The Taza Chocolate Factory is nestled in Somerville, MA near the Inman Square neighborhood. Alex Whitmore, Taza founder, was inspired to make delicious organic chocolate after a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. He decided to stay in Oaxaca and became an apprentice, learning how to create simply delicious stone ground chocolate.
Fast forward to today, where Taza now has a sizable factory, making delicious stone ground chocolate in traditional Mexican fashion. The Taza tour began in the factory store. Beautiful displays of chocolate, and the companies they share their chocolate bits with, like Q’s nuts, and Mem Tea, both based in Somerville. Before we entered the factory, we learned all about cocoa beans, chocolate, and the history of the Taza chocolate brand. I really appreciated how committed Taza is to organics, sustainability, and the environment. All of their chocolate is sourced by small, fair and direct trade farms. They’re even considerate of their waste! The cocoa bean shells are not wasted, some go to Mem tea, to give their teas a cocoa flavor. They also give some of their shells to a gardening program, because using cocoa shells as mulch makes your garden smell like chocolate!
Then we entered the factory! So first we saw the roaster, and the winnower machines. The roaster machines help to loosen the shell from the cocoa beans. Winnow machines remove the cocoa bean shells, leaving you with cocoa nibs. Next is the grinder. This is where things get traditional. The cocoa nibs are ground into a chocolate liquor using granite millstones, carved by Alex himself. Every now and then the grinding stones get worn down and have to be carved again, but Taza hasn’t had to replace a grinding stone since the opening of the factory in 2006.
So, then the chocolate liquor then needs to be tempered. This process of raising and lowering and raising the temperature of the chocolate to help determine the texture of the chocolate. When tempering is complete, the chocolate is placed into molds, cooled, and send off to the packaging room! Here the chocolate bars, discs, and other products are wrapped and then they’re ready for shipping.
Taza offers tours throughout the week, for only $5 per person! It’s a great deal, for an informative and delicious tour! And don’t worry, there are lots of samples. I have never said no to chocolate in my whole life, but then end of this tour, I was so full of chocolate, I had to deny some of the samples! You will get your fill of chocolate, for sure. All of their chocolate is vegan, organic, gluten free, fair trade deliciousness! Their factory store is home to lots of unique gift sets, chocolate bars, and other beautiful items, some of which, you can only get at the factory store! I know where I’m going the next time I have to shop for that chocolate lover in my life.
Click here to learn more about Taza Chocolate.