitter water” and if you have ever tried 100% cacao, you will understand this.  I began importing cocoa beans from all over the world and trying them.  After working for awhile with the bean and wondering how to bring cacao back to its healthy origins as a drink, I thought of coffee and asked myself “what if you could combine 2 of the world’s greatest passions, coffee and chocolate, into a new healthy delicious new drink?”  That’s when I started down the path of brewing cocoa beans.  I had to develop completely different, patent pending, methods of harvesting and producing the beans as well as roasting them.  Then I came upon the problem of grinding the bean.  Cocoa beans are around 50% cocoa butter which melts at a very low temperature and when I used traditional coffee grinders, I would quickly get a sticky melted mess.  I developed a unique method of grinding the bean without generating heat.  Once this was figured out, I started testing out and quickly realized that I had a winner with the product.  I had successfully developed a chocolate product that offers the amazing health benefits of cacao without all the fat and calories.

Sarah Velasco: What is your mission?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: To provide healthy, delicious, and unique chocolate products that will improve peoples lives.

Sarah Velasco: What types of products do you have?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: Our main line is Crio Brü Brewed cocoa but we also sell raw cacao nibs and hand peeled cacao beans that have been covered in chocolate.  Chocolate covered chocolate, what could be better than that? :)  I am currently developing a new line of chocolate bars which should be released later this year.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about these products? What makes them different from other ones one the market?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: I created and developed this product and we do not have any competitors of note in the retail market.  There have been a few people that have tried to take my knowledge but they are lacking the expertise that I have and the product is not as high quality.  I have traveled the world seeking the best cocoa beans and working directly with farmers teaching them better methods of producing their cacao beans specifically for a brewed drink.  This makes a big difference in the end result.

Sarah Velasco: How has Crio Bru helped the environment?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: We work with farmers directly and always pay more than fair trade prices for our beans as well. By teaching them better harvesting techniques, they can provide superior products and receive premium prices for their beans.  We also have a facility that uses wind power.

Sarah Velasco: Are there specific brewing instructions that customers need to follow?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: The best way to prepare Crio Bru is with a French Press.  It takes longer to brew than coffee and this allows you to do that.  The best steep time is around 10 minutes.  Traditional coffee makers work also but it is best to use a permanent reusable filter.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us some of the benefits cocoa beans have?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: Cacao beans are one of the top superfoods in the world.  They are higher in antioxidants than almost any other product.  They are also extremely packed with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, iron, chromium and many others.  Cocoa beans are low in caffeine but they have a healthy stimulant, called theobromine, that gives you long lasting natural energy as opposed to the spike and crash of caffeine.  They also have serotonin which helps to relax and balance brain chemistry.  Many people notice that eating dark chocolate makes them feel happy.  There are 2 other compounds in cacao that do this.  One is anandamide.  This is also known as the bliss chemical because it gives feelings of happiness and bliss.  The other is Phenylethylamine or the love chemical.  When we fall in love, this is released and is associated with those feeling.  Together with the theobromine, you get a relaxed energy that can help you wake up in the morning but it can also help to balance you at night and improve sleep.

Sarah Velasco: Are there common misconceptions about cocoa beans?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: They are usually associated with poor quality chocolates.  Most traditional candy chocolate is very low in actual cacao and is mostly full of milk and sugar.  They are also processed for many hours and this reduces the health benefits.  Many chocolates also have added alkali which makes it less bitter but significantly reduces the antioxidant benefits. 

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers purchase Crio Bru?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: We are a growing company and in distribution through many grocery and specialty stores across the country.  If you can’t find us in a store near you, ask your grocery manager and maybe we can speed up that process.  All of our products are also offered online.

Sarah Velasco: Anything else you would like readers to know?
Dr. Eric Durtschi: One of the unique things about cocoa beans is that, depending on the region they are grown, they can all have very unique flavors.  Similar to wine.  We offer several varieties of cocoa beans from all over the world.  You are sure to find one that you will absolutely love. 

Be sure to watch Crio Bru on Shark Tank April 25th!