Last week, we had the pleasure of meeting with one of our favorite local merchants, Theo Chocolate. We were eager to visit Theo’s factory and meet their awesome team, but (most importantly), taste their chocolate!

Located in the eclectic neighborhood of Fremont, Theo Chocolate was the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America. We’ve partnered with Theo, because we support their mission in creating a compassionate, enduring world by responsibly making delicious and inspiring products for everyone.

Follow along as we walk you through our morning at Theo Chocolate:

Around 8am, we were warmly greeted and welcomed by Molly and Emily — two of Theo’s employees. Upon entrance, we could  instantly smell the bold, rich aroma of chocolate.

Molly encouraged us to walk around the store and browse their immense collection of chocolate bars, culinary confections, and branded merchandise.

Ally Bruner and Kurt Petonke — Knack’s lead merchandisers, buyers, and Theo Chocolate enthusiasts!

While we were perusing, Molly offered us samples of salted chocolate caramels and dark chocolate peanut butter cups… not a bad way to start the morning!

After exploring the storefront for awhile, the ladies invited us into the Theo kitchen, where their chocolatiers were in the process of making The Big Daddy.

This was probably the highlight of the tour, because we sell The Big Daddy in a few our our gift boxes! It was exciting to watch them create a product that we handle daily, because we often forget about the detailed craftsmanship that goes into a tiny square of chocolate.

Not to mention, the chocolatiers were ecstatic to show us the step-by-step process that goes into making their gourmet confection. It was such a treat too hear from them!

After spending time with the chocolatiers, we were guided into the Theo Chocolate factory. The factory is where their imported cocoa beans are unpacked, processed, and transformed into delicious chocolate.

While this process is extremely complex, Molly and Emily explained everything in a light, digestible way.

At the time, loud machinery was grinding away at raw cocoa beans. We were given samples of raw cocoa nibs to taste pure, unsweetened cocoa before sugar and other flavors were added. While the nibs were bitter, they were surprisingly tasty (and jam-packed with healthy antioxidants).

Molly recommended adding the cocoa nibs to the top of a smoothie or yogurt parfait for an added element of crunch. Such a good idea!

As we explored the factory, we saw the cocoa beans travel through various machines and processes to transform into a smooth, chocolate state.

Molly explained that majority of chocolate companies don’t process raw cocoa beans. Instead, they purchase cocoa butter (which is already processed), melt it down, and simply add their own flavorings and sweeteners.

Learning that made us appreciate and understand the importance of organic and whole food ingredients, as well as the bean-to-bar process.

Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience at Theo Chocolate! Witnessing Theo’s passion for high-quality, sustainable products reinforced our partnership and allowed us to have a better insight into their values.

We’re already looking forward to our next visit (and another taste of their delicious chocolate)!