A university in Utah wants to make sure up-and-coming chocolatiers have a place to practice their craft — so they’ve opened up one of the first university-run chocolate factories in the U.S., KTVX reported.
The on-campus chocolate factory will be available to students in Utah State University’s food sciences program, according to a news release from the school.
“The teaching part really excites me because of the opportunities we will have to teach students about the complexity of making chocolate,” Silvana Martini, a professor who teaches in the lab, said in the news release. “When students think about making chocolate, they typically think, ‘Ok, I buy some chocolate at the store. I melt it and put it in a mold, or I dip a truffle.’ Most of them don’t realize all the complexity of finding the right bean, roasting the bean with the right process to get the flavor profile that you want, processing it, aging, tempering and molding it.”
Martini, who had been teaching a class on chocolate, pitched the idea to college of agriculture dean Kenneth L. White when students said they wished they could have a lab to go with the class, the Herald-Journal reported.
“I said, ‘I’d love to have that too, but we don’t have the equipment,’ so we brought the idea to Dean White … he really made this possible,” she said, according to the paper.
The chocolate factory will be in a public area, and the goings-on will be visible behind a glass wall, according to the news release. Students can work with small batches of beans all the way up to 500 pounds of cocoa at a time, the university said.
“We have beans from Belize,” Martini said, according to KTVX. “And we’re going to process the beans all the way from the way that we get them to the final product that is going to be chocolate.”
The factory will partner in research projects with chocolatiers, and will develop programs for commercial and industrial representatives interested in the process of chocolate-making, according to the university. Students will also learn about natural resources and economics through working in the lab, the university wrote.
It’s not all research and science, though. There’s still going to be room for the most important part — tasting.
“There is going to be a little café here on the site,” Martini said, according to KTVX. “And the café will feature different hot cocoas that we’re going to top with some cocoa nibs maybe some whipped cream and also we’re going to make some pastries that have our chocolate.”
When the factory opened this week, it was already a big hit with students and staff, the Herald-Journal reported.
“It’s chocolate,” a staff member said when asked what they thought of the program, according to the paper. “We love chocolate! Who doesn’t like chocolate?”