I don’t know how anyone who loves chocolate as much as I do could visit Hamburg and not go to the Chocoversum unless they just didn’t know about it. I didn’t know about it myself until planning my trip there, Now that I’ve been, I can say it’s one of my favorite activities in all of my travels around the world.

What is the Chocoversum

The average German consumes 22 pounds of chocolate a year – the equivalent of 91 chocolate bars. Most of this chocolate arrives from the tropics into Hamburg’s port. To educate people on Hamburg’s role in chocolate, the Chocoversum Chocolate Museum opened its doors in 2011. Since then, it’s been fattening, I mean fascinating visitors with everything chocolate related.

Of all the museums I’ve been to, this is one of the best. Maybe that’s just because I love chocolate so much, but I also loved how interactive it was. I mean, I don’t think five minutes went by without getting another mouthful of some form of chocolate.

Selfie at Chocoversum with Chocolate Wafers

The English Guided Tour

There are up to five guided tours a day in English, ranging from about $13 to $19 depending on the day and how far in advance you book. I booked a tour during my two days in Hamburg. It wasn’t easy to squeeze it in considering how many activities there are within Hamburg, especially during the Christmas season, but thank god I did! If you were only in the city for a day, I’d still recommend this museum, along with Miniatur Wunderland.

Chocoversum Tour Types of Chocolate

The tour went through every step of the chocolate process, starting with the trees in South America and Africa. I was shown the cocoa pods harvested from the trees and the beans inside. I was one of the three lucky guests who got to try the raw bean. It was fleshy and bitter, somewhat similar to a lychee nut. I couldn’t detect any trace of chocolate in the bean, and I honestly don’t know how someone discovered the process to get chocolate from the pod.

Selfie at Chocoversum Getting Cocoa Bean

The tour went on to show how shipments were made, including inspections for mold and insects, classifying the quality of the beans, etc. I loved how the museum set up the display like an actual dock with a shipping container and provides the instruments used by shipment inspectors.

Chocoversum Tour

The next step of the process is the roasting, which starts to bring out the chocolate flavor. This creates what we know of as 100% cacao since no sugar or fat has been added to the mixture yet. We all had a chance to try some of this too, but I was probably the only one who really enjoyed it. It reminded me of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Chocoversum Tour Roasted Chocolate Samples

Finally, we came to the machines that churn the chocolate into its final state. The first machine grinds it down into a thick, crunchy paste, kinda like crunchy peanut butter. This is the phase in which they add sugar and various flavors. The ratio of various ingredients is a trade secret of each chocolate company. This is also where most of the cocoa butter is pressed out of the chocolate, to be used later in the process. Of course, we got to taste this too.

Chocoversum Tour Grinder

The second machine grinds the chocolate down between steel rollers to an astounding 30 microns (about 0.001 inches). This powder is quite surprising when you eat it, as it basically converts into natural chocolate in your mouth with its remaining small content of cocoa butter. Most chocolate will melt at body temperature, so in your mouth, the powder is just like a good quality chocolate bar after a couple chews.

Chocoversum Tour Fine Grinding

The last machine does a process called conching and kneads the chocolate with milk, sugar, cocoa butter and all the other ingredients into the final product, whether milk or dark chocolate. The machine was invented by the creator of the Swiss chocolate company Lindt and is how the various European brands (and perhaps a few others around the world) produce such high-quality products.

Chocoversum Tour Samples

Making Our Own Chocolate Bar

Perhaps the best part of the tour was the laboratory. Toward the beginning of the tour route, we entered a preparation room where we were each given a chocolate bar mold. We got to choose between milk and dark chocolate, and then had 21 different toppings to add to our bars. Some people got really creative with their flavors. Personally, I went for a two-tone. One side of my dark chocolate bar had espresso beans and crushed amaretti biscuits, while the other side was candied ginger and coconut flakes.

Selfie at Chocoversum Making Chocolate Bar

I left my creation in a fridge to cool while the tour continued. The bar was then brought to me at the end of the tour to package up and take home. As much as I love chocolate, it took me several weeks to finish my bar.

Selfie at Chocoversum with Chocolate Bar

Visiting the Chocoversum

You can tour the Chocoversum Chocolate Museum most days of the year. The times vary each day, so you just have to check the website for the day you want to go. The regular tour lasts for 90 minutes, although there’s also a 60-minute tour if you’re short on time, or a longer tour which includes a meal if you’re feeling fancy. If you have the Hamburg CARD, you get a 20% discount on your tickets. I’d definitely recommend getting that card, as it will give you free transport around town too. Also, wearing some clothing you don’t mind dripping chocolate onto…just in case.

Selfie at Chocoversum Getting Chocolate

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Further Reading

Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary ticket to the Chocoversum on behalf of Visit Hamburg and the Chocoversum Chocolate Museum. As always, all views and opinions are my own. I am not responsible for any obsessions, obesity or overdosing as a result of consuming too much chocolate at the Chocoversum.

I love chocolate, but I didn’t really experience truly amazing chocolate until I came to Europe. I try not to indulge too much. On the other hand, when I get invited to a Dutch chocolate tasting, I indulge away!

Belgian vs Dutch Chocolate

I’ll never forget the day I gave myself a self-guided tour of the chocolatiers in Brussels and had so much chocolate that I made myself sick. There are many countries that make their own chocolate, and some are impressively good. But how good is good? How do you rate a bar of chocolate? Obviously, there are some brands like Hershey’s that can hardly be dignified as chocolate.

Much of the Dutch chocolate from the Netherlands actually uses the Dutch Process, wherein they treat the chocolate to make it PH balanced (just like those old shampoo commercials). Believe it or not, the father of the guy who invented the Dutch Process was the same guy (the father) who invented the process of squeezing out the oil from cocoa beans to make cocoa powder way back in 1828. So the Netherlands definitely played its role in the international chocolate industry.

Chocolate Company Rotterdam Sampling

When it comes to Dutch chocolate, there aren’t any major brands. The place I went to was simply called the Chocolate Company. They make their own Dutch chocolate for use in their hot chocolate mixes and other chocolaty treats. I’ll admit it’s been a couple years since I was eating Belgian chocolate in its homeland, but what I tried in the Netherlands was definitely on par.

Dutch Hot Chocolate

While in Rotterdam, I met up with two other bloggers at the Markthal (Market Hall). Among the dozens of stalls on the ground floor was the Chocolate Company. The owner, Mario, was there to greet us.

The tasting started off with a hot chocolate. We got to choose which of the 63 available flavors we wanted. I might have been a little silly, but I went with the tiramisu flavor. In addition to all the usual and unusual flavors, there are also a dozen “deluxe” flavors that include a little vial of liquor to add to the hot chocolate.

Chocolate Company Hot Chocolate Selection

Mario used the Belgian style of making hot chocolate, where you take a solid block of chocolate on a wooden spoon and mix it into a mug of hot milk until it fully dissolves. It was rich without being overly sweet and the tiramisu flavor didn’t overpower the chocolate. I could have gone for another, but we had many more items to try.

Selfie with Dutch Chocolate

Along with the hot chocolate, we were each given four truffles with unique flavors such as lavender and ginger. How do I describe that kind of pure chocolate, especially when I grew up thinking that M&Ms were real chocolate? Each of those pieces was an artistic creation. If I didn’t know it would have made me sick, I’d have stayed there all day eating truffles.

Dutch Chocolate Truffles

Next came the “ice blended” chocolate. That was really interesting. Mario simply took a large, stuffed bonbon and blended it with water and ice cubes. I was surprised at how well it mixed into the ice water. It put Nesquik to shame!

Ice Chcolate Bonbon

Finally, we came to the killer brownie. Yep, it’s a downright murderer. I don’t know how they packed so much chocolate into that little slice, but it was almost too much, especially since I’d yet to eat anything else that day. Persist I did, and the plate was scraped clean by the time I was ready to go.

Killer Brownie with Chocolate Company

As a parting gift, Mario gave us all another hot chocolate spoon to take along. I got “Sex on the Beach” which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t resemble the cocktail at all except perhaps the alcohol is vodka and the chocolate has some red food coloring to make it look peach.

A couple of weeks later, I could resist going back for more. I actually ran across the main cafe where they have a full menu of food, in addition to all their chocolate products. I went with the strawberry Belgian waffle with chocolate fondue and whipped cream. Decadent? Hell yes! Almost more so than the Killer Brownie! It was a good thing I had a three-hour bus ride right after the breakfast and could slip into a food coma.

Chocolate Company Rotterdam

The chocolate fondue is a big seller for the Chocolate Company. The Dutch use it for barbecues, coating meats with it; similar to a Spanish mole sauce. If I didn’t have luggage restrictions while I travel, I’d have taken a large bag of Dutch chocolate away with me. Luckily I’ll be staying in the Netherlands for a couple more months, so I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy more of it!

What’s your favorite chocolate? Have you tried Dutch chocolate? Why not come visit me while I’m still in the Netherlands and we can go get some together!

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Further Reading

In case you missed them, here are all the links to my other articles concerning Rotterdam.

Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.