Tours to 'demystify' craft chocolate

 The chocolate making process.
The chocolate making process.PHOTOS: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Back in January, 1979, Cadbury Schweppes Hudson opened the doors of its Dunedin factory to the public. Four decades on, another chocolate maker in the city is preparing to do the same.

Ocho marketing manager Anna McDonald (left) and general manager Liz Rowe are preparing for tours...
Ocho marketing manager Anna McDonald (left) and general manager Liz Rowe are preparing for tours of the Roberts St chocolate factory. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Otago Chocolate Company (Ocho) is launching factory tours next month at its new chocolate production premises in Roberts St.

They begin on March 5, when some former Cadbury staff are invited to take a look, and the first public tours will begin from March 9.

General manager Liz Rowe hoped it would "demystify'' craft chocolate, showing where the ingredients came from and how they were processed and crafted into bars.

Looking through windows in a cleverly-designed octagonal space, with the original floorboards dating back from the building's early days as a timber mill, tour-goers could watch the Ocho team roast, grind, temper and wrap chocolate.

It was a very hands-on process with a person in charge of "every step along the way''.

The bars were all hand-wrapped which, while a labour intensive and time-consuming process, reflected the premium quality product being produced, Ms Rowe said.

After the tour, they could then taste the difference between cacao from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Many people did not have a clue about the origins of chocolate and how it came from a plant.

Video footage, filmed by Ms Rowe, which showed the growers and where the beans came from, would be screened.

Ocho bought the Roberts St building last year while continuing to operate its cafe and retail operation in Vogel St.

"This was always the point of doing this development ... to make a space where we could show people what we are doing - demystify the whole chocolate process,'' Ms Rowe said.

"Dunedin is the home of chocolate, as far as we're concerned.

"It was a real shame that Cadbury closed down - I think the whole city agrees with that - but we're picking up from a different starting point.

"We're not trying to be Cadbury [but] we are making chocolate in Dunedin,'' she said.

Bookings were being taken for the tour and tastings and were scheduled from Tuesday to Saturday, at 11am and 2pm. They were not recommended for younger children.

Ocho was preparing to launch a milk chocolate which would be available in time for Easter.


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