After reading a number of raving reviews about the Chocolate Museum in Cologne, we purchased tickets before we left the states. And it turns out, the reviews were accurate!
There are three levels to the museum and the tour began with introduction to the cocoa bean with detailed, well-sourced, framework.
The museum’s first level included a full immersing into the world of cocoa beans-ideal conditions for optimal growth, differing methods of harvesting and various treatments and processing of the cocoa bean. These methods include marinating the seeds and pulp for several weeks followed by drying the beans for commercial exporting. The tour also included a walk through an impressive, enclosed rain forest, assimilated in the center of the high rise, equipped with concise temperatures, humidity levels, and various water sources. The forest is inclosed in layered glass, with automatic doors opening for a few seconds to allow participants to enter.
The second floor contained the machinery necessary to take the cocoa bean from pod to deliciousness. Because of the size of the machines, there were steps and platforms on which to stand and observe the stages of how chocolate is made. Watching these large vats of young chocolate— rhythmic, and swirling at various stages—and then the fragrance. I had to restrain myself from just a quick “dip” into the vat of bliss.
The third level was epic! In the foodie world there is a saying that goes something like this—“You eat with your eyes.” Turns out, this theory was realized here. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the glass dome enclosure, housing one of the largest and oldest fountains flowing with unending streams of rich, deep chocolate. And then the pay-off. As you walk near, you are handed a vanilla wafer cookie that is dipped-deeply into that richness. No words.
Oh we are not done yet. As you walk through the converter belt, watching the “gold” morph from liquid to soft form, there is a small, discreet, green button just waiting to be pushed. And when you do, the arm of the machine deposits a clink of chocolate, that comes down the hatch for your tasting. And we are not even close to being on chocolate over-load.
During the last stage of this chocolate affair we are directed to a long a counter with slabs of chocolate, which you may select, and one of the chocolatiers will sprinkle that hunk of goodness with any morsel to add crunch, salt, spice, or even bitter additions. You can even have your name molded in “chocolate,” after which you personalize it with your add-ins. After it is wrapped in cellophane, tied with a bow you pay and run the heck out of there because there is never an end to chocolate.
The tour ends with a welcome into the Lindt store whichI might add, is indescribable. It is filled—floor to ceiling—with every size, shape, flavor of chocolate your imagination can conjure up. At that point, we were overwhelmed by too many choices. But hey! What a great problem to have!