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TAZA Chocolate Factory Tour

Led by our GPS, we turn down a street that we believe had no business making chocolate. This industrial area of Somerville, with active construction zones, doesn’t match the idea in my head of what a chocolate factory should look like. But, we continue through our trepidation.

The GPS exclaims that we’ve found our destination, but we don’t see it. Instead, I notice a sign at the entrance to a parking lot – “Parking for Taza Visitors” – with an arrow directing us. Our next mission is to find the factory.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Selfie

Cafeteria ladies might be on our resume soon. 🙂

The building looks rather unassuming. Little did we know, the world headquarters of Taza Chocolate shares a roof with a number of businesses and some converted industrial condo units.

We open the front door to the building and, immediately, we’re bathed in the sweet scent of chocolate. We knew we had found the right place!

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Wicked Dark

The gift shop is bright, colorful and filled with chocolate!

Floating in on the wafts of chocolate in the air, we enter the gift shop entrance. We check in for our tour at the counter and, since we’re a few minutes early, we’re invited to browse the shop and taste a bunch of their samples.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Samples

Free samples – this one is Ligeia’s favorite!

Taza makes chocolate like they do in Mexico. In fact, that’s where the founder learned the recipes. It’s stone ground, rustic and, thankfully, vegan (we cheered when the tour guide mentioned this). Their slogan says, “Chocolate with True Grit” and it couldn’t be more true.

There’s a distinct texture to traditional Mexican chocolate, and if you’ve never had it before, we recommend that you add it your list of things to try. Even though we’ve had the Abuelita brand chocolate before, and we knew not to expect the smoothness of Hershey or Lindt, the flavors of Taza blew us away.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Chocolate

So many flavors!

My favorite of the gift shop samples was the vanilla, whereas Ligeia enjoyed the guajillo chile the best. She handled the tiny square of 95% dark chocolate with ease, but its bitterness was far too much for my taste buds. There were other flavors available for tasting, but the rest of the group had checked in and our tour was about to start.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Wicked Dark

95% is definitely wicked

Our guide for the hour was Krysia, who exuded her passion for chocolate, despite it being the last tour of the day. She sent round after round of chocolate samples to our group, teaching us amazing stuff while we chomped down on deliciousness.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Guide Krysia

Our knowledgable guide, Krysia

Through large flashcards, we learn of the history of the company and how the founders got the idea for the business. We learn the difference between fair trade and the direct trade practices Taza engages in, which ensures all money goes to the cacao farmers, as opposed to splitting a commission to an agency. But most importantly, we learn how Taza makes its unique chocolate.

Fresh cacao fruit from the pod

Fresh cacao fruit from the pod

We had no idea that the cacao fruit grows in a large pod, or that it was even a fruit to begin with! The cacao beans are covered in a white, flesh that Krysia explained “tastes like a mix between white peach and white grape, with a hint of citrus.” We’re now on a mission to find cacao fruit and taste it for ourselves!

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Mural

The process of making Taza chocolate

Krysia quizzed us at each step of the tour, as she described the entire process of their chocolate making. From the week-long fermentation step of the cacao fruit to the roasting of the beans, and from the specific Oaxacan-style stone grinder used to produce the pure chocolate to the small packaging department that wraps all their delicious goods.

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Mindy Cacao Pod

Discovering the secrets of the cacao pod

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Cacao Nibs

Chocolate covered cacao nibs

Taza Chocolate Factory Tour - Roaster

It’s time to roast the beans!

Taza, which gets its name from the Spanish for “cup”, honors the traditional way that chocolate is enjoyed in Mexico. Today, they source their cacao beans from all over Latin America, and each bean apparently has its own unique flavor, based on the conditions where the cacao is grown and fermented.

The Oaxacan style stone grinder pulverizing cacao into pure chocolate

The Oaxacan style stone grinder pulverizing cacao into pure chocolate

This is one of the best tours we’ve ever taken. Not only did we learn a ton, but we got to binge on free chocolate. The next time you find yourself in the Boston area, don’t pass up the chance to head to nearby Somerville and take a tour at the Taza Chocolate factory. The adult fare of $6 won’t break the bank, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to eat that amount in samples anyway.

If you’re not anywhere near Boston, don’t worry. Taza Chocolate is available worldwide through many health and organic supermarkets (Whole Foods carries it!), so you should be able to find it near you.

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7 Responses to TAZA Chocolate Factory Tour

  1. Leah July 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Woohoo! I LOVE chocolate both eating it and learning about how it’s made. I would be so into this tour! I saw some cacao pods growing on trees when I was in Nicaragua, now I wish I could have tasted the fruit!

    • Bounding Over Our Steps July 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      The next time we are in a country that has cacao pods, we will definitely try the fruit too. We’re very curious now. Apparently, some countries make it into juice too. 🙂

  2. Diana Edelman July 5, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    There is no way I could walk into that place without gaining five or more pounds. Holy YUM!

  3. Laura July 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Sounds like a delicious day!

  4. Scott in MD July 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! That strikes me as a wonderful gift to give (and receive.) All the best.

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