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Scharffenberger chocolate factory

 
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srk



Joined: 09 Apr 2005
Posts: 85
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:30 pm    Post subject: Scharffenberger chocolate factory Reply with quote

Many of you are probably familiar with Scharffenberger - it's a high-end chocolatier that started out making only dark chocolate using old-school European methods and equipment. The chocolate is good, often very fruity. Anyway, the enterprise started out as a small local shop in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a factory in Berkeley that 1) smelled fantastic and 2) gave free tours and tastings. I went at least three or four times in my six years in Berkeley. The company was bought out by Hershey's a few years ago, but for a while things seemed to stay mostly the same in terms of quality, though the company did suddenly add a number of new flavored chocolate bars. Anyway, I just read that Hershey's, despite actually making a profit in 2008, is going to close the Berkeley Scharffenberger factory to cut costs. It just seems sad.

The article about the closing is at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/28/BU2F15I9DV.DTL, for anyone interested.
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jenbook



Joined: 14 Dec 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's so sad but also sort of typical. I think it's pretty indicative that Scharfer Bergen is part of Hershey's "Artisan' subsidiary but will be mass produced just like any of its other more mainstream products.
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Jennifer K



Joined: 08 Jan 2008
Posts: 16
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lived in Berkeley before I moved to France last year, and always meant to take the tour there, but never did. I remember when Scharffenberger chocolate was new, and the resulting buzz in town. So sad.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't live in the Bay area and have associations with different chocolate makers. However, here is my take on Hershey. Right now big corporations are laying off employees like they were expendable, rather than being humans beings and part of the public the corporations need to buy the products they are producing. Who do they expect to buy what they produce, and with what money, if they keep laying people off? Obviously the Scharffenberger people were pretty special, and I hate to to see them go.

Dory
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ExpatSteve



Joined: 28 May 2008
Posts: 13
Location: Lerné, France

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:20 am    Post subject: John Scharffenberger Reply with quote

I'm a native San Franciscan, now living in the Loire Valley. I knew of John Scharffenberger from Mendocino, as he at that time owned and operated a winery making a very good sparkling wine in the French tradition. He sold the company to a French concern, then moved on to conquer the world of high-end chocolate. Maybe he opened Scharffenberger Chocolate Factory with the end game of a sale to a larger entity?

It's not surprising that Hershey would close the Berkeley plant. Making chocolate in an urban setting is not usually a corporate plan, and yes, I'm not sure that quality will be kept up.

At least there's Valrhona!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try Theo, their chocolate is wonderful.
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srk



Joined: 09 Apr 2005
Posts: 85
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ExpatSteve, the story behind Scharffenberger is that the other partner - Robert Steinberg - was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-90s and told he didn't have long to live. He toured around Europe for a while, didn't die when expected, and finally decided to do something he loved - namely, making European-style, high-quality chocolate. So he and John Scharffenberger started the company. I don't know if they ever had an "endgame" in mind, given the circumstances, but one of their former employees was quoted in the SFGate article as being glad that Steinberg died (last fall) before Hershey's decided to close the Berkeley plant, because it would have upset him so much. But who knows - if you sell a tiny company to a global giant, you can't really be surprised if they radically change the small company.
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