Utah State Opens First On-Campus Bean-to-Chocolate Factory

Sep 28, 2018, 6:09 PM | Updated: 9:42 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Food Science professors at Utah State University used to teach a chocolate history class out of a textbook. Now, they have a chocolate factory of their own to better give hands-on experience.

Carefully sorting cacao beans from Belize, a group of Food Science students, prepared to create chocolate from scratch Friday.

“Chocolate is like a girl’s best friend, right?” said Heather Nicholson, a food science major and teaching assistant. “Of all the foods to learn about, chocolate is really fascinating.”

Food science professor Silvana Martini said she used to teach a freshman level chocolate science, history, and society course from a textbook. Faculty members were able to eventually garner support for a complete, bean to storefront factory.

“Everybody likes chocolate,” Silvana said. “It’s a very complex system, when you look at it from the food science point of view.”

The plant production manager, Steve Shelton, said the plan was to produce 70 percent cacao chocolate – richer than most of the candy bar varieties in the United States. Shelton said differences in where the cacao beans are bought, how they’re roasted, and even when certain ingredients are added can impact the flavor.

“Once people get an opportunity to start tasting the subtle nuances that you can actually get out of cacao beans, then I think it opens up a whole new world for you,” Shelton said.

Once the beans make it into the factory, Shelton said it’s a two-month process to make chocolate bars.

While many of the students taking the chocolate laboratory course, like Nicholson, don’t necessarily plan to become chocolatiers, they said the course teaches them some important things about food.

“If I’m eating dark chocolate, I feel like I’m being pretty healthy,” Nicholson said. “But I’m also just getting a really just sweet, rich, complex experience. For me, I think that’s why I love chocolate so much.”

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Utah State Opens First On-Campus Bean-to-Chocolate Factory