Business

Buttered up: Loan helps CB’s Nuts expand peanut butter production

Roaster Duane Carroll spreads a fresh batch of peanuts in the CB’s Nuts building off Bond Road. - Brad Camp / For the Herald
Roaster Duane Carroll spreads a fresh batch of peanuts in the CB’s Nuts building off Bond Road.
— image credit: Brad Camp / For the Herald

KINGSTON — In a small warehouse off Bond Road, a grinder is churning out sticky, brown peanut butter — smooth with just a little chunk.

“We call it creamunchy,” said Tami Bowen, who owns CB’s Nuts with her husband, Clark. “It’s in between creamy and crunchy.”

More important to the stores CB’s supplies, the peanut butter is long roasted and shipped fresh, which Tami says eliminates the oily buildup at the bottom of the jar. That was one reason Whole Foods Market recently gave the Kingston nut roasters a $55,000 loan to upgrade their peanut butter equipment.

The new machines, which include a grinder and bottling equipment, will allow CB’s to produce 20 times more peanut butter. With increased production, CB’s has the potential to expand its market beyond Washington and Oregon, and into California.

“It’s pretty big,” Tami said.

Denise Breyley, who scouts locally produced goods for Whole Foods, said CBs consistency and quality “exemplifies the qualities we look for in our Local Producer Loan recipients.

“We are thrilled to be working with them to roll out CB’s PB in Pacific Northwest Whole Foods Markets and beyond,” Breley said.

The loan represents a leap forward for a company that has grown steadily over the last five years. The Bowens began experimenting with nut roasting in 2002 and opened their Bond Road location in 2007. With practice, they perfected a method of vacuum injecting their peanuts with brine then drying them before roasting. This makes the nuts salty on the inside, instead of just the shell.

CB’s now employs a staff of eight and its roasting repertoire includes almonds, walnuts, cashews and pumpkin seeds. Its nuts are available in about 450 northwest stores. Organic peanut butter was a late addition, and up until this spring CB’s produced its butter with a hand-crank grinder in the store’s lobby.

So far the specialty nut niche seems to be recession-safe, Tami said. Sales have been strong.

“We just keep getting bigger,” she said.

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