I had my first taste of Taza Chocolate several years ago and I’ve been enamored of it ever since. It was my first real foray into decadently dark chocolate, sort of like a gateway into the world of bittersweet bliss. I also remember being super excited that the chocolate was made right here in Somerville, especially because the now-booming local food movement was just a baby back then. And when I spotted some Taza at two different stores in San Francisco this year, I knew it was time to finally get down to the factory (561 Windsor St.) to see how the unique chocolates are made.
Taza Chocolate is unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Unlike traditional European chocolate, which is incredibly smooth, Taza makes stone-ground chocolate in the traditional Mexican style, which has a distinctly rougher texture. Taza Chocolate is a bean-to-bar operation, which means it’s handmade, minimally processed and contains few ingredients. The company is also really committed environmental, social and economic causes, which means they use as little packaging as possible, contract Somerville’s Metro Pedal Power to make local deliveries and purchase cacao beans directly from farmers.
When I arrived at Taza on a recent Thursday afternoon, the store was buzzing with fellow tour-goers sampling a variety of chocolates. The store, which is filled with the aroma of dark chocolate, showcases dozens of Taza products including the company’s cacao nibs, Mexicano discs, bars, chocolate-covered nuts and more. There were even collaboration products to purchase, such as MEM Tea (formerly based in Somerville) containing Taza Chocolate, and recipe cards scattered throughout the store with ideas for how to use Taza’s products for cooking and baking.
The nearly hour-long tour was really fun and educational. I enjoyed learning about the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process and of course, sampling some of Taza’s delicious creations. It was very interesting to hear the evolution of the company, from rigging up machines to help perform tasks more efficiently to designing packaging that’s environmentally friendly, it was a great peek inside this Somerville-based business.
If you’ve never been down to the Taza Chocolate factory, I highly recommend a visit. All of the employees were very friendly and helpful and it made me proud to see such a creative, innovative, successful company working in Somerville. The tour is a fun way to spend part of an afternoon and the store is great for browsing (and nibbling)!