Sometimes jobs are hard. Sometimes you might have to go to Dogpatch to check out Dandelion Chocolate, a real-life chocolate factory, to smell, sample, and ogle handcrafted artisan chocolate. Sounds tough, I know, but luckily co-founder Todd Masonis will be there to provide moral support and walk you through Dandelion's entire chocolate making process, from the roasting of the cacao beans to the bar wrapping machine to the nibbling of a delicious finished specimen of Venezuelan origins.
Companies that make chocolate this way, starting with imported cacao beans and finishing with a tasty chocolate bar, are known as "bean to bar" operations and are becoming something of a new trend in the world of artisanal chocolate.
Dandelion, however, stands alone in this industry where nearly every other chocolate-maker adds funny stuff to their chocolate (maybe soy lecithin, perhaps some vanilla, or cocoa butter, dairy, spices, etc), Dandelion just adds sugar. That's it. Not only is the minimalist approach unique, but I can tell you firsthand that it also creates an exceptional product.
And as Todd will tell you, his quest to create this pure, unadulterated chocolate has not been easy: tempering machines that won't cooperate with Dandelion's simple recipe, backed up orders to customers, a bar-wrapper that's too big for the doorway. But when the carrot dangling before you happens to be more like a 70% Rio Caribe chocolate bar, there is no deterrent too large to keep Masonis from his goals to provide the public with his pure product.
In fact, Dandelion is expanding and are just about finished building their new factory in the Mission, set to open mid-October. The new space will serve dual purposes as not only an additional production facility, but also as a cafe/chocolate-lover's sanctuary. Until the Mission space is complete, chocoholics can take comfort in knowing that Dandelion's Dogpatch factory is still supplying single origin bars to select Bay Area vendors like Four Barrel Coffee, Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery, and The Candy Store. And if you are keen to get a glimpse of where it all started and learn a thing or too from the pros, you can sign up for Dandelion's semi-frequent Chocolate 101 classes (next open one is Oct. 3), where sampling, smelling, and ogling is encouraged.