Monday, July 21, 2003

Scharffen Berger Factory Tour

A few months ago I went to the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory for a visit to their shop and a tour. The shop has just about everything you can think of that you would need to make something chocolate-y. There are various kinds of chocolate, cocoa and cacao nibs, but also cookware and speciality items like chocolate molds and chocolate fondue pots, etc. The store welcomes you with a pot of hot chocolate for sampling and some decadent recipes too.

The chocolate tour is really amazing. You are first given a lesson in where chocolate comes from (Venezuela, Ghana, Madagascar, Trinidad, and Papua New Guinea), its chemical properties (you have noticed how it good it makes you feel, right?), how it is harvested and processed. Of course the lesson wouldn't be complete without tasting various types of chocolate (yum!) and then comes the actual factory tour.

The noise level of the machinery is so great that mostly it's just a walk through to show you the machines in action and to smell the unbelievably heady aroma of cocoa beans roasting. The folks at Scharffen Berger are very proud of their equipment and their unique artisan processing of cocoa beans into chocolate. It is comparable to the roasting and blending of coffee or to blending wine. Only so much tastier! If you are planning on being in Berkeley and want to take the tour, you can sign up online or just take a virtual tour and read up on one of the most delicious ingredients ever.