Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate 4 W. 4th St., (707) 798-6010. M-F 10am-4pm.
This luxury chocolate-maker offers drop-in tours of its production facility. No appointment necessary. Focusing on quality, they make small batch bean-to-bar chocolate from scratch and specialize in dark chocolate from around the world.
|cacao pod and bean display|
Only 12 tons were produced last year, but the plan is for 18 tons this year. You’ll see burlap bags filled with slowly sun-dried cacao beans from around the world.
Beans are sorted on a conveyer-belt machine,
then roasted 35 pounds at a time in an antique Royal #5 coffee roaster from the early 1900s, which dries and sterilizes them.
|antique Royal #5 coffee roaster|
The flavor and chemicals that make you feel so good are in the nibs.
|bucket of chocolate nibs|
Cocoa butter—which is solid in your hand, but liquid in your mouth or at body temp--is what makes chocolate unique. A grinding ball mill uses ball bearings to turn nibs into paste, and that is followed by more grinding.
|co-owner Adam Dick with grinding ball mill|
The last step in the process is putting the mix into a circular conche,
where it spends 48 hours and comes out liquid. It is then tempered and put into molds, hardened into blocks, and finally foiled and wrapped in envelopes.
A whole array of specialized machines is used, and it takes three weeks to transform from bean to bar. This shop sells their own chocolate bars, of course, but also offers a few items they like from other makers. Since dark chocolate is Dick Taylor’s specialty, and since I am a huge fan of milk chocolate, I wound up seduced by an Omnom dark milk-burned sugar 55% bar from Iceland as my souvenir (I like it). My husband, a dark chocolate lover, plans to buy Dick Taylor bars where he can find them distributed.
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images and video ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers