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Jan 28, 2009 10:08 AM

Sharffen Berger

Sad but true. Hershey's is closing Sharffen Berger's factory.

Who else is going to open their chocolate factory doors to the public??

Hope that Hershey's doesn't mess up the good thing that Sharffen Berger started. I doubt that they will be trying anything innovative.

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    1. Wow. That is truly heartbreaking. So very sad.

      1. Why does this remind me of the huge renovation of the top floor of Marshall Field's Frango factory ($9M+) which was shut down to transfer production to Pennsylvania, thereby changing the Frango Mints to a duller version of their former glory? MF is gone, acquired by Macy's, but the faux frangos remain. I haven't purchased them as gifts since the factory was moved from the State Street store.

        I hope this reduction in quality doesn't happen to Sharffen Berger or Joseph Schmidt.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Caralien

          Honestly, not much of a loss with Joseph Schmidt. I met him once, and he seems like a great guy, but I've never thought much of his chocolate, especially those grotesque truffles. Scharffen Berger was a big deal when it was started, as really the first artisan bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the US, but now there are other people doing it, and doing it better (to my taste).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Ruth, I also share your opinion of Joseph Schmidt truffles. I'm curious what other artisan bean-to-bar chocolate makers you like? I'm really fond of Guittard, and Valhrona, although V is French, not domestic.

            1. re: sairuh

              Scharffen Berger were the pioneers of the artisan chocolate movement in America. They loved their product and the quality showed. Since then, other makers have started to pop up. Some local, some in other areas of the country, but they're out there and they're worth seeking out.

              A quick note for people who mention Charles Chocolate or Rechiutti in the same breath. These are confectioners, who use end product chocolate to craft fine confections. The true chocolatiers, such as Scharffen Berger craft the seeds of the Cacao tree into chocolate, what we now call bean to bar.

              Locally made chocolate:
              TCHO on Pier 17. Well worth looking into.

              Farther out in the world but still great:
              Amano Chocolate in Orem Utah. Fabulous chocolate from former scientists turned insanely good chocolatiers.

              De Vries Chocolate in Denver. I consider this to be the finest chocolate made in the world today

              There's still all this great chocolate out there waiting to be tried. Even if Hershey's are doing bad things to the pioneers, the second generation is even better.

              17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

              Amano Artisan Chocolate
              496 S 1325 W, Orem, UT

              Steven DeVries Chocolate Maker
              3153 Larimer St, Denver, CO

              1. re: LarryW

                Good points. And if Hershey's walks away from the bean sources, those good beans will find a new home with a bean to bar producer who gives a darn.

                Still, it's sad to see the Sharffenberger plant close...I guess it's time to get off my tush and go have one of the tours.

                1. re: LarryW

                  I went into my local purveyor of fine chocolate bars at lunch and refreshed my memory on American artisan bean-to-bar chocolate makers. My current favorite is Escazu ( -- I'm not sure if all their chocolates are bean-to-bar, but their single origin bars are.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I'd love to try Escazu. Where are they available locally?

                    I've also read about a bean-to-bar producer in Somerville, Massachusetts called Tazo, so I'm trying to scope out where they might be carried locally.

                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                      I get the Escazu at Fog City News. I don't know if they have Tazo, but you should ask.

                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                        It's Taza and I'm addicted. Fortunately, my organic food delivery service includes their products so I can add them to my delivery orders.

                        They are organic and very environmentally responsible. Their products are more natural and less refined in taste and texture. I enjoy experimenting with their chocolate as a new part of my savory palate.

                        They just came out with a Mexican chocolate with Guajillo Chili. Just wonderful! Here's the info on that one.


                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Hi Ruth.
                        I'm the owner and chocolate maker of Escazu and EZCA Chocolates. Thanks so much for the kind words. Adam at Fog City has been great in helping to promote small, craft chocolate makers like us, even landing me a review in Wine Spectator. Its a really exciting time in chocolate right now, as regional artisans reclaim the industry from old giants!

                        1. re: Hallot Parson

                          Yeah, Adam is very passionate about promoting small chocolate makers (or at least, their chocolate). My favorite bar, btw, is the Dark Chocolate with roasted pumpkin seeds and Guajillo Chili. Lots of people are doing some combination of chocolate and chile, but I find this one to be particularly well-done, and the pumpkin seeds are a unique touch.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Have to agree that there are more people doing it now and better(to my taste). But they were an inovative and important company. However I felt it was over for them when Hersey bought them out. I perfer (try) to to give my money to the new generation of Sharffen Bergers and to to a big corperation. Idealistic perhaps but usually quite tasty.

                    2. re: sairuh

                      Blanxart chocolate- a artisan chocolate maker from spain. the organic dark chocolate is the best. no question. You can find it at the spanish table in berkeley.

                    3. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I second (or third Ruth). Scharffen Berger was a leader once, but if you want nothing more than a great bar of chocolate, there are plenty of alternatives for any taste. I continued to buy their chocolate after Hershey bought them out because I wanted to support a business that was still at least partly local, and I didn't notice any reduction of the quality. Guess I'll need to find another go-to brand.

                  2. Too bad. The factory tour was a great local field trip for little kids.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Glencora

                      yea . . . about the factory tour.

                      Just called them and they have decided to stop doing the tour. You can now only do a virtual tour of the factory online.

                      Half of the joy of the tour was to leave reeking of chocolate for the rest of the day.

                      But you can still visit their store. . . HOW LAME!! Grrrrrrrr.

                      Call and complain!! (510) 981-4066

                      1. re: BeanBoy

                        They have no reason to do tours now. I will have to go to their store in the factory building one more time, though.

                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                          I wonder how long the bricks of that building will reek of chocolate :D

                    2. I used a lot of their chocolate. No more.

                      Robert is spinning in his grave right now.

                      Ever since Hershey bought them, the quality has been slipping little by little. This was the final straw.

                      I'm very sad now.