Dandelion Chocolate is one of San Francisco’s finest chocolate makers

As much as I enjoyed touring around San Francisco and Oakland, I had to stay focused, as the primary reason for my recent trip was to meet some of the chocolate makers whose fabulous chocolate creations had impressed me to the point that they became winners of several awards in the first volume of Chocolatour. On the top of my list were TCHO New American Chocolate and Dandelion Chocolate, two bean-to-bar operations in the heart of San Francisco. (Both companies have grown since my 2013 visit and have moved to larger facilities.)


Dandelion Chocolate single origin bars come wrapped in beautiful paper that Dandelion has custom-made for them in India.

dandelion chocolate has a funky cafe and great brownies

I’ll begin with Dandelion Chocolate, a small company that in 2012, opened the doors to its funky cafe and chocolate factory on Valencia Street in the Mission Street Neighbourhood of San Francisco. I gave Dandelion a Chocolatour Award in volume I for “Best presentation” in the chocolate bars category to acknowledge the beauty and attention to detail that goes into wrapping its exquisite chocolate bars. Everything at Dandelion is done by hand (with the assistance of simple machinery) and the result is a level of freshness and excellence in the pure and simple chocolate bars it produces.

todd-masonis of dandelion chocolate

Todd Masonis of Dandelion Chocolate

We met with co-owner Todd Masonis and tasted the Dandelion line-up of beans, including the 70% Ambanja Madagascar bar–my favourite as well as Todd’s, who tells is that the fruity flavour of the Madagascan beans will vary from year-to-year, sometimes highlighting strawberry notes, sometimes cherry, but always highly acidic due to the aggressive drying process that occurs in the hot Madagascan sun.

sorting-cocoa-beans at dandelion chocolate

All the cocoa beans used to make Dandelion Chocolate bars are hand-sorted.


The cocoa beans are hand sorted so that the imperfect ones can re rejected as Todd says they’ve experimented and made chocolate with some imperfect and cracked beans included and you could tell the difference. So only the very best beans and pure cane sugar are used to make Dandelion Chocolate. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Dandelion soon and try some. Please note that in 2019, Dandelion Chocolate opened a new factory and expanded cafe at 16th Street at Alabama Avenue in San Francisco. I’ve not yet been there, but plan a return trip as it’s time to restock my Dandelion Chocolate supply. My friends loved the tasting journey I treated them to some time back.


The Dandelion Chocolate tasting event I held on my deck was extremely well-received by my chocolate-loving friends.

Another bean-to-bar California chocolate maker that really impressed me is TCHO New American Chocolate. I profile them in this post.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

16 Responses

  1. Shrey Patel says:

    I really like this Chocolates 🙂 Great Job !
    It is incredible and informative knowledge
    Very inspiring.
    This is great and just what i’ve looking for. Thanks a lot.

  2. Jason B says:

    Looks like some good chocolate.
    Jason B recently posted…November Debt UpdateMy Profile

  3. Cheryl says:

    Wow… so much done by hand. That shows the character of the chocolate maker.
    Cheryl recently posted…How Many Holes Are In Your Buttons?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Cheryl and thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I believe that artisanal chocolate makers show a real passion for the work that they do. Todd told me that the flavour develops in the cocoa beans thru each step of the process, and so you can’t rush good chocolate, and if you don’t take the care, the quality of the product will suffer. They are small, and they are slow, but the quality that Dandelion Chocolate produces is evident from the first bite. The packaging reflects that level of care and excellence.

  4. Abby says:

    You are so lucky that you get to see the chocolate-making process of many chocolatiers and chocolate makers. I also really love the packaging 🙂

  5. Ugh! SHARE!!! lol. That packaging is lovely!
    Neosha Gardner recently posted…Youtube + Google Plus Integration? The Necessary Evil…My Profile

  6. Mmm, sounds really tasty! To bad I´m so far away from these places, not even on the same continent. Still, I really enjoyed reading about your visit to this chocolate producing café, but not without envy. Next time, please enjoy an extra piece of chocolate for me as well! Have a great day! 😀
    Björn Petersson recently posted…Music turns darkness into lightMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      What country are you in, Bjorn? There is magnificent chocolate in pretty much every country of the world. You just have to look for it! And that’s where my book comes in, as the 1st volume of Chocolatour takes in the best of Europe and the UK.

      Thanks for dropping by the blog.

  7. Catarina says:

    Agree completely with everyone about the wonderful wrappings and the importance of that. Get the feeling their chocolate is delicious. It’s amazing how many wonderful chocolate makers there are in the world. Must be a treat for you to try what they produce.
    Catarina recently posted…How do you make your strategy succeed?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina and thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I’m a firm believer that fine chocolate should satisfy all 5 senses: You see the chocolate or the attractive packaging, you feel the chocolate or the texture of the wrapping, you smell the chocolate, you hear the snap of the chocolate (or the rustling of the wrapper as you open it) and you taste the delicious chocolate. It truly is a multi-sensuous experience.

  8. Susan Cooper says:

    I will have to make a point to visit this chocolatier in the near future. I do love the packaging, I also know that the contents do not disappoint. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Domaine ste Michelle Brut: Sparkling WineMy Profile

  9. Thx for your comment, Jacqueline.

    Think of artisanal chocolate the same way you would fine wine. Just as the flavour of a vintage changes from year to year, the flavour of chocolate will change depending on the cocoa beans used, and how they have been processed. That is why the chocolate of each chocolate maker is different and will vary depending on the specific beans used.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…our words are a part of our soulMy Profile

  10. I agree with Deb…the packaging is beautiful! That’s as important, in terms of marketing. And how interesting to know that the fruity flavor of the bean can vary. I wonder if that helps or hurts them in any way? In ordinary brands, it is the consistency of the product flavor that seems to appeal to folks!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Fifty Shades of Truth… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  11. Doreen says:

    Hi Debra: No, I am not interested in making chocolate. There are many people who make wonderful chocolate. I will leave it to them!

    Yes, I am fortunate in that I get to see the chocolate-making process of many chocolatiers and chocolate makers. It is indeed fascinating, as each have different equipment and a different approach.

    Regarding surprises: Yes, I was really surprised at the magnitude of the Chocolat Frey factory in Switzerland! It is massive, and yet spotlessly clean, and they produce some very fine tasting chocolate. So, although artisanal chocolate is most often created by very small operations like Dandelion, there are larger companies who also make some darn good chocolate. Thanks for posing the questions. 🙂

  12. The wrapping on the bars from Dandelion chocolate are beautiful, they look like elegant Christmas gifts. You visit so many manufacturers, I wondered if you ever get surprised by the processes you come across? Do you ever think about making your own chocolate?

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