Our Story

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A man in a khaki shirt picking cacao pods in a jungle

the original farm-to-bar

It started with a life-changing decision and a glass of rosé.

In 1989 Dr. Robert Steinberg received a lymphoma diagnosis, and left his successful medical practice. He was inspired to pour his creative energy into something new – making fine chocolate.

Robert traveled to Lyon and studied with French chocolatiers. He then partnered up with renowned sparkling winemaker John Scharffenberger. Their goal was audacious. They wanted to pioneer the first American craft chocolate company. They'd do it by sourcing the world’s finest cacao beans, crafting in small batches, using traditional methods on vintage machines.

From the start they sourced their beans straight from small growers in Venezuela, Brazil, Indonesia, Trinidad and Ghana. Robert built a lab in his kitchen, and tested and perfected the roasting, winnowing and grinding. They built the first factory in San Francisco with a vintage German mélangeur – the grinder that makes one small batch of chocolate at a time.

The Artisanal Touch

They tested batch after batch, and perfected the very first Scharffen Berger chocolate – an intensely flavorful blend, made from eight different types of beans.

Wanting to make a big splash, Robert and John hurried to hand-wrap their bars just in time for the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

That event was the validation they needed. Jacques Pepin said the chocolate reminded him of his childhood in France. Julia Child told them it was the best American chocolate she’d ever tasted.