Williams the Wonk and the Chocolate Factory

On our recent visit to northern California our daughter had arranged for us to tour the Dick Taylor Chocolate emporium, a successful and growing enterprise operated by two former woodworkers and (still current) musicians, Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor.   Dustin gave us the tour, which is normally  full but for whatever reason on this day we were the only ones.

Dustin’s enthusiasm for fine craft, whether it be furniture making, house restoring, boat building, or chocolatiering was evident with every gesture and utterance.  Learning that I was a woodworker he spent extra time describing their loving acquisition and restoration of much of their vintage equipment.

We began in the shipping, roasting and grinding room at the back.  The shelves were loaded with raw beans from around the globe.

One of their pride and joy machines is this bean roaster, converted from a turn of the century coffee roaster.  I got the feeling Dustin could have talked about this device for a long, long time.

They are a magical blend of “old ways”and “new ways”, combining finely crafted chocolates with state of the art technology.  This high-tech chocolate melting vat was the largest glue pot I had ever seen.

I think this was a 5kg block of raw processed chocolate, awaiting further processing into the final product.  As were hundreds of its siblings.

One striking artifact in their show room was a vintage letter press.  When they first started they decided that they wanted a certain “look” to their packaging and that look depended on letterpress wrappings.  They still have a local friend produce all their wrappings on another letter press they bought for her to use.

Given our attitude that “there is no such thing as bad chocolate, just some is a lot better than others”  (the darker the better for us) Justin’s recitation of their production and products was fascinating to us, and the treat of being able to sample all their products as we finished the tour was pretty seductive..

We bought their “Chocolate Library” with a bar of each of their products.  We’re told that they will be moving into a much larger facility and increasing their product line in the coming months.  I think their foray into milk chocolate is unappealing (it’s a waste of both milk and chocolate, IMHO) but given their continued growth I cannot doubt their vision nor marketing acuity.

They will be selling t-shirts with this new logo some time this summer and you can believe that I will get me a few.

Woodworking and dark chocolate, a pretty divine melange.