Born in early 2010, Dandelion Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate factory based in the Mission District of San Francisco. They make chocolate using only two ingredients: cocoa beans and organic cane sugar. Small batches of high-quality beans are roasted, cracked, sorted, winnowed, ground, conched and tempered, and the chocolate bars are carefully molded and packaged by hand. Dandelion sources directly from producers and travels to the beans' origins as frequently as possible to strengthen relationships with their partners. Dandelion's goal is to preserve the characteristics and nuanced flavors of each single origin.
Dandelion was founded by Todd Masonis and Cam Ring. But they don't come from a storied line of chocolate makers... the two worked in the tech world up until a few years ago. On a whim, they started tinkering around with cocoa beans and the machines needed to process them. They stayed in the garage phase, selling their bars at the San Francisco Underground Market (the same one that launched many a Mouth favorite). For those unfamiliar, guests paid $5 to try offerings from new food companies... without health permits. We've heard from SF makers that this phenomenon came about because Bay Area commercial space rent can reach astronomical heights that a newbie in the field can't afford—we love that a space exists to support their growth.
When they started to take off, they expanded to a facility, but they never switched over to the large-production machines. Instead, they built, tinkered with, or totally overhauled each of their machines to work with their small-batch production size. Their dedication to small production led to a loyal following... one that extends far beyond SF now. In addition to their Valencia Street cafe and factory, Dandelion expanded to Tokyo as of early 2016. Raising the bar worked out for them.