Friday, May 4, 2012

Visit to Videri Chocolate, Raleigh, North Carolina

Last weekend I traveled with my wife to North Carolina. She was attending a medical conference, and I came along because we planned to visit friends who live in the area.

When traveling, I always have my radar active looking for chocolate that I have not yet tried.  Our friends suggested that a visit to a local chocolate factory might be fun, so no radar needed!

Videri Factory Store
The factory was the Videri Chocolate Factory,  located in refurbished buildings near the Raleigh train station. Walking in the front door brought us to an open room with a counter on the right where chocolates can be purchased, and to the left is an area where many bags of raw beans are stacked and a space with tables and benches where your purchases can be enjoyed at leisure.

Towards the back is another room where the factory itself can be found.  A large bean grinder takes a prominent space in the center, and the processing room is behind a wall of glass panels.  The only activity in that area was two large blenders stirring a pot of chocolate.  After admiring the equipment for a while, Sam Videri, one of the co-owners, walked into the processing room, made some adjustment to the pots, and then came into the observation area and gave us a short tour of the processing.
Factory processing room

Bag of raw beans
He explained that the pots were making chocolate liqueur, a basic ingredient of nearly any chocolate product.  He also pointed out the other equipment in the room, including a vacuum system for separating ground bean nibs from their husks.

I asked Sam about their products.  He explained that they currently have one 70% cocoa bar which is made from a blend of beans that he selects. He liked the process of selecting just the right beans from the large bags as a bit of a zen experience, one he enjoys.  He might do a single-origin bar at some point, but for now he is producing a blended product.

He also mentioned that he has plans to add a product purchasing option to their website, which is currently is a simple splash page with links to their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Sam Videri at the counter of their factory store, and Chris Videri behnd him in the office
This photograph shows Sam at the counter with his partner and spouse, Chris Videri, in the office behind him.  It also shows the products on offer at the factory.  They offer free tastes of all of the bars, and also have a selection of chocolate confections (under the glass dome).  I had to try their chocolate covered marshmallow, which was delicious.

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