If there is one constant to Valentine’s Day, it might as well be chocolate. Significant others come and go, but that box of chocolate will never let you down. Many of the big players in the sweet stuff are on full display. However, if you have grown tired of your standard chocolate bars, you can always seek out the smaller batches, the outfits across the country producing bean to bar chocolate. Presenting a fine way to get to know the chocolate making process and to satisfy a sweet tooth or two, here are a few artisan chocolate tours to sample across the U.S.
Theo Chocolate: You can begin your small batch chocolate tour of the country at Theo Chocolate. Located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, this chocolate maker takes pride in being the first Organic and Fair Trade fair for Life Bean to Bar Chocolate Factory in North America. Theo Chocolate has been churning out high quality chocolate from the world’s best cocoa beans since 2006. Tours of the chocolate factory run seven days a week. Visitors walk through the facilities and also learn about the social and environmental issues plaguing cocoa farmers. While you must wear closed toed shoes and pay a hefty $10 per person, the one-hour tour doesn’t leave you empty-handed. Visitors are rewarded with a Theo chocolate bar.
Askinosie Chocolate: When you think of artisan chocolate, Missouri might not come to mind but it quickly will after a visit to Askinosie. Located in Springfield, Askinosie Chocolate source and import beans directly from the farmers. Started by a criminal defense lawyer, the chocolate factory provides tours of how the bean to bar chocolate comes to be. Of course, guests can sample chocolate throughout the tour with bites providing tastes of the different stages of the chocolate making process. The factory is also its own eye candy. Askinosie occupies a former carriage factory from 1894. Tours cost $5 for adults and $4 for children. You can go on a tour every Tuesday at 3PM.
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate: Set up in an old grocery store from 1890, Olive and Sinclair Chocolate produce a decidedly southern style of chocolate in Nashville, Tennessee. As the first bean to bar chocolate makers in the state, Olive and Sinclair Chocolate approach the process by slow roasting and stone grinding beans in small batches. Single origin beans are combined with pure brown sugar for a certain Southern edge. Tours of the factory walk through the process of making bean to bar chocolate, all while showing off the company’s antique stone mills. Plenty of samples are offered along the way. You can catch a tour on Saturday’s from 10AM to 5PM on the hour for $5 a person.
Mast Brothers Chocolate: One of the bigger names in small batch chocolate making, Mast Brothers Chocolate boasts foundations in 2007. The company sources cocoa beans from around the world and roasts and grinds the beans in small batches. The end result is truly handmade chocolates. Mast Brothers began in Brooklyn and you can still take a tour of its flagship facility. Even if you can’t make it for one of the daily tours, you can sample Mast Brothers Chocolate in over 500 locations around the world.