John Scharffenberger

Did you know?

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, received a basket of Scharffen Berger chocolate while on a trip to San Francisco. She was so impressed with the chocolates that she instructed her staff to have a regular shipment delivered to her back in England.

john-scharffenberger
Photo by: Greg Gorman

Without question, John Scharffenberger has made his mark on the food world. He has run several successful businesses, including a winery and a chocolate factory, and currently is working on a book on the geography of cacao and its flavors in chocolate. 

 

After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a combined major in botany, cultural anthropology, food history and geography, John first grew strawberries and nursery products organically and then turned his interests to wine making. He founded Scharffenberger Cellars, producing domestic sparkling wine using classic European production methods. He sold the company in 1995.

 

When John's friend and physician Robert Steinberg approached him about joining a chocolate-making venture in 1996, he accepted the offer with enthusiasm.

 

Using a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, an electric mixer, and a hair dryer to produce their first chocolate in Robert's home kitchen, the two tested nearly 30 varieties of cacao beans for flavor. The first official batch of Scharffen Berger chocolate, made in their South San Francisco factory using vintage European equipment, was well-received by Bay Area foodies. The company eventually became known worldwide for producing consistently wonderful chocolates.

 

Scharffen Berger was the first American company founded in the past 50 years to make chocolate from "bean to bar," and used imported beans from a range of cacao-growind countries around the world. The company performed every step of the chocolate making process to turn the beans into chocolate. This included roasting, conching, tempering and molding.

 

John and Robert wrote Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate. 

 

In 2005, Hershey Company acquired Scharffen Berger, and has maintained the brand and many of its formulas.  

 

John lives in Northern California.

 

 

 

 

 

See John 's Recipes

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