Monday, July 7, 2008

Bunny goes to Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory

The Scharffen Berger Factory is one of the top ten happiest places in my existence. Located in Berkeley on Seventh street and Heinz, it includes a chocolate factory (duh), a gift shop, and Cafe Cacao, a cozy little cafe with free WiFi with awesome (though expensive) goodies and a slightly tart mocha made with their very own chocolate. Click here for a link to their website.When the factory is actually making chocolate, it smells amazing. It reminds of the scene when Charlie Bucket has to walk past Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and always stops to take huge deep breaths of the rich, warm, wet smell.
They offer several tours just about everyday, but you need to call ahead and make a reservation. They require close toed shoes, for safety reasons. The tour is about an hour long and includes a sit down portion as they go through the chocolate making process and an actual walk through the factory. For those who aren't too happy about classrooms, four pieces of chocolate are distributed at specific points during the tour are ample incentive. I went on the tour twice and some of the chocolate pieces changed, but you can try any piece of chocolate in the shop. Just ask, they have samples.
The first picture is of the cacao beans at various point of the refining process. The first are the beans after they have been fermented. The second is after they have been roasted. The other husks come off when you squeeze them. *crunch* *crunch* And the third tray is after the husk has been removed by the winnower. These little guys are called nibs and look like broken up pieces of walnut, but beware, they are horribly bitter. :(
One of the byproducts is cocoa butter, which doesn't have butter in it at all, but it feels wonderful on the skin. Scharffen Berger chocolate is made up of cacao beans, sugar, vanilla, and some sort of emulsifier. The flavors of cranberries and etc come from the actual cacao. The factory is divided into two rooms. The first contain the roaster (pictured on left) and the winnower. There are actually two roasters and the one pictured is the same kind that Pete's Coffee uses. And on the right, is the the winnower, which sounds a little like widower. It looks like a scary machine. All around are what looks like trashcans, the big kind that you drag to the curbside once a week, but they're filled with cacao beans or nibs.
The second rooms contains the melanger, the conches, and the molding line. The first picture on the left is the melanger, which uses a huge grinding stone to mash the roasted and huskless beans in a paste. The conch, a machine with hundreds of rotating blades, further refines it. Somewhere in that room is when the chocolate is tempered, I've forgotten exactly what machine does it, but if you go on the tour you can go tell me.
Finally, there is the assembly line. The hair nets the people in the picture are wearing are another safety precaution. A gentleman on the left is also wearing a beard net. This is just a heads up.
After reading this, if the tour guide asks any questions, you can answer like a real pro!

A Cheerful Goth Bunny

1 comment:

Tawny said...

what?! not fair. i want to go
but your blog post seemed delicious