San Francisco's Bean-to-Bar Dandelion Factory and Cafe Brings Chocolate to a Whole New Level
San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate turns merely eating chocolate, into an indulgent, insightful, and thoughtful experience. Located on the trendy Valencia St., this unique destination offers much more than your average chocolate purveyor. At the core of Dandelion is the belief that the best chocolate can only come from the best beans. Makes sense, right? The artisanal chocolatier sources its beans from the world’s highest quality producers from locations that include Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania; and Maya Mountain, Belize.
At the Dandelion Factory and Café (and online), you can read extensively about each bean it uses to produce its chocolate. Knowing facts like what region the beans come from, the fermentation style, and tasting notes make eating its chocolate an even more delightful experience. Since Dandelion only uses two ingredients in its chocolate — cocoa beans and organic cane sugar — every step of the chocolate making process is important.
As one of the coolest places to satisfy your sweet tooth, Dandelion has a café full of pastries made in-house by Executive Pastry Chef Lisa Vega, a nice list of inventive chocolaty drinks, and has its entire chocolate factory on display for its patrons. I could sit there watching the chocolate-makers transform solid cocoa beans into pure, decadent chocolate all day! Dandelion’s chocolatiers execute everything from the roasting and grinding of the beans to the tempering and hand-molding of the finished bars; it’s pretty interesting to follow along.
With an inviting atmosphere provided by the delicious chocolate aroma, exposed brick walls, unfinished wooden beams, and general happiness from both the chocolate-makers and eaters, Dandelion is unparalleled in the bean-to-bar chocolate game. The menu has a topnotch drink menu, with sections that include hot chocolates, such as the spicy Mission hot cocoa, and the thick, rich European drinking chocolate; and cold chocolates such as the decadent frozen hot chocolate, the Nibby Horchata made with almonds and hazelnuts, and the unique cacao fruit smoothie — made from the actual fruit of the cacao tree. Lastly, it has a solid list of mochas that include a frozen and spicy variation of the chocolaty coffee treat.
One of my favorite things about Dandelion is that it always has a variety of chocolate bar bites — and their accompanying cacao bean pods — on display, ready to be tasted. You can also read all about the chocolate types you test out and see what their origins are. Moreover, you can read through all the shop’s pretty, chocolate-focused books that cover subjects like sustainability, history, and the sources of the best chocolate beans and bars out there.