If you love chocolate, enjoy learning how things are made, and find yourself in Seattle, then the Theo Chocolate tour is just for you. Theo Chocolate is a Seattle-based company that currently sells its chocolate in all 50 states. They make your typical milk and dark chocolate bars, but they also make unique chocolate bars that have crazy flavors including coconut curry and ghost chili. Everything is made and packaged in their small factory located in the Fremont neighborhood and seven days a week the staff gives anyone and everyone an incredible tour of their factory.
The Theo Chocolate tour starts off in a room where your tour guide tells you all about how the chocolate is made and what makes Theo Chocolate different. Theo Choclate is the country’s first USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade chocolate company (since opening up shop, a few other chocolate companies have received tehse certifications as well. Today, Theo Chocolate is also Non-GMO Project certified.
Having these certifications is not easy. Theo Chocolate must take many, many, many extra steps (and pay lots of money). Since I work for an eco-friendly company, I understand and respect Theo Chocolate’s dedication to their product, customers and the environment. After the snapshot of Theo Chocolate, the tour continues into the factory. The tour guide tells you all about the cocoa fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) and the cocoa beans that are found inside the fruit. The cocoa beans are what’s used to make chocolate. Similar to coffee beans, the taste of the cocoa beans varies depending on where the fruit is grown.
Once the beans arrive in Seattle (mostly from farms located around the equator), Theo Chocolate’s chocolate-making-experts get to work. The beans are first roasted and then milled which turns them into a liquid. Once the beans are a liquid, they add all the different flavors. This includes fruit, nuts, chilies, spices, bread and salt.
Next, you head into the kitchen. This is where all the caramels and confections are made. Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, we watched one cook make chocolate hearts filled with a cherry bourbon caramel, while another cook was roasting coconut flakes to go into a different chocolate bar. One of the best parts of the tour was seeing how much fun the employees at Theo Chocolate have. Everyone in the kitchen was laughing and smiling and having a great time. After the kitchen, you get to see where Theo Chocolate molds the chocolate bars and packages everything up.
The Theo Chocolate tours are offered several times a day. You can call ahead or make a reservation online. Or, you can o what Tim and I did and just show up. The tours cost $14 a person, which we fell is well worth the price. Not only do you learn so much about Theo Chocolate and the process of making chocolate, but you also get to try a lot of chocolate through the whole tour (which was probably my favorite part). The tour ends in the retail show (where you get a 10% discount on your purchases for going on the tour). Of course, I insisted Tim and I buy all the great chocolate we had just tasted and watched being made. the money was well spent though. I’m still enjoying our purchases today!
Have you ever taken the Theo Chocolate tour? Have you ever tried their chocolate? What did you think? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more on great things to do in the city!