Springfield offers a whole host of interesting places to visit on a day trip and one of my favorites is the Askinosie Chocolate Factory on East Commercial Street in Springfield.

Although it is a factory, it looks more like a brewery and it smells like a coffee shop. The aroma of coffee permeates the air and you know you’re in for a treat, thanks to all the mouth-watering chocolate on the premises.

You will be able to see most of the factory from the front of the store. When you walk in, you will see the counter to the right and the rest of the factory to the left and in front of you. The building is separated into three rooms by windows and doors.

You will be able to see the packaging room, which is left and diagonal from the front of the building. You will also see a 100+ year old melangeur which the employees use to make white chocolate directly behind the counter. A Melangeuris a vintage chocolate grinding machine. The room just left of the front is where, it looks like, the employees do paperwork.

I walked in that day in the middle of a factory tour. I saw a tall man leading a group of chocolate enthusiasts around the factory. I did not tour the factory because there wasn’t enough time in my schedule, but I could see a large portion of the factory when I went in.

The owner, Shawn Askinosie, makes his chocolate out of cocoa beans from four continents: Davao, Philippines, Mababu, Tanzania, San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador, and Zamora, Amazonia.

The factory offers free samples, which makes it worth a stop if you love chocolate. I cannot have dairy and I was happily surprised to find that some dairy free and gluten free chocolates were available. This day trip truly does offer something for everyone.

Out of the chocolates I tried, my favorite was the Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar and, even though I do not like dark chocolate, I really liked this chocolate bar because the peanut butter was extra creamy. It’s 60% dark chocolate and cocoa beans from Mababu, Tanzania.

The Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar was definitely worth the calories to try. If you love peanut butter, I highly recommend it. I did try the Dark Chocolate and Red Raspberry and it was not my cup of tea. The raspberries were very much present (kick-in-your-face present). If you are a raspberry fan, you would like this; there is no way you will miss the raspberry flavor in this chocolate bar.

When I was sampling all the chocolate, I kept seeing the phrase “Chocolate University” on the walls of the factory and I wanted to know more about it. Is Chocolate University a real place? Is it an actual school? I finally found my answers on their website.

Askinosie and his team noticed numerous homeless kids in the Springfield area not far from the factory and, therefore, “were inspired to begin a program that would involve young people from our community in our small, international business, and the idea for Chocolate University was born.”

The Askinosie Chocolate Factory partners with local schools. According to the website, “Chocolate University (CU) is an experiential learning program with a worldwide reach for local students. The goal is to inspire students through the lens of artisan chocolate making to be global citizens and embrace the idea that business(es) can solve world problems. We involve neighborhood students from Boyd Elementary, Pipkin Middle School and local high schools in our business through visits to their classrooms, field trips to our factory, updates from origin, visits to origin and much more. The goal is not for these students to become bystanders during a lecture on chocolate making. It’s to provide them with a hands-on experience that takes them from the inner-workings of the factory to the cocoa bean farms across the world.”

Interested individuals can find more information about Askinosie Chocolate at their website or at the factory at 514 East Commercial Springfield.