Today was the day I was waiting for: I got to see chocri's chocolate factory from the inside. The chocri founders and team showed me a great time. The highlight of the day: making my own chocri bars.
But all in order...
I arrived and met the whole team. Along I had brought some chocolate from my travels the week previous, to taste and be inspired (those might warrant another blog entry, stay tuned). I was shown the office and production, where I noticed two especially cute things:
1) A door full with mails and letters from fans (including the German minister of finance and the likes) who express their joy over chocri (see picture above)
2) A quote by Georg Lichtenberg on the wall, saying "I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better."
The atmosphere at chocri is very much a fun startup atmosphere. Here an example: After the tour and tasting some of the chocolates I had brought, we played: foosball! Micha and Franz joined Nora, the intern, and me. Obviously, Micha and me won. :)
Most of the time during my first day here in Berlin was spent taking packagings apart, analyzing fonts and colors, brainstorming about alternatives and how to make the chocri packaging even more beautiful. At the end, we were surrounded by pieces of cardboard and other material, but also equipped with great ideas and questions to ask our designers and packaging supplier. For example, we hope to have an elegant gift box for your chocri chocolate gifts soon.
There's no point denying however that the best part of the day was when I got to make my own chocolate. The chocolate factory itself is still small, and rather than umpa lumpas chocri employs real (sweet) people. Apart from that though, the process does have a the technical and magical flair of a Willy Wonka factory adventure. This begins with the machines that silently turn around the chocolate in the back. The base chocolate has to be well tempered, and not just one temperature but several in a certain order. Out flows silky chocolate, delicious and dangerous to look at. As the chocolate, now with the right temperature, makes its way into the form it is carefully measured and gently rocked to ensure an even surface without air bubbles.
Finally, the most important step is to carefully place the ingredients in a pleasant fashion on the chocolate bar. This is where the real mastery comes in. I made some chocri bars myself, but am too ashamed to post a picture. Ingredients that I wanted on one bar fell on the other, I moved some (which showed afterwards), and the end result didn't look that pretty either - in short, decorating a chocri bar is a skill not everyone is endowed with. Thus I had one of the ladies in production, Heidi, show me how it's done the right way.
By the way, I was wondering about this: Why do the children and their parents in Roald Dahl's "Charlie in the Chocolate Factory" not wear any hairnets? Well, I did, because the hygiene regulations in the production are rigorous, and apply to founders as to visitors as to those who actually work there.
The end of the day brought more foosball, which was immediately interrupted whenever a customer called (otherwise you could hear it in the background), but also some good work. Suddenly it was evening, and that concludes the story of my first day at chocri in Berlin. The next adventure will be here!