Videri spreads a love of chocolate, from bean to bar

Videri spreads a love of chocolate, from bean to bar

Down a side street on the outskirts of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, sits the old railroad depot, which served as the city’s warehouse distribution hub from the 1850s to the 1950s. Trains still run behind the building each day, but now they stop at the freight depot or the Amtrak station less than 300 meters (1,000 ft.) away. If you were to book a trip on the Carolinian, the daily passenger train that runs from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina, and you stepped onto the platform at Raleigh’s Union Station, you’d be just a few minutes’ walk from one of the sweetest destinations in America.

Located in the main building of the former passenger station is Videri Chocolate Factory. Since 2011, this bean-to-bar chocolate factory, coffee shop and chocolate retail counter has been satisfying guests with 12 varieties of chocolate bars, dozens of flavors of bon bons and soft-serve ice cream with house-made toppings.

Chocolate Maker and CEO Sam Ratto founded Videri in 2011, and today his responsibilities range from business operations to chocolate making and everything in between.

Chocolate making is a complex, precise process consisting of fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding cocoa beans, mixing the ingredients, conching (the process of bringing the chocolate to the correct form, color and consistency) and tempering (creating a final, stable product). All of these processes are done onsite by Videri’s chocolatiers.

Right at the heart of the production process is where ABB’s Baldor-Reliance motor has the chance to shine. The cocoa bean roaster, a US Roaster Corp. 23 kilo capacity roaster, powered by a Baldor-Reliance one-horsepower, three-phase, totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC), general purpose motor, ensures the beans achieve the unique, intense flavor that chocolate lovers crave.

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“This machine roasts the cocoa beans to bring out unique flavors. It has a gas burner below a large horizontal cylinder that turns and floats the beans while they are being heated,” said Sam. "It was built in 2009, and we purchased it used. It runs 10-20 hours per week, it’s self lubricated, and we’ve never done any major maintenance on it - and it still runs like a champ.”

But it takes more than just reliable equipment to make it in any business. It takes dedication, perseverance and a love for what you do.

“I loved sorting and roasting cocoa beans, turning them into chocolate bars. My love for processing cocoa beans and then sharing it with friends, customers and anyone who is curious has only grown over the past 13 years of chocolate making,” said Sam. “The roaster wafting the delicious aroma of cocoa beans, the alure of chocolate and our reputation as a wonderful place to bring friends and family all year round – that’s what gets me going every morning. But this is a business, and I always strive to be a better manager, co-worker and trainer."

And that dedication has paid off for Sam and his team. Videri chocolate has won awards and accolades across the state and has become a favorite among connoisseurs and casual chocolate lovers alike - and recently, American newspaper USA Today named Videri Chocolate Factory one of the 10 best chocolate shops across the U.S.

Sam has this advice for any entrepreneur just getting started or thinking about taking that first step toward starting a business: “Just go for it. It won’t be easy, but it will be delicious and fun,” and when asked how the future looks for Videri Chocolate Factory, Sam has only one word: “Chocolately.”

Hungry for more? You can get a taste of Videri chocolate for yourself. The shop is open Tuesday-Sunday and offers self-guided and guided tours, tasting events, educational activities and private parties. Visit Videri Chocolate Factory at 327 W. Davie Street, “Sweet” 100, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA, and at viderichocolatefactory.com.

Please view the video HERE to learn more. 

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