Not Martha

Theo Chocolates factory tour

my hand holding a cacoa pod

Earlier this week I took the Theo Chocolate factory tour here in Seattle. The tour was well worth it, nicely paced, packed full of information and with plenty of samples. Shown above is a cacoa pod, about half the size of a usual one, did you know it takes about six of the pods shown to make one chocolate bar?

the smiley bean roaster, he has a very good palette

We were given a thorough tour of the facility, got to see the roast master in action, peeked in the confectionery kitchen, and introduced to their very own Theobroma cacoa tree:

a Theobroma cacoa tree growing in the factory

The factory is fairly small and the tours groups are sized accordingly. So, no matter when you go call ahead to make reservations.

white plastic chocolate bar molds
(The trays used to mold chocolate bars!)

Even though Theo is here in Seattle I didn’t know this: It’s the only certified organic and fair trade bean to bar chocolate factory in the US. They take great care with their products starting with the growers so you can feel ultra virtuous while eating a Big Daddy (peanut butter, caramel and graham cracker, more delicious than you’d even hope for):

layered Big Daddy confection

Between the tour and the samples in their lobby we got to sample most everything they offer. My other favorites were among the fantasy flavor bars: the Chocolate Vanilla bar, the Fig Fennel & Almond, Coconut Curry and Chai. All delicious. I think my favorite plain chocolate bar was the 45% Milk Chocolate bar from the Jane Goodall collection, a super extra virtuous treat.

Ghost chili bar, so spicy, so good

They have a few limited release flavors and this Ghost Chili flavor is my favorite from all their bars. It’s spicy, but not so hot that it obscures the chocolate. Around Halloween these will sport Jack-o-lantern labels.

frozen jars of chocolate cakes

They even sell frozen molten chocolate cakes, in jars! (See my pies in jars and cobbler in jars to get an idea on why I’m so excited just here.)

Note: You will wear a hair net on the tour, and if you are a guy with a beard you will be asked to wear a beard net as well. It’s hilarious, just go with it.

three samples, mint, raspberry and burnt sugar

Samples from the tour (among lots of the chocolate we got to sample). The burnt sugar ganache was my favorite.

beautiful burnt sugar ganache chocolate

So yum.

· comments [22] · 09-17-2010 · categories:food ·

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 clotilde // Sep 17, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Lovely. I adore taking factory tours — any factory, really, but food is especially fascinating, and chocolate’s even better! Thanks for sharing.

  • 2 Alicia // Sep 17, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Thanks for sharing. My mouth is watering now:)

  • 3 Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite // Sep 17, 2010 at 4:56 am

    I took the Theo Chocolate factory tour during IFBC and loved it. What a great company! Thanks for the memories.

  • 4 Cathy // Sep 17, 2010 at 6:30 am

    We tried to go on a tour earlier in the month while visiting Seattle, but sadly didn’t make reservations and didn’t get to go! We still hung out in the lobby and sampled ALL of their chocolates. Definitely on the to-do list for our next trip!

  • 5 Seanna Lea // Sep 17, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Wow. I’m super jealous. It sounds like a delicious tour!

  • 6 Rinaldi // Sep 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Well that all looks delicious. I just did a store location search on there website to find where I can get my hands on some of that. I was in luck too! I wonder what the chances are of one of those stores having The Big Daddy because I am sure it will be my favorite.

  • 7 Nikki // Sep 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I didn’t even know you could do this! Putting it on my bucket list.

  • 8 Renai // Sep 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I could live off of their burnt sugar confections! They also have lavender caramels that I could (and would) eat until I was sick!

  • 9 fert // Sep 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    m, we’re so totally simpatico on everything in this post! i love theo’s (don’t tell them how often i walk in just for the free samples), i love their burnt sugar confection! and i just bought some salted caramel sauce from the woman who makes the cupcakes in jars they sell at theo’s!

  • 10 Jen // Sep 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

    heh, I was once a tourguide at the Cadbury factory in Toronto. They don’t start with beans though so not quite as cool. We had hairnets and beardnets, too, and once there was a surprise batch of green hairnets and red hairnets that we had extra fun with until corporate got weird and asked us not to use them.

  • 11 Monika // Sep 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I’m a chocolate addict, so I would love to go on a tour like this one!

  • 12 Entropy's Bitch // Sep 17, 2010 at 10:53 am

    This makes me regret being allergic to chocolate. Lovely photos, and I’m going to have to sample some anyway. Burnt sugar, indeed. These guys are pretty awesome on the sustainability and fair trade front.

  • 13 tracy // Sep 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

    i’m sooo wishing I picked up some nibs when I went on the tour! My tour guide was like HOPPED up on chocolate. Soo funny!

    I am currently obsessed with their Coconut Curry milk chocolate- did you try it??!!! INSANE.

  • 14 lindsey // Sep 17, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Awesome! I had no idea such a trip was possible. I’ll definitely check it out, and Theo’s chocolate would make excellent gifts for the out of towners.

  • 15 Sarah // Sep 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I love Theo! We took a tour when we were visiting Seattle last year, and I thought it was fantastic. Our tour guide was awesome and the samples were delicious. Plus, it just seems like a really great company. Now I buy Theo chocolates wherever I see them around here (Chicago area).

  • 16 Beth // Sep 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This is one of my favorite things I’ve done in Seattle when visiting!

  • 17 dana // Sep 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Megan, thanks for the perfect bday activity idea for my husband. I think I’ll surprise him with a tour (not till Feb, so plenty of time to plan). I’m much obliged!

  • 18 Tiki // Sep 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    My girlfriends and I did this in lieu of a bridal shower. It was a huge hit! The staff was so great and let us hang out for an hour chatting and tasting. Highly recommended!

  • 19 Missy // Sep 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

    That looks like fun! I would like to do this on my next Seattle visit!

  • 20 Megan // Sep 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I love Theo! I am a So Cal girl, but I went on a tour a couple years back when visiting my good friend. I loved that they were organic and fair trade. And yes, the ghost chocolate is amazing!

  • 21 Courtney Dirks // Sep 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I love Theo! I tried to take the tour once, but it was booked out, so I’m with you on the recommendation to plan in advance! I think I died and went to heaven when I tried their chili caramel…yum! The only thing that would have topped off the experience in their showroom would be white hot chocolate, my personal favorite!

  • 22 Linda Lundy // Dec 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    How do I arrange for a tour?

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