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Buy Local- Black Mountain Chocolate Factory Opens on Trade Street



By Carissa Joines

When Black Mountain Chocolate officially opened the doors to their new Visible Chocolate Factory on Friday, there were no oompa-loompas, rivers of chocolate, or everlasting gobstoppers. There was an inviting “den” painted in warm, welcoming colors, beautifully crafted chocolate confections under gleaming glass, and machines and people working away creating their own kind of magic in Camel City’s newest addition to downtown.

the den

A year ago, owners Brent and Dawn Peters bought Black Mountain Chocolate, North Carolina’s original craft chocolate maker, from the founder of the company, who had started making chocolate near Black Mountain, NC in 2007. Brent, who had a career in the banking industry, and Dawn, who was an elementary school teacher, were ready for a “2nd act” and decided making chocolate could be a fun and rewarding second career.

The Peters are from Winston-Salem, and wanted to move the production facility to downtown. As they were searching for the perfect location, they opened a retail store in Reynolda Village, where they sell their packaged chocolate products. While a great retail location, the space could not house the full production facility. “We looked at a number of places in Winston,” said Brent Peters. “Great things are happening downtown, and we wanted to get in on the action.”

The newly renovated Big Winston Tobacco Warehouse at 8th and Trade streets downtown was exactly what the Peters were looking for. On the edge of the Arts and Entertainment Districts, the location provides the opportunity for the “visible factory” to showcase the art of chocolate making while entertaining patrons with the actual manufacturing processes. “We love the location in the Downtown Arts District, crafting edible art in the form of chocolate,” the Peters said.


That process begins with cleaning the cocoa beans. Black Mountain Chocolate uses organic cocoa beans – Hispaniola beans from the Dominican to be exact. “Like grapes, or coffee, the flavor of cocoa beans is influenced by the location where they were grown,” says Peters, who took a course on chocolate early in his days as a chocolatier. The beans travel to the factory in 150 pound bags, and are sometimes accompanied by bits of rope, nails, feathers or concrete. After the beans have been cleaned, about 75 pounds of them are poured into the roaster.

Roasting cocoa beans is a process similar to roasting coffee beans. The roasting machine itself is nearly identical, but the cocoa roasts at a lower temperature than coffee, and requires indirect heat. The roaster used looks like an old locomotive engine, complete with smokestack, and the aroma produced during the process is a pleasant one, like brownies baking. The roaster is vented to the outside, scenting the air around the facility with this wonderful chocolate smell.

After the beans are roasted, they are moved to another machine, which automates the process of removing the husk. The beans are shaken, and a vacuum hose literally sucks the husks away as they rise off of the beans. After the husks are removed, the roasted beans are known as nibs.

At this stage, the roasted nibs are moved into another room right beside the roasting room. In there, the nibs are loaded into a grinder with organic sugar. Sugar is the hardest of all agricultural products, and requires 24 hours in the grinder with the nibs before it is smooth enough to be made into chocolate products. The grinder is very loud, and the nibs emit a smell that is acidic, almost vinegary, in nature as they are ground. The machine can process about 100 pounds of chocolate at a time.


A full day after the nibs entered the grinder room, they are finally ready to be made into chocolate products. The “cold room” is next to the grinder room, and is kept at 62 degrees so that the finicky tempering machines can operate properly. The most expensive of the machines used in the manufacture of the chocolate, the tempering machines automate the delicate process of tempering, or cooling, the chocolate. The machines first heat the chocolate to a specified temperature before cooling it at the exact pace necessary to reach the perfect temperature to create the proper crystals required to produce the right snap, shine and feel of fine chocolate. The liquid chocolate is then poured into the molds, and allowed to cool completely in the temperature controlled room, creating chocolate bars. Each bar is then hand wrapped at a long table at the back of the cold room.

Although no one is likely to watch a single batch of cocoa beans go from cleaning to wrapping, guests to the chocolate factory can observe each step of the process through large windows built in to each room. The Visible Factory also offers guided tours and chocolate-making classes.

BMC’s pastry chef, Megan Peters, creates house-made confections, pastries, gelato, drinking chocolate, tea and coffee in the on-site Chocolate Kitchen – also visible to guests. Megan is the Peters’ daughter, and is also a trained pastry chef who cut her teeth on confection creation as an assistant pastry chef in a Cary, NC 5-star restaurant. She now creates her own confections utilizing the family’s own chocolate and a variety of local products. “It’s really important to me to use local products, like eggs and milk, as well as other artisan products produced locally or in North Carolina,” Megan said. She is currently using a NC Moscato wine and a NC moonshine in some of her truffles, and is excited to begin experimenting with other local products as they become available.

The retail area of the factory, or “the den” as it is affectionately known, sells all manner of chocolate, from a variety of bars to a ridiculously good chocolate chess pie. Also on the menu are gelatos from Twin City Gelato, Chad’s Chai, coffee from Dynamite Roasting (located in Black Mountain, a nod to BMC’s roots) as well as in-house produced drinking chocolates and confections. Indoor and outdoor seating and on-site parking make BMC both easy to get to and a welcoming place to visit.

BMC is the first retail operation to open in the newly renovated Big Winston Tobacco Warehouse at 8th and Trade Streets in downtown Winston-Salem. Hours of operation will be Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

While the original factory location in Black Mountain will no longer manufacture the main chocolate products, the location will be crafting BMC’s newest product. Touted as “the South’s answer to Nutella”, BMC’s pecan/chocolate spread will be made in the original location. This allows BMC to keep products manufactured with nuts separate from other products, and keep a connection to the company’s roots in the Black Mountain area.

In addition to the company’s retail stores on Trade Street and in Reynolda Village, Black Mountain Chocolate products can also be found at many gourmet and grocery stores, coffee shops, wineries, in Winston-Salem, and online HERE.



cocoa and sugar in bags


removing the husks
removing the husks


the grinder in action


the factory at work


finished products
finished products


finished products
finished products



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