This family-owned chocolate company in California has been quietly making some of your favorite chocolate—from bean to bar—for 150 years. Their obsession with flavor has made them leaders in a global effot to elevate chocolate -- and the lives of cocoa farmers.
Guittard may be the biggest local chocolate-maker some of us had no clue was local—even though they've been making chocolate here since the Gold Rush. ... It’s like the engine room of an old battle ship, if an old battle ship smelled like warm chocolate. The machinery for roasting, grinding, refining is massive and much of it is more than 60 years old, shipped in from Switzerland and Germany. The company is even older, celebrating its 150th year—still manufacturing in the Bay Area, still privately owned.
Gary Guittard is a chocolate genius. Fourth-generation CEO of Guittard Chocolate Company (founded in 1868), Guittard is obsessed with quality chocolate and never tires of exploring the possibilities of the cacao bean. While the best cacao is grown far from the U.S., close to the equator, California is certainly an ideal place to craft its most beloved by-product: chocolate.
A dusting of cocoa powder covers everything like a light layer of new snow inside the Guittard chocolate factory. The air is hot from roasting and heavy with an indelible smell that blends toast, baking brownies and hay. Vintage machinery clamors and bangs as it turns cocoa beans into chocolate, winnowing, sorting, grinding, refining. ... Gary [Guittard] is head of Guittard Chocolate Co., the Burlingame company with roots in Gold Rush-era San Francisco. His great-grandfather Etienne immigrated here from France with chocolate in his luggage. Soon thereafter, he opened a chocolate business in 1868, selling its wares on the waterfront. Changing with the times, it focused on wholesale business for nearly a century before rebranding itself with a high-end chocolate bar line in 1997, releasing the first U.S. single-origin chocolate.
Guittard Chocolate, now in the fourth and fifth generations of chocolate making, acknowledges their sesquicentennial with a special chocolate blend, expanded facility and events throughout the year.
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