French Broad Chocolates announces Friday, June 29, opening for Factory & Tasting Room

PRESS RELEASE (from French Broad Chocolates)

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 house- style, 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.

Bean-to-bar Chocolate
“We are excited to share with you the transformation of a beat-up, old warehouse into our beautiful, bean-to- bar 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 choco- late 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.

An important and exciting development for owners, Dan and Jael Rattigan, is the ability to supply the chocolate for their own line of artisan truffles, caramels, and pastries available at their popular dessert restau- rant, French Broad Chocolate Lounge and on their website, “We are con- stantly scrutinizing the integrity of our ingredients, and with chocolate being the heart and soul of our business, we felt we could do better,” says owner, Jael Rattigan. “Our goal is to use only our own bean-to-bar chocolate in our confections, pastries, and drinking chocolates.” They already use their bean-to-bar chocolate in several items. They will be one of a handful of chocolatiers in the world to be bean-to-bar-to-truffle.

At the grand opening, they will unveil their prototype parabolic trough solar cacao roaster, designed and built by Dan Rattigan. The goal of the roaster is to precisely roast cocoa beans using only the concentrated rays of the sun. The idea: Solar radiation reaches the earth in rays that are basically parallel. Parallel lines reflecting on a parabola intersect to a focal point. On a parabolic trough, the focal point becomes a focal line. If a roasting drum is set to tumble with its axis on the focal line of the parabolic trough, and the trough is lined with a reflective material, solar radiation will be concentrated on the roasting drum, acting as the drum roaster’s heating element. This is the first cocoa bean roaster of its kind. Dan adapted the design from a peanut roaster made for use in developing countries by an Appropriate Technologies non-profit. Dan’s design has added a photovoltaic-powered gear motor for turning the drum, a thermostatically-controlled cooling fan to remove excessive heat, and a solar water heater for use when the oven is not in operation.

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 a.m. – 7 p.m.

French Broad Chocolates is a mom & pop business, which adheres to small batch, artisanal methods, in order to serve you a small luxury, made with love and good stuff.

For more information, photos, or to schedule an interview, call Jael Rattigan at 828.450.4570 or email

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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