Dandelion Chocolate is a small-batch Mission District café and production facility with an intoxicating aroma from Cameron Ring and Todd Masonis, friends who scored sweet resources by selling Plaxo, a company they co-founded.
A clean wood sign guides people beyond Dandelion’s glass front to find educational messaging (and chocolate bars) on shelves. An open kitchen, located beneath exposed rafters and skylights, features a team tempering chocolate and creating chocolate treats to feature on the blackboard menu. During my most recent visit, Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” competed with the sounds of choco-tourists, which are not in short supply.
As soon as customers walk through the door, they face an education-driven display with instructional panels on topics like “How to Taste Chocolate,” “Where Cacao Grows,” and “Chocolate Makers and Chocolatiers.” Ring and Masonis devoted shelves to cocoa nibs, single origin chocolate bars, and whole cacao pods the root ingredient in Dandelion’s premium chocolates.
Bars are the truest expression of Dandelion Chocolate and might include Rio Caribe chocolate from Venezuela, Ambanja from Madagascar, and Elvesia from the Dominican Republic, all 70% chocolate, but boasting wildly different flavor profiles. Clearly, this calls for a variety pack, which Dandelion sells for $20. This chocolate trio allows customers to experience the flavorful variety between regions.
Cacao Fruit Smoothie ($7) “tastes like a mildly tropical lychee” blended with simple syrup and ice.
Frozen Hot Chocolate ($5.25) is a bittersweet, blended drink topped with an airy crown of cocoa nib whipped cream, which staffers dust with still more cocoa. What a great summer treat.
Ginger Lemon Iced Chocolate comes topped with froth and delivers a tangy taste.
Madagascar Iced Chocolate combined Four Barrel cold brew, Madagascar cocoa nibs, mild sweetening, and nutty almond milk. Drink quickly, since ice dilution kicks in soon after delivery.
Based on the amount of boxes that Dandelion has stacked on shelves in the production kitchen, the company clearly has ambitions beyond their four walls
They also have chocolate-fueled signature beverages and a full Four Barrel Coffee program, made with French Press or La Marzocco GB/5. Dandelion has even been known to feature pastry stars as part of Pop-Up Pastry Collaboration with people like Ellie Mueller (Jardiniere), Cristina Arantes (Kika’s Treats) and Amy Brown + Joe Wolf (Marla Bakery). Clearly, Ring and Massonis have found plenty of ways to generate excitement, and while Dandelion Chocolate is no secret, visit anyway.