If you want an afternoon adventure with your baby geared more for Mom and Dad, sign up for a Saturday tour at DC’s biggest chocolate factory, Harper Macaw. In fact, make the day even better by walking to its next door neighbor, DC Brau, afterwards for some of DC’s best beer (If you’re up for a second tour, DC Brau’s are free on Saturdays). A tour for Mom and a tour for Dad.
My wife and I signed up for a tour of Harper Macaw to feed my chocolate obsession. It’s $10 per adult (Kids are free!) and the tour lasts just over an hour. Below is how the tour went, but just to say up front, it may not be the best for kids ages 2-10. It’s a lot of talking and not super interactive. There were two kids in our tour group and they seemed bored until the chocolate tasting. Our baby on the other hand loved looking at the machines and the bright colored art they use to decorate the space.
Here’s how our tour went:
We arrived at 3160 Bladensburg Rd NE right at 1PM (There’s easy parking near the entrance). We checked in and promptly put on a hair net (baby too, which is the cutest) as we waited for everyone in the group to arrive.
When everyone was present, the co-owner of Harper Macaw (Colin Hartman, a former US Marine who married a Brazilian chocolate maker) guided us into the kitchen to watch a short intro video of the history of Harper Macaw. To recap the video, Colin and Sarah got married and started Harper Macaw to make fine chocolate from Brazil in a way that provides fair wages to the cocoa farmers.
After the video, the group was led through the main factory hall (Factory is a deceiving word. It’s a small production and way quieter than a traditional factory) into the back to see the actual bags of cocoa beans from Brazil. There Colin talked about the long process of making fine chocolate- the beans are harvested, fermented (Yep, fermented just like wine is fermented), dried, shipped, roasted, liquefied, solidified, and consumed (by me).
Colin then showed us each machine used in the process. At this point, inspired by the large amounts of sticky, brown goo, our baby decided to produce her own sticky, brown goo (Her messiest yet). When the poo smell outweighed the chocolate aroma, Dad rushed away from the tour to the bathroom (Note: Neither bathroom has a diaper changing table).
By the time Dad rejoined the group, we were into the actual tasting. We stood around long, metal tables and tasted four different varieties of chocolate from milk to dark. Equipped with San Pellegrino to wash out each taste, we were offered unlimited samples.
The tasting concluded the tour, but we lingered in the waiting area looking at the beautifully designed (by Design Army) chocolate bars and ordered an amazing chocolate chip cookie from the bar area (The cookie batter is from Northside Social in Arlington and, of course, the chocolate use Harper Macaw).
Overall, it was a great experience and a good fit for Mom, Dad, and Baby. The tour was only an hour and the bright colors and machinery kept Baby entertained and the chocolate enticed Mom and Dad.