Dandelion Chocolate - San Francisco, CA November 26 2012

What a treat to visit the old Dandelion Chocolate factory in the Dogpatch!  We snuck in right before their opening in the Mission to check out the original space.  The tall ceilings and broad windows showcase the gorgeous view from their little chocolate factory nestled in an unassuming building among lofts and offices. Only the aroma of chocolate through the hallways confirmed for us that we were headed in the right direction.  We toured with Alice Nystrom, a long time employee and she gave us the 411:

Dandelion was started by Cameron Ring and Todd Masonis in a friend's garage.  They began with a few bags of beans and just started roasting them up and they got lucky, their first batches were delicious.  

In their factory we learned about their step-by-step process to roast the beans in tiny batches in what looks like a countertop toaster oven.  Then they are ground like peanut butter and mixed and churned with sugar in a conche for a 3-4 days, which refines the cacao particle size and smoothens it.  Then the chocolate goes through a temperer which finalizes the texture, flavor and molecular structure of the chocolate.  Finally the bars are poured into molds and shaken to remove any bubbles.  It takes many days to produce each batch, and each batch yields a small amount of bars.  Each is hand foil wrapped and then put through an old fashioned red machine that wraps it with pretty paper.

Their small batch, “bean-to-bar” chocolate sets them apart from other bars.  Their simple recipes are very pure with 70% cacao and 30% sugar (no additives) so are flavorfully focal on the beans and the texture is resultantly velvety.  Dandelion buys their beans directly from farmers and packages the bars with handmade recycled paper from India’s garment industry, which has been printed with metallic inks in tight unique patterns designed by hand.  Each 2 oz. bar is hand made, molded, packaged and signed.  Check out the three bold flavors and snatch up a half dozen bars to hand out as hostess gifts this holiday season the packaging alone is a treat!