Michael Golden thought that a candy bar made with the roasty, toasty flavors found in a quality cup of coffee was an intriguing idea.
He just didn’t know how to make one.
“I like coffee, and it just seemed to me that roasted coffee had a similar flavor profile as chocolate, so I began to wonder if it was even possible to make a candy bar using coffee instead of chocolate as the base flavor,” Golden says.
The semi-retired commercial real-estate developer decided to dive headfirst into researching how these bars could be made.
“In the beginning, I just started reading every book I could find on the subject of candy-making and bean-to-bar chocolate-making,” he explains. “I started taking online classes around the science behind candy-making and the culinary arts, and eventually, after experimenting in my home kitchen, I came up with a bar that not only looked right, but tasted great, too.”
Golden's bars are made with 100 percent coffee beans instead of cocoa beans for a unique spin on the classic chocolate bar. Once he perfected the recipe, he began handing out samples to family and friends, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. That’s when he started to think about his coffee bars as a new business, and Flat Cup Confections was born.
He knew he needed help to develop a proper logo and packaging for his new bars, and Golden was able to convince Avila University to take on his new venture as a class project. Then-graphic design student Lexi Chadbourne did all of the logo and packing work for the brand. Golden later worked with another former Avila University student, Mary Sommerhauser, on the creation of his website. “It was a wonderful experience to be able to work with these two talented ladies and Avila University on the marketing pieces I needed to start Flat Cup Confections,” he says. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
He officially launched Flat Cup Confections in November, naming the company because, as he says, the candy bars are like having a “flat cup of coffee.” Starting this operation out of his home, he established a dedicated room (approved by the state of Kansas) that serves as his production facility for his new coffee-bar business.
“My Straight Black coffee bars are made with only four ingredients, so I make sure I use only the best quality,” he says. “My bars are made with organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, fair- or direct-trade coffee and Himalayan salt. That’s it.”
Golden is using coffee from a local coffee roaster to make his bars, but says that could change as his business grows. He may decide to do a signature “roasters” series of bars using coffee from different local coffee roasters, or perhaps take the bars in a similar direction to bean-to-bar chocolatiers and create a single-origin coffee bar series.
For now, Golden says he is focused on getting his bars in retail stores and coffee shops across the metro, as well as developing new flavors. He can see a milk-and-coffee bar in Flat Cup’s future that would taste like coffee and cream.
The shelf life of his coffee bars, much like a bag of coffee beans, must be managed to maintain their freshness. That’s why Golden stamps a “brewed on” date on the back of every candy bar to let customers know to enjoy the bar within a month or so to experience the peak of flavor and freshness.
“As I come out with new flavors, my philosophy will remain the same: I’ll always focus on quality and flavor, not shelf life or cutting costs. It’s a low-tech process that takes a lot of time, but I think it’s worth it,” says Golden.
Currently, you can find Flat Cup's Straight Black coffee bars at both Better Cheddar locations and at The Tasteful Olive in Overland Park. The bars retail for less than $12 for a 3-ounce bar.
Flat Cup Confections, flatcupconfections.com