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An Interview with Todd and Cam of Dandelion Chocolate

Chocolate is one of my favorite foods and was very excited when Dandelion Chocolate reached out to me to do a Q&A with the owners and give their chocolate a try.  I browsed the website and loved the philosophy of the company.  They are a bean-to-bar (they roast, crack, sort, winnow, grind, conch, and temper small batches of beans and then mold and package each bar by hand) chocolate company located in San Francisco, and are opening a store front later this year.  Read below for my Q&A!

Bio:

Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory opening in the Mission District of San Francisco later this year.

We are opening our workshop out of a lifetime love of chocolate. Our friends often said that given enough time, it seemed inevitable that one of us would open a chocolate factory. They watched as we experimented with growing small cacao plants in our apartments, pan roasted beans in the oven, and ate our way through the many of the chocolate shops of the world.

A little more than a year ago, we decided to share our craft chocolate with our friends and family and have expanded since. Currently, in our small factory in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco, we roast, crack, sort, winnow, grind, conch, and temper small batches of beans and then mold and package each bar by hand. By sourcing high quality beans and carefully crafting tiny batches, we try to bring out the individual flavors and nuances of each bean.

We’re excited to bring artisan bean-to-bar chocolate back to the bay area. Like many, we miss Scharffen Berger now that they moved east to join Hershey’s. We lost our local source for cocoa nibs and some of our favorite bars of dark chocolate. We hope and aspire to take over where others have left off and bring quality, local chocolate back to the area.

NfC:  Why and when did you start your business?

DC:  We started making chocolate about two years ago. We started by just buying some beans and roasting them up. Luckily, our first few batches turned out really well and we didn’t know quite how hard the process of making good chocolate was. It grew very organically, just by us making new machines, buying more beans, visiting farms, and trying to make great chocolate that we wanted to eat. Later, our friends and family convinced us to turn into something bigger.

NfC:  What is the process of making your chocolate?

DC:  We start from the cocoa bean. Before the beans get to us, the farmer will have already farmed the cacao pods, cut them open, fermented the beans in their fruity pulp, and dried them. Once we receive the beans, we first inspect them for anything strange — broken or moldy beans, rocks, twigs, and unfertilized beans. Then we roast them very lightly so we can preserve their inherent flavors. Then we “winnow” them, which essentially means that we take off the shell, leaving us with just cocoa nibs. Then we grind the nibs for three days with sugar under large stone rollers. This step breaks down the nibs, releasing the fat, and develops the flavor. After a few days, once we’ve achieved the taste we are looking for, we temper the chocolate and mold it into bars.

NfC:  What is your best selling item?

DC:  Our 70% Madagascar bar is very popular — it has an incredible, strong fruity flavor even though it only has two ingredients: cocoa beans and sugar. People always ask us how we managed to put the fruit into this bar.

NfC:  Where does one buy your product?

DC:  We sell at a number of stores in the bay area and a few outside of California. You can find them all on our website at: www.dandelionchocolate.com/locations

NfC:  What makes your chocolate different from your competitors?

DC:  We make our chocolate directly from the bean and control each step along the way. In addition, we use only two ingredients in our single-origin tasting bars, meaning that there are no added flavors — just the pure, natural flavor of the bean.

NfC:  When is your chocolate factory and cafe slated to open?

DC:  We are still waiting on some permits, but we are hopefully a few months away. We are still hopeful for a summer / fall opening.

NfC:  Any additions to Dandelion with the factory and cafe opening?

DC:  We are always trying out new beans and finding what we like. We will hopefully have many new origins to try before the store opening.

NfC:  Anything else you would like readers to know about your company?

DC:  We think it’s easy to taste the difference and encourage everyone to try a sample. We go regularly to  farmer’s markets in the bay area — definitely stop by for a free tasting!

Dandelion Chocolate Packaging

Chocolate Bars, Columbia, Ocumare (Venezuela), Sambirano (Madagascar)

Back of chocolate bars-signed by Todd and Cam

After tasting all three, I will agree with Todd and Cam and say that my favorite was the Madagascar bar.  Don’t forget to browse the website for locations near you or to order online!

Thanks Dandelion Chocolate for my new favorite chocolate bars!

Follow them on Facebook HERE and on Twitter HERE.

Stay hungry…

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