We can hardly keep up with the ‘bean to bar’ chocolate shop/café trend. The latest one to open is Dandelion Chocolate, an import from San Francisco that's found a home in Tokyo's Kuramae neighbourhood, an area known for its old-school restaurants and arty shops (read our guide to the area here).
What exactly is 'bean to bar'? Essentially, it means that every part of the chocolate product you buy is made inhouse. So Dandelion Chocolate comes equipped with a cacao bean storage room and some impressive-looking choc-making machinery. Although to begin with they are importing their chocolate from San Francisco, they will be in full bean-to-bar mode come spring.
Their chocolate is made using only cacao and cane sugar, and they sell a variety of treats including cookies and hot chocolate. They're also planning to offer factory tours and workshops from March. We went along to try out one of their preview classes and can assure you there is plenty of chocolate tasting every step of the way – from raw bean to sugar to finished bar.
It ended with a taste test to see who could figure out what percentage of cacao was in each bar. It also gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, including selecting the right beans, roasting them, removing their skins, grinding them into cacao nibs, combining them with sugar, and tempering the finished bars so they don’t melt too easily.
If you prefer to just sit back and enjoy the chocolate high, take a seat at the café and order the rich European Hot Chocolate and the Brownie Bite Flight, which consists of three varieties of brownies made with different cacao beans. YUM.