Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory Tour [CLOSED]

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Chocolate Factory Sign Berkeley

Upraised letters on a brick facade signal your arrival at Scharffen Berger's factory.

Scharffen Berger‘s chocolate factory building dates to 1906, the year of the mammoth Bay Area quake. Smartly, the factory was built soundly, surrounded on all sides by a yard-thick brick wall, so it sustained minimal damage.

Our guide passed around several plates of chocolate for us to try during chocolate class.

Chocolate Berkeley

We started with samples of 62% semisweet dark chocolate.

Chocolate Berkeley

A plate of 70% bittersweet dark chocolate samples dialed up the bitterness a bit.

Chocolate Berkeley

Cocoa nibs are over 99% dark chocolate and tasted quite bitter.

Chocolate Berkeley

Scharffen Berger’s milk chocolate is also dark chocolate. The official definition of dark chocolate in the U.S. is chocolate containing at least 35% cacao. Milk chocolate is only required to have 10% cacao to carry the label. Scharffen Berger crafts 41% milk chocolate.

Chocolate Berkeley

A table held all the ingredients that go into chocolate, including vanilla, cocoa butter, sugar, and cacao (ranging from pulp to roasted bean to nib). Milk and nuts are later added, but not on site; the Scharffen Berger factory is nut and dairy free, for allergies’ sake. Chocolate gets sent to a Napa facility, where those ingredients are added, if necessary, then packaged.

Chocolate Berkeley

After beans are cleaned, they feed into a roaster that roasts beans for 45 minutes at 300 degrees max.

Chocolate Berkeley

The winnower cracks beans between steel rollers, separating the remains into nibs and shell. Shells and dust are vacuumed and jettisoned into a chute. Being Berkeley, a local chicken farmer picks up waste for feed.

Chocolate Berkeley

The melangeur (French for mixer) crushes roasted nibs 300 pounds at a time. This process transforms nibs into “cocoa mass,” AKA cocoa butter.

Chocolate Berkeley

The conche contains very dangerous fast-spinning paddles. This machine blends cocoa mass with C&H, a large grain confectioner’s sugar; cocoa butter, the white fat of the bean, which tempers the chocolate; and whole vanilla beans, which cost anywhere from $50 to $700 a pound. The result is smooth, chocolatey liquid.



Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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