Bandon’s Coastal Mist is Chocolate Heaven

December 5, 2014 (Updated December 17, 2014)

Coastal Mist chocolate boutique in Bandon is a treasure trove of beautiful and delicious treats. On a given day, the glass case holds two dozen of 132 different types of handmade chocolates as well as caramel bars, pralines, and dragées (chocolate-covered or candied almonds, dried cranberries, espresso beans, pecans, hazelnuts and the like). The list of handcrafted desserts — like caramel apple tart, brûléed walnut petite gateau and handmade cinnamon marshmallow with a salt caramel center — changes often and stuns the imagination. And customers can ponder a list of nine different drinking chocolates and drinking caramels.

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Kevin Shaw, co-owner of this chocolate haven, will tell you he never meant to open a sweets boutique. With decades of chef experience between them, he and his wife, Tara, just wanted to live in a nice small town on the Oregon Coast. Both were working in Portland but spending more and more time in Bandon visiting relatives.

“We finally said, ‘We love being here. Is there a way to do what we do in this town?’”

They moved to Bandon, bought a house, built a small commercial kitchen and began a wholesale business selling desserts and breads to restaurants from Coos Bay to Brookings. One night at a local networking event, Shaw brought along some chocolates that he had made, and people loved them. “People freaked out,” he says. “They said you have got to open a shop.”

In a leap of faith, the Shaws rented a tiny space in downtown Bandon in 2009. “It was the size of a walk-in closet,” Shaw says. They outgrew the space in six months and got the owner’s permission to move a wall. Business continued to grow, and then a spot opened in Bandon’s Old Town, where you can find Coastal Mist today.

The Shaws and their partner, Nicole Malloy, offer artisan chocolates, European-style desserts and pastries, gourmet sandwiches and artisan breads as well as drinking chocolates and drinking caramels. “Coastal Mist is my dream,” Shaw says. “There is rarely a place that does all these things. To me it’s honoring everything that I have spent a lifetime learning.”

When asked to recommend a favorite, Shaw hesitates. “Nothing gets into the case without my thumbs up,” he says. But he will say don’t miss the cannoli, the brazil nut caramel or the chocolate treasure (European-style chocolate caramel with sugar roasted almonds and a shot of Mexican vanilla in a dark chocolate shell).

Customers can also enjoy a flight of drinking chocolates and caramels (choose three of nine) for $7.50. For something truly memorable, you can schedule a “Chocolate and Vanilla Experience,” which includes a drinking flight, a tasting of three single-origin vanillas, a couple of small desserts and some confections (a minimum of eight people is usually required for this and the cost is $25 per person). Coastal Mist will even bring the event to your vacation rental. Outside of Bandon, you can get a taste of Coastal Mist through its chocolate of the month and holiday specials clubs.

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Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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