Everydayer: America’s 5 Best Chocolate Factory Tours
Charlie may have needed a golden ticket to get into Wonka’s famous chocolate factory, but you don’t need a shiny prize to pop into these cocoa creation destinations. Let your sweet tooth run wild and snag a spot on one of these top chocolate factory tours, each specializing in a different style and method of chocolate making.
Theo, Seattle, Washington
Located in the funky Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Theo was the first chocolate factory in the country to produce a batch of organic chocolate in 2006. The tradition continues today as the factory produces only organic and fair trade bars with flavors like coconut curry, salted almond, and pink peppercorn cherry. Book a one-hour tour (with samples at the end) for $6, available Monday through Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
TCHO, San Francisco, California
The “t” is silent in this chocolate company located on Pier 17 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Despite chocolate bar flavor names like “Nutty” and “Fruity,” you won’t actually find add-ins in these fair-trade bars; the tastes come strictly from how and where the cacao bean was grown, much like wine. Learn more during the free one-hour tour at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to Sunday.
French Broad Chocolate Factory, Asheville, North Carolina
With a new factory that opened in 2012, French Broad Chocolates looks to innovative ways to improve the chocolate making process, including using the power of the sun to roast its Peruvian cacao beans. The $10 factory tour at 2 p.m. on Saturdays includes a stop to the roof to see the parabolic solar roaster, and visitors can relax in the coffee lounge afterwards with a cup of sipping chocolate in flavors like masala chai, cayenne and cinnamon, and pure dark chocolate.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Thanks to its tropical location, Hawai’i is the only state able to grow its own cacao beans. The Original Hawaiian Chocolate company takes advantage of their Kona location by producing truly local chocolate. Visitors can go beyond the factory and see the chocolate farm by reserving a $15 tour at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Friday. On the 6-acre orchard, guests will see the full chocolate lifecycle from the cocoa beans growing on 10-ft trees, to roasting in the Hawaiian sun for 22 to 28 days, to being ground into raw chocolate paste for use in the final confections.
Taza Chocolate, Sommerville, Massachusetts
Boston may be 2,500 miles from Mexico, but that doesn’t stop the founders of Taza Chocolate from making Oaxacan-style chocolate. Founder Alex Whitmore learned how to hand-carve the granite millstones he now uses in the factory that give Taza’s dark chocolate its earthy and strong cacao flavor. See the grinder in action during the 45-minute factory tour, which costs $5 and runs a few times a day from Wednesday to Sunday.