Hand Sourced Beans
Dandelion Chocolate makers travel across the world to source their beans straight from the cocoa farms. Recent trips include the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The beans are brought back to the shop to be processed.
Step One: Sorting
Because cocoa beans are sold by weight, rocks will occasionally find their way into the bags (though because DC works closely with their farmers to provide fair trade practices, this problem is less common than for industrial chocolate makers.) They must also sift out any other debris or cracked beans.
The beans are put in a machine that's essentially a modified coffee bean roaster made to roast the cocoa at a low temperature and speed. It takes 1/2 hour to roast each batch.
Traditionally, beans were thrown in the air to separate the shell from the nib. Dandelion Chocolate uses a special machine that pumps air through the beans until just the nibs (pictured) remain.
The nibs are 100% chocolate, but they must be ground down. The stone rollers in this machine crush the beans for three days with sugar—and only sugar. Unlike most other chocolate companies, Dandelion doesn't add vanillin, chocolate liqueur, or any other ingredients.
Emptying The Melanger
The chocolate needs to be stabilized before it can become bars. This is done in a process called tempering in which the molecules are agitated and cooled. Once stabilized, the chocolate is poured into molds.
Every bar is then hand wrapped in gold foil.
The wrapping paper for the bars is specially silk screened by hand in India. This machine is made to handle the variances in the paper's texture as it wraps the bars.
Finally, each bar is labeled with the provenience of the chocolate.
From Beans To Brownies
The cafe offers a selection of baked goods made by pasty chef Phil Ogiela (all made from the house chocolate of course.) This is a chocolate fudge brownie ($3.50).
The cafe serves a variety of hot chocolates. The Mission (pictured) is a Mexican style hot chocolate prepared with the traditional heavy topping of foam.
Euro Hot Chocolate
This European style hot chocolate is thick in texture and balanced between sweet and bitter. It comes with homemade marshmallows and a madeleine.
Salted Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart
This petite tart utilizes the shop's chocolate to make the rich ganache center.
For warm days, there is an iced hot chocolate available.
The cafe is part of the factory—so you can watch the bean to bar process as enjoy your treat.