Sometimes jobs are hard. Sometimes you have to go to Dogpatch to check out Dandelion Chocolate, a real-life chocolate factory, to smell, sample, and ogle handcrafted artisan chocolate. Sounds tough, we know, but luckily co-founder Todd Masonis was there to walk us through Dandelion's process, from roasting the cacao beans to wrapping the bars, and of course tasting the delicious finished product.
Companies that make chocolate this way, starting with imported beans from small-batch farms and finishing with a bar that boasts of its origins, are known as "bean to bar" operations, and are becoming a trend in the world of artisanal chocolate.
Dandelion, however, stands out in an industry where nearly every other chocolate-maker adds other ingredients to its chocolate (soy lecithin, vanilla, cocoa butter, dairy, spices, etc) — Dandelion only adds sugar to its bars. Not only is the minimalist approach unique, it also creates an exceptional product.
And as Todd will tell you, his quest to create this pure, unadulterated chocolate has not been easy. He spoke of tempering machines that wouldn't cooperate with Dandelion's simple recipe, backed-up orders, a bar-wrapping machine that was too big for the doorway. But no deterrent could keep Masonis from his goal of providing the public with his product.
Dandelion is close to finishing its new factory on Valencia in the Mission, set to open mid-October. The new space will serve as an additional production facility and a café/chocolate-lover's sanctuary.
Until it's complete, chocoholics can take comfort in knowing that Dandelion's Dogpatch factory is still supplying single-origin bars to select Bay Area vendors like Four Barrel Coffee, Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery, and the Candy Store. And if you are keen to get a glimpse of where it all started and learn from the pros, you can sign up for Dandelion's Chocolate 101 classes (next one is Oct. 3), where sampling, smelling, and ogling isn't only encouraged — it's required.