Scharffen Berger was founded by Robert Steinberg, a physician, and John Scharffenberger, a vinter who was Steinberg's former patient. Neither partner had a background in chocolate, but they were not deterred. Their first batch of chocolate was created using rudimentary equipment in Steinberg's home kitchen.
Scharffen Berger was founded in South San Francisco, but the company quickly outgrew those headquarters and the Scharffen Berger factory is now located in Berkeley, California. Scharffen Berger products can be found in many specialty retail stores and in some chain stores, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Cost Plus World Market.
A Different Vision:
Almost all chocolate companies in America create their confections from purchased chocolate liquor, provided by a few main suppliers. Although the finishing procedures might be different, these companies that purchase chocolate liquor have very little control over the quality of the starting product.
From the beginning, Scharffen Berger set out to be a different type of chocolate company. Scharffen Berger was founded as a chocolate manufacturer, which means the company buys their own cocoa beans and guides them in small batches through the entire manufacturing process. As a result of this artisanal approach, Scharffen Berger has developed a reputation as a supplier of high-quality chocolate.
Scharffen Berger is known for deep, dark chocolates. Almost all of their bars contain over 60% cocoa solids (compared to 15-25% in typical American chocolate bars). Their milk chocolate is categorized as a "dark milk" bar and contains 41% cocoa solids. They were one of the first American companies to popularize the use of cocoa nibs, the unsweetened shards of roasted cocoa beans, in their confections. They also offer an 82% cocoa bar that will intrigue the most devoted dark chocolate lover.
Scharffen Berger Today:
The company currently makes over half a million pounds of chocolate a year. In 2005 The Hershey Company purchased Scharffen Berger, but have not made any substantive changes to the chocolate production or products offered.