On Saturday we reserved a spot on the chocolate factory and tasting tour for French Broad Chocolates. I have to say that it was the absolute best $10 we spent the entire trip. The tour was at the factory about a 10 minute walk from the main downtown area. We got there a little early and they left us endlessly sample all of their different chocolate bars. And that was before the tour even started.
One of the best things about French Broad is the Chocolate mission. They are sustainable bean-to-bar chocolateirs. They meet the buyers, talk to the locals, and use great farming practices for their beans.
Our tour started with a history of chocolate and talked about their mission. They we moved into the factory room. Our tour guide showed up cacao beans and allowed us to try them, raw and unroasted. Then showed us how they were roasted, and how they separated the nibs from the shells. We got to taste every step of the process, and were also tasting other chocolates along the way. We saw how the chocolate is processed through different steps and mixed with the sugar and cacao butter in the melanger. Then we watched the machines that temper the chocolate and putting it into bars. They let us taste their newest chocolate bar, which is made from their own beans they grew from the ground up in Costa Rica. It was probably my favorite of the day!
I finished by tasting a few more flavored chocolates, and ended the tour with buying some. Best news of the day, they are going to be offering an internship within the next 9 months to go to costa rica and grow chocolate. That might just be where I am in 1 year... who knows?
Our tour guide had worked there for a long time so he had TONS of valuable knowledge. The best part was that we really got to have an intimate experience. There were no glass walls or hands off areas. We were touching and interacting right in the factory parts where they make chocolate. It felt extremely personal, and not corporate at all. Plus the chocolates were delicious...