Chocolate and espresso funding college dreams

Peter Crabtree, 18, has fully funded his first year of college tuition from scholarships. - Kelly Joines/Staff Photo
Peter Crabtree, 18, has fully funded his first year of college tuition from scholarships.
— image credit: Kelly Joines/Staff Photo

POULSBO —?Peter Crabtree knew from a young age if he wanted money he had to work for it. And work for it he has, combining two of America’s deepest passions: chocolate and espresso.

Crabtree, 18, owner of CBC’s Chocolates and Espresso in Poulsbo, just returned from Washington, D.C., Thursday evening with another $10,000 scholarship to add to his collection.

Crabtree beat out 8,400 contestants nationwide for the title of Young Entrepreneur of the Year from the National Federation of Independent Business and Visa Inc.

This comes after receiving a $40,000 scholarship from the McKelvey Foundation, which honors young entrepreneurs who have started their own business.

Crabtree said he will receive $10,000 of the McKelvey award each college year.

Through his already established business sense, Crabtree earned enough in scholarships to completely fund his first year at Seattle University, where he will study — surprise — business.

The West Sound Academy senior started his chocolate company when he was only 15 years old.

“Good things come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle,” he said with a laugh. It’s the motto he lives by.

Crabtree, who grew up on the family ranch in Kingston said he chose chocolate because he saw a “lot of potential in the product.”

“Chocolate can be made on any scale,” he said.

He got his start by borrowing local kitchens to hone his chocolate recipes and develop trade secrets, often staying up late after high school creating his products.

“Growing up on a ranch you learn the value of hard work,” he said.

Borrowing kitchens only lasted so long, until he put $10,000 down to obtain the essentials for his own kitchen.

How he acquired the necessary funding: cows.

Growing up on the ranch he raised, sold and showed regulation black angus cows. He even got a scholarship for that too — $1,000 John Chittenden Award from the Kitsap County Fair Board.

“I never got an allowance. Any money I wanted I had to work for it,” he said.

Balancing homework and the social life of high school while owning a business proves to be a continuing struggle.

“I have a lot on my plate,” he said. “There are a lot of different balls I keep in the air at the same time.”

But he hasn’t dropped any yet.

In fact, he keeps adding them with his recently introduced Brew and Wine Series chocolates and patent-pending products, including a chocolate melting machine he designed with his brother, a civil engineering graduate from the U.S. Military Academy West Point.

“My favorite right now is the Brew Series with the Fat Scotch Ale from Silver City Brewery,” he said.

For his Wine Series, Crabtree uses vino from the Eleven Winery on Bainbridge Island.

“I like to use a lot of local products,” he said.

Crabtree will continue working at his business while attending college but said he will most likely hire a manager.

Currently he is one of the youngest working at CBC’s. His employees range in age from 17 to 48.

Although Crabtree is still young compared to most business owners, he’s got big aspirations for his chocolate factory. It would make even Willy Wonka proud.

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