Frey Chocolate Visitor Center

Frey Chocolate recently opened a visitor center in Buchs, happily only 40 mins from Zurich. This is a great alternative to the Cailler chocolate factory for those of us in eastern Switzerland. I thought Frey’s visitor center was very well done and the kids had a lot of fun with the interactive exhibits. The best part was the workshop, where we made our own chocolate bars. Though I prefer eating Cailler chocolate, I also prefer the shorter drive to Frey. So I think we’ll be taking all our visitors here instead. Get the inside scoop below.

Location:   Zurich Region
Address: Bresteneggstr 5, 5033 Buchs, AG-CH
Car: ~40 mins from Zurich
Train: ~40 mins from Zurich
Open: Tue – Sun 10:00 – 17:00
Cost (2016): museum only: adult CHF 12, child CHF 6, under 6 free
family discount available
with chocolate workshop: adult CHF 24, child aged 3 to 16 CHF 19
Family discounts available.
More info: www.chocolatfrey.ch

Overview

The main attraction at the Frey visitor center, aka Besuchszentrum, is their interactive museum, aka Erlebniswelt, which has a self-guided audio tour, educating you about their chocolate making process, as well as a variety of interactive exhibits related to chocolate, a few games, and an all-you-can-eat chocolate bar. Out front, there is a small cafe and a chocolate shop with all Frey’s many offerings.

Frey also has a chocolate workshop, aka Schoggi Giessen, where you make two enormous chocolate bars. This costs extra and requires advance reservations, which you can do on their website (in German or French). I recommend doing the chocolate workshop first, as you must wait 30-60 mins for the chocolate to set before taking it home. More details below.

See the Frey website for current prices and opening times. We visited in April 2015, so things may have changed since then. Let me know if they have.

Getting There

By car, drive to Bresteneggstr. 4 Buchs and park in the metered lot next to the Frey chocolate factory. By public transportation, take a train to Aarau, then bus #1 towards Buchs. It takes about the same time as driving.

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Chocolate Workshop

If you want to do the chocolate workshop, aka “Schoggi Giessen,” make sure to reserve in advance. The workshops are held four times a day, 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:30. The workshop lasts about 20 mins and your chocolate bars must set for 30 – 60 mins after the class, so plan on visiting the interactive museum while you wait.

First, the instructor will give instructions, show some samples and show the mix-ins. Our instructor spoke both German and English during our session. The process is pretty simple. You have have white, milk, and/or dark chocolate poured into your mold. You can first line the mold with some mix-ins and/or sprinkle/stir the mix-ins after you pour in the chocolate. The mix-ins include a variety of nuts, coconut, dried fruit, etc. You can also get a little tube of liquid chocolate to draw on our chocolate bar. There are sticks so you can swirl the chocolate.

Here we are with the empty molds and full molds. Each person makes two big bars.

Here are some of the samples they showed us. We could taste samples with mix-ins to help us decide what we wanted to mix-in. I think it would be helpful to show your kids this before they go, so they can have some creative ideas before the workshop. My kids felt under pressure and had a hard time coming up with designs.

Here are a couple of our finished bars.

Chocolate Museum

When you enter the museum, you’ll be given an audio guide (included in the entrance price), which activates itself at the various stations.

In contrast to the Cailler museum, I think Frey focuses less on chocolate making and more on the chocolate business, aka marketing, the factory, sourcing ingredients, etc. I also found that interesting but the kids and I did miss seeing more machines in action. There was only one demo machine showing the conching process (shown below).

Everyone gravitated to the chocolate bar, which had a chocolate fountain with dried fruit on sticks to dip in. That was fun! I personally don’t love Frey chocolate and I prefer dark chocolate, of which they didn’t have much, so I didn’t eat very much. My kids didn’t eat that much either, not sure why.

On the left, cacao pod phones that tell you stories. On the right, a weird game where you virtually throw chocolate ingredients into the air. We spent a long time in that booth trying to beat the high score.

A large magnetic word wall in multiple languages – all about chocolate!

My favorite exhibit was the smell booth, where you could smell different chocolate ingredients and guess what it was. I was surprised how many I got wrong. Some smelled disgusting.

I made my boys pose in this ridiculous chocolate box. Totally worth it!

There’s a photo booth that makes funny chocolate versions of your photo. You can have this photo made into a chocolate bar for a cool 17 CHF.

This machine spits out your chocolate type and a recipe after answering a lot of questions about your personality.

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