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U.S. Chocolate Maker Takes on Europe's Best

Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffenberger Chocolates sifts through cocoa beans.
Laura Sydell, NPR News
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Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffenberger Chocolates sifts through cocoa beans.

Nearly a decade ago, Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger started an artisan chocolate company that set out to change the American public's standard for the confection and challenge European masters.

Scharffenberger Chocolates opened in California in 1997. Scharffenberger, who once owned a wine company under the same name, sold his wine business and became partners with Steinberg.

The company emphasizes the use of high-quality beans from Madagascar, Venezuela, Ghana and Trinidad, among other places.

What once was a small business operating out of a garage now has its own plant in Berkeley, Calif.

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Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.