Very exciting. Press release here:

French Broad Chocolates is thrilled to announce the Grand Opening of their latest chocolate venture, French Broad Chocolates Factory & Tasting Room. The event, scheduled for Friday, June 29, will feature free tours, tastes, and a ribbon cutting by the Chamber of Commerce. The event will be open housestyle, from the hours of 11-7pm at 21 Buxton Avenue. The ribbon cutting will kick off the event at 11am. We’ll be offering nibbles from Roots Hummus and Annie’s Bakery, and a special Chocolate Milk Stout brewed especially for this occasion by our friends and neighbors at Green Man Brewing.

“We are excited to share with you the transformation of a beat-up, old warehouse into our beautiful, bean-tobar chocolate factory and tasting room,” says co-owner, Jael Rattigan. “This is the culmination of years of dreaming and scheming of cacao, beginning 8 years ago when we purchased a cacao farm in Costa Rica. We’re expecting our first harvest this fall!.” The Factory will produce a new line of artisan, bean-to-bar chocolate bars, including single origin dark chocolates, milk chocolate, and chocolate bars with inclusions such as organic coffee, salt, organic nuts, and malt powder from Asheville-based Riverbend Malt House. The cacao will be hand-sorted, winnowed in a machine designed and built in-house, and refined in a stone melangeur. Bulk chocolate will be available for chefs. Already, nibs and cocoa shells are being used by local brewers, including Pisgah Brewing and Green Man. We will be rolling out our initial collection of bars for wholesale within a month.

The Tasting Room The Tasting Room will host educational classes and chocolate pairing events. “Cacao is literally foreign to most of us, being from the tropics,” says Dan Rattigan. “It’s traditionally a very secretive industry, as dramatized in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. We want to demystify cacao – what it is, and how chocolate is made.” Tours of the factory will be available to the general public. Farm-Direct Cacao Dan and Jael believe the best way to get farmers the compensation they deserve is by establishing direct relationships with them. This can encourage farming methods that will improve the value of their products, increasing their profitability while procuring a better ingredient. Dan and Jael went on a sourcing expedition to Peru in 2011, and met with farmers and cooperatives, yielding their first direct importation of cacao. In Costa Rica, they purchased and are restoring an abandoned cacao farm, and helping a Costa Rican friend build a fermentary. They hope to make their first purchase of this cacao this fall.

Grand Opening French Broad Chocolates Factory & Tasting Room 21 Buxton Avenue, Asheville NC Friday, June 29, 2012 11 am – 7 pm

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