What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Chocolate factory to hold grand opening in Raleigh

Posted January 10, 2012

Sam Ratto was sitting in front of a pile of cacao beans one day and he had an epiphany. He could make his own chocolate. 

Ratto, who comes from a family of farmers, had some experience in the industry. He and wife, Starr Sink, worked for Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Raleigh. But the couple wanted to strike out and make their own product from organic ingredients. 

The result is the Videri Chocolate Factory, located in the historic Depot Station across from The Pit. The warehouse once housed the Ess Nightclub, but you wouldn't be able to tell by the rustic environment that Videri has created. 

Walking through the doors, visitors see bags of fresh cacao beans from small farms in Peru stacked in one corner. Ordering from smaller farms means the product is less likely to have been treated with pesticides, Ratto said. 

Along another wall are mason jars filled with the main three ingredients used in every bar - organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter and cacao beans. Other natural ingredients are used to create flavors like Pink Peppercorn and Peppermint. 

Through another set of doors, visitors are taken on a short tour of how each bar is made. The entire process takes about four days. 

Ratto and workers begin by hand-sorting every bean, before roasting. Then, a vacuum-like machine separates the beans from the husks. Ratto said the husk mixture is sold to home beer brewers in 1-3 pound packs for the same amount he purchases the beans for. (Duck Rabbit is even using the mixture to create a few beers during an event Jan. 27 at Tasty Beverage.) 

videri Our lens on Videri Chocolate Factory

The beans are then ground with sugar and cocoa butter on machines normally used to blend Indian seasonings. They get the job done, but at a much slower pace then large commercial machines.

The chocolate is then placed through a machine meant to smooth it out. A worker fills each mold by hand. 

Ratto said much of the chocolate is set aside to age for up to two months. While the average chocolate fan wouldn't notice it, aging chocolate like wine creates an even better flavor, Ratto said. 

Videri is small, creating 150-200 pound of chocolate a week because the equipment used doesn't creating mass amounts. Ratto said he, Sink and co-owner Chris Heavener wanted to focus on creating the best possible product before purchasing larger machines.

Now, Videri's isn't like Hershey's milk chocolate. Flavors at Videri include Sea Salt, Pink Peppercorn and Peppermint Chocolate and have much larger concentrations of cocoa, for a more dark chocolate feel. 

The factory opened in late December, but will be holding a grand opening on Friday, Jan. 13. Stop by to get a tour of how the chocolate is made, free tastings and a special "buy four chocolate bars, get one free" discount.

Currently, you can only buy Videri from the factory, but they plan to expand to wholesale and retail customers. They also plan to produce custom chocolates for weddings, private parties, corporate events and other special occasions. The building itself can even be used as an event space.

In addition to the retail counter and factory floor, Videri has an outdoor patio where the public is free to relax and enjoy their chocolate with a glass of wine or beer they bring.

Videri Chocolate Factory is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. and by appointment.


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  • texasncgirl Jan 11, 2012

    Have already been there, and LOVE it!

  • whatsupwiththat Jan 11, 2012

    anyone know how expensive the bars are??? From the description of the procress the chocolate goes through, sounds like it would be pricey...

  • this is my Screen Name Jan 11, 2012

    "Videri's isn't like Hershey's...."

    That's enough to sell me right there. Videri's probably doesn't have wax in it either, like Hershey's has.

  • eyesofgreen Jan 11, 2012

    Hey Bo, in the 3rd paragraph the name is highlighted--click on it and it'll show address along w/map. However, I'm still looking for the time on Friday. Assuming it's 11-7 also.

  • chris48 Jan 10, 2012

    Hi BO! We are located at 327 West Davie St in the warehouse district of downtown Raleigh. Hope to see you soon!

  • RomneyRyan2012 Jan 10, 2012

    I think something important is missing from the story, like maybe an address??

  • STRAWBERRY LETTER 23 Jan 10, 2012

    YUM!!! :-)


  • corwinsshadow Jan 10, 2012

    Maybe spell-check is broken on the WRAL computers?

    But this definitely looks like a place to check out, grammar/spelling error in the article aside.

  • caninetrio Jan 10, 2012

    "The beans are then grinded" - Say it isn't so! And all these years I thought the beans were ground...

  • raleighlynn Jan 10, 2012

    I have great memories of the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory in San Francisco. Daughter in law is from Russia and has introduced me to great Russian chocolates. Now I've got to check out this place! Nothing better than fresh chocolate!