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A Winemaker Turns to Chocolate

America's first artisan chocolate manufacturer, SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker was founded in San Francisco in 1996.

Our History

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker is America’s original craft “bean-to-bar” chocolate. Founded on the ideal that by sourcing the best cacao in the world, blending it in small batches, and gently processing it to maintain the subtle flavors in the beans would yield the richest, most flavorful chocolate.

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker was founded in San Francisco in 1996 by chocolate connoisseur Robert Steinberg and winemaker John Scharffenberger. Steinberg was a family doctor diagnosed with lymphoma in 1989. It proved to be a life-changing experience, and he decided to dedicate himself to his passion for fine food, turning his attention to chocolate making in 1994. His ultimate goal was to craft the finest chocolate from the best beans nature had to offer. John Scharffenberger’s entrepreneurial spirit, successful business background and astute palate complemented Steinberg’s skills. The pair tested multiple combinations before perfecting a unique blend that highlighted the true flavor of cacao instead of masking it with sugar and other additives. The result is an array of truly distinctive chocolates with balance and complexity normally reserved for exceptional wines. 

As the first American “bean-to-bar” chocolate, SCHARFFEN BERGER led this country’s contemporary craft chocolate movement. The first chocolate maker to label their chocolate with the percentage of cacao inside, SCHARFFEN BERGER ushered in a new way of talking about fine chocolate that stands to this day.

The Hershey Company acquired SCHARFFEN BERGER in 2005. In late 2020, the brand was returned to private ownership and SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker is once again led by a dedicated team of entrepreneurial experts committed to upholding the rich tradition of crafting the world’s most authentic, high-quality, flavorful chocolate

SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate Maker still travels the world to source the finest cacao, selecting the best beans from small, sustainable farms in fabled cacao-producing countries. Of the more than 150 samples tasted each year, only a select few are chosen to become SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate.

SCHARFFEN BERGER. Hand-crafted chocolate with the soul of a fine wine.

The influence and active involvement of co-founder John Scharffenberger, regarded world-wide as a leading chocolate expert, guides the artisans who make SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate to this day.

Still made in America. Still bean-to-bar. And still the richest, most flavorful chocolate, bar none.