Last week I was lucky enough to visit Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker (www.scharffenberger.com) in Berkeley, California. Make a note to look for their stuff at natural groceries and fine cooking stores—they make excellent chocolate and were the first company I know of to produce cacao nibs, the hot “new” antioxidant-rich superfood.
Scharffen Berger approaches chocolate the way other artisan producers approach wine, blending cacao from regions all over the world until they get the flavor they’re looking for—”bean to bar,” as they say, and all made in small batches in their little red-brick factory. They’re also committed to organic and fair-trade practices (they’re based in Berkeley, after all), although they don’t label their products as such; for them, it’s about integrity—paying a fair wage, protecting the Earth—rather than regulation. Recently, Scharffen Berger was sold to The Hershey Company, which also bought Dagoba, an organic chocolate maker based in Oregon, so it’ll be interesting to see if their worldly ideals translate upward.
Check out Emily Stone’s interview with John Scharffenberger on the Chocolate in Context blog.