"Our production processes have remained unchanged for 50 years – and we are proud of that"

Hanspeter Scherrer is a keeper of secrets by profession. He has worked as production manager at Kägi for 17 years. "Our secret is the chocolate", divulges the 49-year-old. Anyone can produce chocolate wafers. No company however puts as much effort and patience into the process as Kägi – and you can taste it. This is an interview about exquisite flavour – and an attempt to prize a secret from Hanspeter Scherrer.

Mr Scherrer, the Kägi company has existed for 80 years. And its recipes have hardly changed in all that time. Doesn't that make things boring for you?

Not at all! Why should we change something that already tastes sublime? Or do you find the taste objectionable?

No, certainly not, but hardly no other food is still made as it was in 1934.

And that's a shame. Quality and especially the taste of many foods have fallen by the wayside over the course of time. Take the bread rolls your baker sells for instance; in many cases these have come to be supplied as ready-made raw dough products.

What makes your chocolate different from others?

We do everything ourselves. The dried cocoa beans are delivered to us in 50 kilogram jute sacks, just as they were decades ago. They are still in their raw state. After being cleaned we roast the beans carefully at 130 degrees C. This gives rise to up to 400 aromatic substances. The cocoa liquor that is produced from this is the basic ingredient in our Kägi chocolate.

What still needs to be added?

Precious cocoa butter, milk powder, hazelnuts and sugar. All of which are natural ingredients.

But what is it that makes your chocolate so special?

It's all in the conching. This refers to the careful kneading of the chocolate mixture. The heart of our factory in Lichtensteig is the conching room.  No other part of the factory smells as good as it does here. Kägi's chocolate is kneaded evenly for at least 48 hours. The friction involved in this process heats the chocolate to around 40 degrees C.

Other chocolate manufacturers will only conch for twelve hours.

We could in fact also shorten this process. But as a traditional Swiss company, we don't want to go down that route. We are convinced that the longer we conch the chocolate, the smoother it becomes and the better it tastes. During conching, the chocolate loses its bitter compounds. This process however takes time – time that we are more than pleased to take in the Kägi factory. Our production processes have remained unchanged for 50 years, and we are proud of that.

It's certainly not inexpensive.

We use the finest-grade cocoa beans from South America and Africa and we take a lot of time and care in producing our chocolate. It's an approach that costs us money. But that's just what our customers appreciate.

How do you actually make the dark chocolate for the Kägi Dark?

Here, we just dispense with the addition of milk powder; the remainder of the manufacturing process is identical.

There's just one final question: What exactly is the secret of the perfect Kägi recipe?

Mmm ... it's so smooth. Sorry, I'm just eating a Kägi, and it's really hard to speak at the same time...

18. October 2014