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Being Charlie at Zotter’s Chocolate theatre

14 Aug

Although the topic of this entry is not chocolate in Vienna I decided to add it since Zotter has become such a well known synonym for organic, fair chocolate that it’d be wasted if it wasn’t part of a choco blog. And you can get the Zotter chocolate everywhere around the city so it’s still somehow connected to Vienna. 😉

In August we travelled to Riegersburg (southern part of Styria, Austria) to once more visit Zotter’s chocolate factory and to see (and taste!) the so-called “Chocolate theatre” for the first time in its new appearance. We’ve been there before several times but never since it’s been expanded so much.

After registering at the entrance (you can choose date + time of your tour online in advance), we got a spoon in the special Zotter design for the degustation and had to wait a few minutes for the start together with 25 other visitors. At the beginning of the tour, a short movie gives interesting background information about the acquisition of the ingredients. The trailer shows how Josef Zotter travels to the countries that produce cacao and chooses the suppliers for his chocolate, primarily considering aspects of sustainable, organic cacao cultivation and production as well as fair payment for the farmers. The film also highlights problematic aspects of the suppliers (mainly South American countries), like bribery by the drug mafia or overexploitation of natural resources. It was a great introduction to understand the reasons behind the ideology of Zotter producing his chocolate the way it is produced.

After the movie, audio guides are handed out so that everyone can walk through the factory at his or her own speed and get as much as information as wanted. I supposed we were by far the slowest visitors because we listened to every single bit of information. 🙂 But honestly, it was really interesting!

Example manufacturing process step at the Zotter factory   The tour starts with the first manufacturing processes in the chocolate factory which deal with the processing of the cacao beans to the raw chocolate mass. After watching various other steps (like the “Debakterisierung” displayed in the first picture) and listening to the explanations on the audio guide, we tasted the beans and the pure chocolate mass which is very bitter but indeed a league of its own! After having tasted 100 % cacao mass nothing afterwards tasted so rich, so intense and so aromatic. It might not be easy to like the pure mass but once you’ve felt all the different aromas on your tongue it’s like a bouquet of flavours and scents incomparable to anything else.

The 2nd picture shows an exited visitor in front of the fountain of bubbling chocolate mass (100%) and listening to the audio guide. The tour through the production hall ends with a room where you can taste all liquid kinds of chocolate mass from 10% to 100% (in 10% steps, see 3rd picture).

Exited visitor in front of the fountain of bubbling chocolate mass All liquid kinds of chocolate mass from 10% to 100% (in 10% steps)

 

The following part of the tour is dedicated to Zotter’s special thin chocolate bars called “Labookos”. At the end of this second stage we had a cup of hot chocolate chosen from many different flavours (small bars of chocolate which you put into hot milk) being delivered by the smallest cable car of the world (which is a manufacture by Doppelmayr especially and only designed for the Zotter chocolate factory, 4th picture).

Afterwards we moved on to the “Balleros” room in which we could taste all different Balleros (some kind of ‘finger food’ chocolate) of the Zotter product line. Then we left the second section and passed by the chocolate tube (5th picture) to arrive at the last station, the “running chocolate” room. Here we could enjoy all the traditional and fancy chocolate bars of Zotter. After more than two hours we finally left the guided tour, happily stuffed with chocolate.

Hot chocolate delivered by special Doppelmayr cable car Chocolate tube at the entrance to the running chocolate section

 

It was really much more than worth the entrance fee and we also enjoyed us enormously by tasting and discussing the chocolate in all its different appearances. I suppose when Roald Dahl wrote his “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” it was exactly something like Zotter’s factory he must have had in mind. And the great thing: at the Chocolate theatre everyone can become a little bit of Charlie – only the Oompa Loompa are missing. 😉

 
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  1. Marc

    21. December 2010 at 23:20

    Zotter chocolate has one of the best taste ever.
    But if you visit Zotter’s chocolate factory or if you buy a Zotter chocolate – NEVER EVER under any circumstances try or buy “Rosa Kokos und FischGummi”! 😉