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COVID-19 good news series for Tonkon Torp Client Briar Handmade

Sense of Place – The Face Rock Terroir

Cheese Education – Orange Cheddar V White Cheddar

Oh Baby! Briar Baby Puts Baby Bonnets on Hold to Produce High-Quality Face Masks

Briar Baby had no need to take baby steps when it came to their COVID-19 response. The Vancouver-based company is one of Tonkon Torp’s entrepreneurial clients, and is best known for its modern approach to handmade baby bonnets. The team took advantage of their nimble size to make a swift pivot from bonnets to mask production as the pandemic began its rapid spread in early April. The move allowed the company to contribute in a tangible way to hard-hit communities while also keeping their 10-person production team employed and working in a safe environment.

Briar used its expertise to design high-quality cotton tie-on masks for adults and children with the smallest detail in mind, such as making sure to offer bright and fun prints that are less scary for kids who are navigating as many uncertainties as adults.

The “Briar Mask” launched alongside a charitable matching program. Through May 26, the company matched every purchased mask with a donated mask for healthcare and essential workers. The effort placed over 3,000 masks with nurses, doctors, EMT’s and essential workers at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities located across the U.S., and especially in hard-hit areas like Chicago, NYC, and Los Angeles. The Briar Mask and donation program received a coveted national nod by marthastewart.com and related social channels.

“Briar’s mask program is such a great example of company size having little to do with the ability to make a meaningful impact during the pandemic,” said attorney Tyler Harkness, who serves as the firm’s lead counsel for Briar Baby. “They are organized and lean, and I’m so impressed with how fast they joined the ranks of entrepreneurs who have deployed solutions and support in the past several months.”

Briar has redirected their charitable matching to Baby2Baby, an organization that provides underserved families across the country with necessities such as diapers, formula, clothing, food and other supplies. For every mask purchased, a $5 donation is made to Baby2Baby.

Speaking about their mask making and donation program, Founder Rachel Goode said, “We’re always up for a challenge and I’m so proud of our team for jumping in with us! We’re proud to have sent thousands of masks to our vital frontline workers, and we’re equally proud to help alleviate the suffering of children and families who are experiencing the devastating effects of COVID-19.”

Learn more about Briar Baby’s mask and donation program here.

The Face Rock Terroir


Face Rock Creamery’s distinctive flavor is the result of many environmental factors.

Terroir is used to describe the flavor of a particular land, area, and climate, unique to itself. Most of us associate terroir with wine, but it infuses all foods produced in a specific region.

Great cheese starts with great milk. And the best milk is produced by cows that live in a particular kind of climate. Bandon is located on the Southern Oregon Coast, in the “Banana Belt” of Oregon, which provides a warm and temperate climate all year round with plenty of sun and lots of rain.  This is perfect weather for growing grass, and raising cows! Just inland from Bandon, about 15 miles east as the crow flies, is the lush and fertile Coquille River Valley. This valley has been supporting dairy herds for hundreds of years and has some of the richest dairy land in the country.

The Valley is defined by the meandering Coquille River, which moves slowly through the valley, depositing minerals and nutrients in the soil.  The river gives the Valley its unique character. The dramatic Pacific ocean storms also play a part, pushing wind whipped up through salty waves inland that is then dropped as haze and rain onto the pastures grazed by dairy cows.

All this combines to define the Coquille terroir. According to our cheesemaker Brad Sinko, who has been making cheese in the area for decades, milk from the Coquille area has a unique taste, and is instantly distinguishable flavor, making it recognizable from all other dairy areas. This signature flavor comes through in any products made with this rich dairy, like Face Rock cheese!

Set yourself up with a side by side tasting with cheeses produced in different regions in the U.S. or even between different countries to see if you can taste the difference in terroir. We recommend using small-batch artisan cheese for this, since mass-produced cheese often uses homogenized milk.

Orange cheddar vs White Cheddar


Why is most cheddar orange? How is White Cheddar different?

In its natural state, all cheese presents shades of white to creamy yellow. So what’s the deal with the bright orange hue most of us associate with America’s most popular cheese? In a word, tradition.

Cheddar that is marketed as “white cheddar” is simply cheddar in its natural state. When you look at cross sections of undyed cheddar blocks, especially those made from grass-fed cow’s milk, you will notice a range in the creamy hues. This is due to changing levels of beta-carotene in grass and feed throughout the year, and how much cream is left in the milk during production.

Cheddar the cheese has its roots in Cheddar the village, located in Somerset, England. Milk, or more specifically cream, produced by the herds grazing on the region’s beta-carotene rich pastures created cheese with a distinctive yellowish creamy hue. And so, cheddar cheese became known as much for its color as taste.

But why is it orange today?  Call it early visual branding. By the 1600s, farmers were skimming off the rich yellow cream into more profitable butter production, leaving them with a more starkly white cheddar. Aside from this, seasonal fluctuation in grass and feed nutrients caused variation in the milk color. To maintain the visual recognition-factor of their regional cheese, cheesemakers began to add dying agents like carrot juice, saffron and marigold.

The trend of orange-hued cheddars hopped the Atlantic with early American settlers. Over time, and with the advent of chemical dyes like Yellow No. 5, the hallmark cheddar tint eventually skewed all the way to the bright orange commonly found in mass produced cheese today. Today, many manufacturers who dye their cheddar use the naturally-sourced annatto. And as consumers have become more vocal about wanting dye-free foods, mass produced “white” cheddar is on trend.

We chose from the beginning to leave our hand-crafted cheddar natural. Aside from our no-added-chemical commitment, our primary milk source is a grass-fed dairy. We enjoy seeing how the creamy hue of our cheddar shifts with the seasons and we know our fans feel the same.

Next time you are on a grocery run, keep in mind that there is not a cow on the planet who produces bright orange milk!