Whenever you hear about Switzerland, what’s the first thing that comes into your mind representing this beautiful country? The Alps? The villages? The chalets? The cheese with holes? For me, it is always chocolate. Why is Swiss chocolate so popular all around the world? Because of its high quality? Because it’s super delicious? Today, let’s explore the secrets of the oldest existing chocolate brand in Switzerland – Cailler and maybe you will find the reasons why Swiss chocolate is so well-known and beloved by almost everyone.
Have you ever visited a real chocolate factory before? I once visited the chocolate museum in York in the UK but as for a real factory, Maison Cailler is my first time. I first heard about it from a friend who is from Fribourg/Freiburg, capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg. He suggested that the tour in this factory is really interesting and I thought that if it’s recommended by a local it shouldn’t be bad. The moment I finished my visit, I was indeed shocked and amazed by how well-organized the tour is. All the details show that the interests of various kinds of visitors have been taken into consideration while this visitor center was being designed and constructed. However, when I was trying to come up with a title for this post, I really didn’t know how to define this “Maison Cailler”. It’s not only a factory but also a museum. It has a workshop, a cinema and even a series of rooms designed with different scenes for introducing the history of chocolate from the ancient Aztec cocoa ceremonies to today’s chocolate innovations. I guess in this case, I’ll just call it a chocolate attraction to avoid neglecting any of its features.
The two pictures above show where the factory is located. I guess you can already figure out one of the reasons why Cailler chocolate is so delicious and popular, right? Here in Broc, the cows are eating top-quality grass and living a top-quality life, which lead to the production of top-quality milk. At the same time, milk is exactly the essential ingredient for making both milk chocolate and white chocolate. I remember that I sent a picture of the farm in Broc to my friend and she was joking that the cows were even living a better life than her.
In the next two chapters, I’ll first of all provide you with some practical information concerning your preparation to visit Maison Cailler such as opening hours, ticket prices, how to get there etc. In the second chapter, I’ll take you step by step to discover the secrets of Cailler chocolate highlighted by the multimedia tour about the history of cocoa and of the brand of Cailler, the production line of Cailler Branches and the tasting session, which in fact I started “dreaming about” even when I was still in the train to Broc.
1. Practical information
1.1 Opening hours
Maison Cailler is 0pen from Monday – Sunday:
- from 1st April to 31st October: 10:00 – 18:00
- from 1st November to 31st March: 10:00 – 17:00
Please note that:
- Maison Cailler is closed on 25th December and 1st January
- on 24th December and 31st December Maison Cailler closes at 16:00
- the ticket office closes when the last tour starts (one hour before the closing of the museum)
1.2 Ticket prices
- Adult: CHF 12.00
- Student and senior: CHF 9.00
- Children (younger than 16 years old): free when accompanied by an adult
- Members of the Hello Family Club Coop: 20% off (max. 2 adults)
Groups and school visits:
- Groups from 10 adults: CHF 9.00 per person
- Groups of children (younger than 16 years old): CHF 3.00 per child and 1 free accompanying adult per 10 children. Each additional accompanying adult: CHF 9.00 per person
1.3 How to get here
Maison Cailler is located 5 mins away by foot from the train station of Broc. Once you get off the train station, I believe you will see the beautiful white maison immediately.
If you wanna drive here, there is free parking space for visitors. For more information about the driving route, the SBB RailAway combined offer or the Chocolate Train from Montreux to Broc, please click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “DIRECTIONS” or directly contact relevant staff from Maison Cailler by telephone: + 41 (0)26 921 59 60 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.4 Before your tour starts
There’s one more thing that I’d like to remind you of. If you visit the factory in the morning or on a normal weekday, there might not be big problems. However, if you visit it in the afternoon especially on weekends and holidays, you might need to wait for quite some time before your tour starts. In general, the tour works like this: Once you arrive at Maison Cailler, you need to buy your ticket in the ticket office and you will be assigned to the earliest tour group available. The starting time of your tour will be printed on the ticket. Then you need follow the signs to go to another building where the boutique, workshop, cinema and the starting point of the chocolate tour are located. At the entrance of the main building you can obtain the audio guide of your chosen language (the available languages are French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Japanese) and from then on, all you need to do is to wait for your tour to start. For me personally, I was there on a Saturday afternoon and luckily, I waited for only around half an hour. I heard that sometimes the waiting time could be more than an hour. Tired of waiting? Don’t worry. There are many things that you can do before it’s your turn to enter the factory. For example, in the cinema, a multimedia show featuring a journey through the history of Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand will explain to you Cailler’s traditions and innovations and a quiz can be participated in to challenge your knowledge about chocolate. At the Cailler boutique, you will find the entire Cailler chocolate range of products and many souvenirs such as T-shirts, posters and mugs.
1.4.1 Cailler boutique
This boutique is the biggest one that you can find in Switzerland and probably in the world. Its collection covers an entire Cailler chocolate range of products from the simplest, most classic and popular, milk chocolate to Cailler pralines, from hazelnut chocolate to Cailler Branches, from Fémina, an extra-fine mix of pralines, to Frigor, from Cailler Dessert to Ambassador pralines and to Sublim, launched in 2009. If you wanna bring some home for yourself or for your friends, you will find them packed in exquisite boxes decorated with either traditional advertising posters from the 19th century or designs by modern artists. You can also find other souvenirs such as mugs, posters, chocolate master aprons, hats and many more. In one word, you will definitely find something special here for everyone who loves chocolate.
1.4.2 The in-house cinema
It is here that you will learn about the history of Cailler chocolate and what impressed and interested me most were the advertisements for this brand from old times to nowadays and the quiz to challenge the visitors’ chocolate knowledge. There are in total 20 questions and before each question appears you have a few seconds to participate (to aim the front of your audio guide at the screen). After reading the question you will see two possible answers and again you have a few seconds to make your choice. The correct answer will be given after each questions and an explanation will also be provided. After answering all the questions in the quiz, you can scan your audio guide on the screen close to the entrance/exit of the cinema and see how knowledgeable you are about chocolate. Do you know which chocolate is the most popular among Swiss people? Milk chocolate, white chocolate or dark chocolate? Do you know which country provides the most hazelnuts to this factory? Do you know how are almonds “harvested”? by hand picking or by shaking the trees? To be honest, some questions are really difficult. Let’s see whether you are already a “chocolate expert” or not. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the starting time of your tour! If you miss it, you will miss the most important part of your visit.
2. Discover the secrets of Cailler chocolate
In this chapter, I’m gonna give you a virtual tour of what you can expect in Maison Cailler and the highlights would be the multimedia tour about the history of cocoa and of the brand of Cailler, the production line of Cailler Branches and the tasting session of Cailler’s most classic and popular chocolate.
Once it’s time for your tour, you will be summoned into a room where all the traditional posters are hanging on the wall and more importantly you will see a copy of the oldest price list from François-Louis Cailler’s business, proving the existence of Cailler brand in 1819. In a few minutes, when all the participants in your group are gathered around, the adventure begins.
2.1 The history of cocoa and Cailler
In my opinion, the tour in Maison Cailler can be divided into two parts. The first part, which I’m gonna introduce to you in this section, focuses on the history of cocoa and of the brand Cailler while the second part, which I’m gonna introduce to you in the next sections, will be focusing on the current production status of the company.
In the first part of the tour, you need to follow your group to go through different rooms, which represent different stages in history when certain big events related to cocoa or the brand Cailler happened. Please note that in this part you can’t stay in the rooms once the guide finishes, otherwise you will be locked there… The reason why I mentioned at the beginning that this tour is very well-organized is that in the first part, I felt I was traveling back in time. All the rooms are like small theaters designed with special scenes, models, light and sound effects and animation! It felt like I was experiencing the historical events by myself.
Do you know how cocoa beans were discovered? Do you know what role cocoa played in Aztec culture and economy? How and when did cocoa beans arrive in Europe and who were the first ones to enjoy the beverages made from it? Do you know that cocoa drinks were once forbidden by the Christian society? Do you know that cocoa beans were once called the “Brown Gold” and only the rich or members of the royal families could afford a cup of hot chocolate?
Why was Cailler chocolate factory built in Broc? Who chose this location for the factory? When were the famous Branches invented and when did Cailler start producing its own Branches? When did the companies Peter and Kohler merge with Cailler and why? When and why did Peter, Cailler, Kohler, Chocolats Suisses S. A. merge with the Nestlé Group?
All the questions I raised above will be answered through interactive, real-life models while you go through the rooms one by one. Did you notice that the questions were divided into two groups, one of which was mainly about the legend and history of cocoa and the other one mainly about the history of the company Cailler? Those are exactly the two themes of the first part of the tour. If you wanna learn more about the history of Cailler, please click here to read about the milestones of this brand from the birth of François-Louis Cailler in 1796 to the new packaging introduced in 2015.
Once you step out of the last room of the past, you will be at the present Cailler factory and from here the second part of the tour starts. Let’s first of all check out what kind of ingredients are chosen by the company to produce the best quality chocolate.
2.2 The origins of Cailler ingredients
It is in this hall that you will learn about what criteria are used for choosing the best ingredients for the production of Cailler chocolate. On the surrounding walls, you can scan your audio guide to hear the voices of different suppliers from the local cocoa farmer in Africa to the cow in a nearby farm. In the center of the hall, there are tables with filled with cocoa beans, hazelnuts, almonds and solid cocoa butter blocks. You can touch, observe, smell, and even taste. To be honest, it is rather magical for me that these bitter smoky beans can be turned into smooth and delicious chocolate.
2.3 The production line of Cailler Branches
The production line of the famous Cailler Branches is absolutely a highlight of the tour. You will be able to see how the branches are covered with chocolate, how the unqualified ones are filtered out and how the qualifies ones are packed. Basically all the steps are done by specific machines and the most amazing step for me was how the qualified branches were picked out and how the unqualified ones were filtered out. Just follow the production line and by the end of it the staff, who was super friendly, will give you one or two freshly made branches to try. I guess that nowhere else will you be able to taste a Cailler Branche as fresh as this.
While you’re walking along the production line, don’t forget to take a look at your left hand side as well. On the wall you will see models explaining the differences of ingredients between milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate and the advantages or benefits of eating chocolate (more excuses to eat chocolate lol).
Do you know that white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa except cocoa butter? Do you know that dark chocolate doesn’t contain any milk? Anyway, what’s your favorite kind of chocolate? You can have your picture taken here with it. For me, I like both milk chocolate and white chocolate, but as for dark chocolate… I don’t enjoy it that much to be honest.
Do you know that cocoa contains antioxidant polyphenols known for their protective effects against cardiovascular diseases? Do you know that chocolate is the ultimate comfort food and it can reduce stress and provide a sense of well-being? Do you know that phenethylamine in chocolate is associated with the feeling of being in love? Do you know that cocoa butter is appreciated in cosmetics for moisturizing and softening properties? Do you know that chocolate supports intellectual activity and concentration with caffeine and theobromine? Do you know that chocolate is particularly energy food, rich in carbohydrates, lipids, and minerals? Next time when my mum says “You shouldn’t eat so much chocolate! They are bad for your health!”, I’m gonna read all the advantages to her. 🙂
Once you leave the big room with the production line of Cailler Branches, you can take a seat and take a glance of the inside of the huge factory.
2.4 The factory
From the screens you will be able to see the how step by step chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar and/or milk, and/or cocoa beans. Some machines such as cocoa mixers, milk chocolate grinders, dark chocolate drinkers and mixer controllers also give you an impression of how big the scale of the factory is and how busy it is when in operation.
2.5 Become a Cailler taster
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a chocolate taster? It was once my dream job because think about it, a job that lets you taste chocolate every day! However, now I realize that this job is not as simple or easy as it sounds. In this section, you will walk along the corridor with a piece of milk chocolate in your hand. Listening to and following the instructions, you will learn the basic skills of becoming a chocolate taster. The six steps are look, hear, smell, feel, taste and aftertaste. As long as you follow the audio guide closely, you will learn about the criteria of distinguishing good- and bad-quality chocolate.
At this point, I guess the fresh Cailler Branche and this piece of milk chocolate have already aroused your appetite. Now let’s enter my favorite room of the whole tour, the tasting room, where most of the signature chocolate of Cailler can be seen and tasted.
2.6 The tasting room
Even before entering the room I could already smell the delicious classic chocolate of Cailler. This room is absolutely paradise for chocolate lovers because you can not only see the most classic and famous kinds of Cailler chocolate and their main ingredients, but also taste them. For me, it was also a really good opportunity to distinguish the different kinds of them. For example, I saw and tried Nestle Galak, Cailler milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts, Cailler Fémina pralines, Cailler Ambassador pralines, Cailler dark chocolate and so on. By the end of my visit, I felt that my life was so sweet and it was really a wonderful opportunity to try so many traditional and innovative signature chocolate at one time.
Before finishing your tour, you can also create your own souvenir by taking a picture of your face and place it in a Cailler themed frame. When I was there, the two available themes were “Cailler Chocolate Master” and “Cailler Praline Delivery”. Please note that you can zoom in, zoom out and rotate your headshot to adjust to the frame. It seemed that many people didn’t notice this feature and their photos were not that perfect. I understand that after all this is just for fun, but why not making it better if you can and you know how to do it.
If you still wanna participate in the quiz in the cinema you should keep the audio guide with you. Otherwise you can already return it by the exit. Besides visiting the chocolate boutique and choosing some nice gifts for yourself and for your beloved ones, why not enjoying a hot or cold beverage, accompanied by some light snacks or desserts at Café Cailler? I’m sure you will appreciate them even more after learning about the history, ingredients and production process of Cailler chocolate.
Before finishing my post, I’d like to mention another two activities that I didn’t participate in but I found very tempting. The first one is the “Scavenger Hunt“. You can download Maison Cailler’s scavenger hunt app “Nestlé Family” and search for the lost Cailler recipe! You can choose between a 45-minute or a 90-minute Nestlé Treasure Hunt route, which will take you through the village of Broc and to a dairy farm. What’s a more exciting, interesting and adventurous way than this to explore this beautiful and peaceful village? The second activity is to realize your dream to be a chocolatier. By participating in the Cailler Chocolate workshop, you will be introduced by skillful chocolatiers to the art of tempering, conching and ganache-making and you will become a Cailler chocolatier and create your own “masterpiece”. As Geraldine Maras, head chocolatière at Cailler says:
At the Atelier du Chocolat, we combine creativity and craftsmanship with exquisite chocolate – that’s why we have the sweetest job in the world!
To check the availability of or to book a spot in the chocolate-making courses, please click here.
Having said so much, are you planing to visit Maison Cailler already? You should understand that in my post, you can only read texts and see pictures. However, when you are in the factory, you can not only see but also hear, smell, touch, taste, explore, experience and experiment. Maybe next time when you visit it, you will see me at the Atelier du Chocolat, realizing my ultimate chocolate dream.