Berkeley’s artisanal chocolate micro-manufacturer, Bisou Chocolate, is opening its first storefront at 2929 Ninth Street. The spot was previously home to Subway, and nearby establishments include Berkeley Bowl West Cafe, the Vietnamese restaurant Mint Leaf, and Spoon Korean Bistro.
Co-owner Eli Curts tells What Now San Francisco that the new location will serve as a small production facility, where the chocolate will undergo final steps such as tempering — the careful heating and cooling of chocolate that results in adequate stability and presentability — and packaging.
Unlike its previous spot at 2703 Seventh Street, there will also be a to-go counter, marking it as Bisou’s first storefront. For years, Bisou has profited predominately from its success at Bay Area farmer’s markets — “We’ve built our business through direct sales,” Curts shares — making this upcoming development especially significant for him and co-owner Tracey Britton.
Bisou on Ninth will sell chocolate-based beverages, like cold brew cacao and European-style hot drinking chocolate, in addition to its boutique chocolate bars, specialty hand-rolled truffles, chocolate haystacks, chocolate-covered California nuts and raisins, and chocolate-dipped California fruits.
When asked about their origin as a chocolate-making duo, Curts shares that he and Britton met as bike messengers in San Francisco. They first began trying to make chocolate in their kitchen and, after eventually succeeding, the pair found their commercial kitchen space on Seventh Street in Berkeley in 2010. Both Francophiles, Curts and Britton decided on “bisou” for the business’s name, meaning “kiss” in French.
On Bisou’s website, the couple describes their process, sharing that they pay “meticulous attention to every step of chocolate making, from sorting to roasting to winnowing to grinding to conching and tempering.” They add, “each batch of chocolate is a blend of the finest ingredients possible, with a focus on single-origin batches that highlight cacao from select regions and unique flavor profiles.”
While there are still some renovations that need to be completed, Curts says that they don’t intend to do anything “too extensive.”
The chocolate shop is slated to open before the summer of 2022. Stay tuned to Bisou’s Facebook and Instagram for additional updates.