Join us and 90 other craft makers from 26 countries for the Craft Chocolate Experience March 6-8 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Our new chocolate factory at 16th and Alabama in SF is now open daily from 8am - 8pm. Drop in to see our working chocolate factory, enjoy a drink or pastry in our café, or visit Bloom salon.
Classes and tours: Join us for a guided tour of our factory, or sign up for classes to learn more about chocolate making, tasting, ingredients, or sourcing.
Bloom chocolate salon: Located inside the 16th Street Factory, Bloom is available for walk-ins and reservations. Join us for sweet and savory breakfast or afternoon tea (and chocolate!) service.
Valentines Day at the factory saw sparks flying (literally). As cute couples held hands over cups of hot chocolate and made clever cards, our oldest melanger decided it needed some love too. Caitlin was emptying a batch of Dominican Republic chocolate when the base of the melanger came loose, pulling wires with it which then sent sparks her way! Thankfully, no one was hurt and the melanger should be up and running on Monday.
Apparently our Big Selmi was jealous so it decided to get in on the action. In the middle of our morning tempering round, the temperer refused to work until it received more love (and a new part that won’t arrive until Monday). Luckily, Greg and Cam came to the rescue. Above, Greg takes a break from fixing Selmi.
We all came back from the holidays refreshed, and it’s a good thing. We’ve been busy over the past few weeks. We celebrated our space with friends, family, neighbors, and a group of amazing chocolate makers. Cam’s worked hard to whip our machines into shape and increase our production. Todd, Brian, Phil, and our cafe team opened our cafe! There have been many milestones and plenty of reasons to celebrate. Thank you to everyone who helped and supported us over the past few weeks.
Now, we’re ready for the next holiday. And, it’s a chocolatey one! Because of the production team’s hard work and a few process improvements, we were able to open our online store last week. We hoped to get it up and running in time to help you send your Valentine a delicious chocolate treat. And, we’re happy to announce that we did. If you’d like your order to arrive by February 14th, please order by this Saturday, February 9th.
Also, we’ll be out at the Mission Community Market this Thursday, celebrating Valentine’s a little early ourselves. We’d love to be there every week, but we need to increase our production before we have the bars to sell. But, we’ll be there this Thursday, February 7th, from 4 PM – 8 PM, on Bartlett Street and 22nd Street. Come say hello!
We thought we were done with our temperer problems when we fixed the compressor thermal overload protector near the end of December. Boy were we wrong. The tempering machine, a Selmi Top, worked for all of two and half days before it stopped pumping chocolate out of its top nozzle. At first, we thought maybe there was just a chocolate blockage in some of its internal pipes, so we tried disassembling the machine a bit and cleaning everything out. Unfortunately, that didn’t resolve the problem and we had to start using our smaller, back up tempering machine which really hurt our production.
After verifying a few simple things (no blockage, motor spinning the right direction), we disassembled the machine a bit more and looked more close at the different parts. Here’s the auger (thank you, Archimedes!) that drives the chocolate up the column and, ultimately, out of the nozzle:
We couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with the auger and we were starting to get pretty confused. That’s when we noticed some suspicious marks near the bottom but we weren’t sure what they meant:
Fortunately, we’d been talking with Sean at Tomric (the US representative for Selmi) and he was hugely helpful. He forwarded our pictures on to Italy where one of Selmi’s engineer recognized those marks as a broken weld. Apparently, the screw is held to the center shaft by a single weld and that weld had broken, allowing the shaft to spin without turning the screw. We quickly found our way to Kevin at Standard Metal Products and he got the auger repaired quickly. After a thorough cleaning and popping it back into the machine, the chocolate was flowing again:
Since we had to use our less efficient machine for a week or two, we’ve fallen behind so now we just need to play a little catch up and make a lot of chocolate!