Chocolate, or ‘Schokolade’ in German is loved by everyone. So what about a museum that is both educational and interactive covering the process of chocolate making? One such place exists right here in Hamburg – Chocoversum.
Chocoversum sits a few steps away from the U-bahn station at Meßberg. Tours of the museum run every 15 minutes in German and English. Make sure to bring a €1 coin if you would like to store items in a locker while you take the tour.
Our tour happened to be in German. When we mentioned that we were English to our guide, Corinna, she offered to summarise in English after every explanation in German . A lifesaver if ever you book the wrong language tour and really kind of the staff.
The tour began with a wafer, a wafer that you are instructed not to eat. That is because the wafer is used to taste chocolate from the most enormous chocolate fountain that I had ever laid eyes on. The liquid coming out of this was smooth, rich and tasty. High quality chocolate.
After tearing us away from the fountain, Corinna had some educational pictures of the process of chocolate making to show us. The fascinating facts kept on coming as we learned that cocoa beans have to be fermented to enhance their flavour using banana leaves for a number of days.
Now clued up on how chocolate goes from seed to something that we recognise as chocolate, we headed into a large laboratory. Here is where the fun begins, making your very own chocolate bar.
You can choose either milk or dark chocolate and then up to four toppings from the incredible selection available. This is every child’s dream right here. My creative side was going into overdrive as I tried to envision the final product. In the end I settled on meringue pieces, raisins, cappuccino buttons and crushed hazelnuts.
On the table you also have seasonings to add to your bar. I went with a shake of salt, some cinnamon and a little chilli. You can really get crazy with the flavours though – gummy bears and strawberry buttons were very popular amongst the group.
With our products labelled and setting in the fridge, we continued our tour. We got to have a look inside a fermented, dried out cocoa bean. This inspection process is critical as the manufacturers are not only checking for quality but also potentially deadly insects!
Moving on from that station, we were introduced to a map of the world with the key regions of cocoa cultivation highlighted. Intense farming occurs mainly in Africa, Ecuador and parts of Indonesia. Sadly we were informed that chocolate does have a ‘dark side’ with people trafficked in from parts of Africa to work on the plantations. I respected the honesty.
The mood lifted as we took our seats around a device used for roasting the beans. This is where the intense flavour of cacao really emerges. I say cacao as these are the small particles within the shell. We got to taste these fresh from the shell and although intense and unsweetened, you could really get the quality. I loved them.
After eating a piece of 60% dark chocolate, smooth and rich on the tongue, we moved over to a large grinder. This thing weighs over 400 kilos on each wheel! Those cacao nibs stand virtually no chance of being anything less than dust after an encounter with this bad boy.
We tried a sample of some of the most amazing cocoa paste straight out of this machine. Nothing more than cacao and sugar. It was superb in flavour but slightly granular in texture. That issue is solved by the next machine. A giant roller, similar to an industrial pasta machine.
The real positive about this experience is the tasting of the chocolate at each stage of the production process. You really get a sense of the product’s development and flavour enhancement from the pure beans to an immaculate finished bar. You taste the journey.
We finished off by looking at the tempering machine that brings the chocolate to the correct temperature in order for it not to melt too easily and retain its form. The finished bars are then pressed, wrapped and distributed into a basket for sale. The final tasting was unbelievably good.
A whole tour here will cost you €12-17 as an adult depending if it is a peak time or not. Many groups from companies were here on an ‘away day’. A great idea for employee bonding for any business or tour group.
How about that finished chocolate bar? All of our efforts looked like they were fit for pride of place in the shop. We even got to wrap and label our bars to add that professional touch. The taste? Incredible! I should become a chocolatier…
I would highly recommend a tour of Chocoversum. If you have children and are looking for a family activity that is both fun and educational, this is perfect. The guides were friendly and took the time to answer questions and provide a sense of humour. This is a must-do in Hamburg.
Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800
Nearest U-Bahn Station: Meßberg
*Our visit to Chocoversum was by way of complimentary tickets