Matt Kettmann

Spicy Togarashi Caramel Truffle @ Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate

Just One of Many Tastes Now Offered at Bean-to-Bar Factory’s New Retail Shop

Herbaceous, savory, slightly hot, a touch salty, and, of course, a little bit sweet, the Spicy Togarashi Caramel Truffle ($2.50) made by Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate is a confectionary revelation. The obvious attractions — butter-soft caramel, glossy cocoa butter shell, dark chocolate expertly crafted by Santa Barbara’s homegrown bean-to-bar factory — take a backseat to togarashi, the seven-spice Japanese blend of nori, orange peel, chili pepper, orange rind, and more.

Click to enlarge photo

Matt Kettmann

“Unique flavors done well,” says Twenty-Four Blackbirds founder Mike Orlando of his new truffle offerings. “I want a curated list of things that are really delicious.”

The togarashi is but one of about a dozen truffle flavors to buy at Orlando’s first-ever retail shop on East Haley Street; the Pink Peppercorn & Licorice Salt is another eye-opener, and the Rosemary Caramel finds a beautiful balance with that piney herb. There are also all five of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds chocolate bars to try on the back wall, so see if you agree with Orlando’s tasting notes on bars from Madagascar, Bolivia, Ecuador, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic.

Orlando started importing beans and making chocolate in Santa Barbara eight years ago, which makes Twenty-Four Blackbirds one of the very first craft chocolate makers in the United States — today, there are more than 300. “We were one of the first people to do it,” said Orlando, who currently sells to nearly 400 retailers in the U.S. and another 100 in Tokyo. “We lucked into the timing of craft chocolate.”

In the meantime, he’s expanded into this 3,000-square-foot factory, which he designed and built over the past 18 months, and started making truffles, which also makes him a chocolatier as well as a chocolate-maker, which was a constant source of confusion before. “Now I’m both,” he said. “I don’t have to correct anybody.”

Open Thu.-Sun., noon-7pm; 428 E. Haley St.;

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Montecito Pushes Back on Streamlined Rebuild Process

Not so fast with fast-track rebuilding, leaders tell the county

St. George Files Suit Against Gelb for Unpaid Debt

Pair of Isla Vista landlords in legal tussle over property sales costs.

Thousands of Plaintiffs Added to Refugio Oil Spill Case

Litigation follows footsteps of 1969 Union Oil spill attorneys.

Push Comes to Shove Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health

County supervisors confront too many needs with not enough money.

Helicopter Hits Electrical Wires, Starts Small Fire

A crop duster hit power lines in Ellwood Canyon.