EUGENE, Ore. — He doesn’t look like Willy Wonka, and there aren’t any oompa-loompas, but Bob Bury’s Eugene chocolate factory is the real deal. And so is he.
He says his taste for good chocolate started when he was young. His mother and grandmother worked for chocolate companies in San Francisco. For lunch they’d give him chunks of raw chocolate broken off from 10 pound bars.
“I always tell people I got into the business to support my habit,” said Bob Bury, Euphoria Chocolate Company Owner.
With only $1,000, he and his wife, Sue, started the business in February 1980. In those days, he worked as an auto mechanic during the day and a cook at night. Now he spends most of his time developing new flavors and recipes.
“I’ve never been formally trained, but I do have a pretty good palette for flavors,” Bury said. ‘So for me, the complexity of flavors is something I really like to do…I’m always looking for ideas and different takes on it.
Euphoria doesn’t make chocolate from the bean but buys most of its raw ingredient from Merckens in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
There are chocolate buttons, but it also comes in 10-pound bars that have to be broken with a hammer. To make the center of the truffles, known as ganache, the chocolate is mixed with cream and other ingredients such as wine and cream and fruit, depending on the recipe. Much of it is from the Willamette Valley.
The ganache is poured into silicon molds and then allowed to harden. Meanwhile, other chocolate is placed in 300-pound melters and “tempered,” a process that gives it a smooth and glossy finish. That’s the chocolate used for dipping, which is done by hand without gloves so the dippers get a true sense of the chocolate’s temperature.
Not surprisingly, Valentine’s Day is the company’s busiest time of the year. On an average week, they might dip a thousand truffles a day. This week it’s closer to 8,000 a day.
Euphoria has three retail stores, including the factory outlet on Stewart Road and a new upscale location at Oakway Center. For Bob, the stores are just an extension of his life’s work. Tor the rest of us, they’re pure euphoria.