On our most recent trip to Cologne we made a point of visiting the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum, or in English the Chocolate Museum. It had been on our list of things to do while we were in Cologne for several years, because who doesn’t love chocolate? But since we go to Cologne more to work than to be tourists we’ve continued to put it off. That is until this year. This year we had our good friend Hannah with us and since it was her first time to Cologne we decided to hit all the spots, including (finally!) the Cologne Chocolate Museum.
There is a small fee to get in, €9 for adults, and there are discounts for groups, seniors, and the disabled. If it happens to be your birthday bring your passport and you can get in for free!
The museum begins with a history of chocolate, with a special focus on chocolate production from the Cologne area. It has documents, wrappers, and all sorts of interesting items from early chocolate production in Cologne. It reminded me a lot of the small, local museums you’d find in America that highlight one particular moment in time (I’m thinking of you Donner Party).
The next part of the museum is, in my mind the most interesting part. It takes you through the production of chocolate starting at the very beginning with the cacao farmers. This part of the museum is somewhat interactive to make it more interesting for kids. There’s even a small section that houses live cacao trees that you can walk through. It’s pretty humid in there though so you might be more comfortable just looking at the trees through the glass.
Once you get through the educational bits you get to see a small scale, modern chocolate production line. I found this to be where the most interesting photos came from. The entire process was pretty fascinating to watch. One feature I really liked was that there are mirrors above some of the sections so you can see chocolate being mixed and pushed through the production line from a lower angle, like that of a child’s or someone in a wheelchair. The entire museum has teamed up with Lindt, who make amazing chocolate.
As you make your way through you get to a chocolate fountain where a Lindt employee will give dip wafers in the fountain for you to try. Usually fountain chocolate is pretty terrible, but let me tell you, this was delicious.
We then made our way upstairs where they have some chocolate molds on display and, should you so desire you can create your own custom Lindt chocolate bar. On the fairly slow day that we were there it was a 45 minute wait time from the moment you put in your order to completion. We decided to skip the (pricy) custom chocolate bar and go for some that were already made instead.
It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours in Cologne. Would I do the museum again? Only if I had someone with me who wanted to. What I would go back to though is the café that’s just inside the doors and doesn’t require you to pay the museum entrance fee.
A friend recommended that we try out the waffles there so that is exactly what my husband and I did, while Hannah had a slice of cake. If you want to look up the café it’s the CHOCOLAT Grand Café. It was the perfect ending to the museum adventure. It’s a very busy café however and we ended up sitting outside with the smokers. Which as we learned is somewhere you can sit even in a massive downpour.
How were the waffles? The bananas were starting to brown a bit, but I can’t blame them for wanting to get rid of their stock. I would prefer that over them being thrown out. But my biggest complaint, one that I’ve had since I moved to Ireland, the whipped cream isn’t sweet enough. As an American I grew up with very sweet whipped cream which I think would have made that waffle go from a 7 to 10. It was really nice, but for me that little change could have made it amazing.
Wheelchairs in the Museum
The museum is really well suited for wheelchairs and those who can’t get up stairs. There’s an elevator to help those who need it get from one floor to another, and it never feels cramped. There is one massive, MASSIVE flaw with the building however. The only wheelchair friendly toilet stall is in the men’s room. That’s right, I had to go into the men’s toilet to use the bathroom. To make it even worse the stall is at the back, so you have to go past the row of urinals, making for an awkward situation. If you’re a woman in a wheelchair make sure you use the bathroom before you go and hope you don’t need it again until after you leave. It was a pretty gross smelling bathroom.
The Cologne Chocolate Museum was a fun little trip. I certainly wouldn’t say that it’s a must see, but if you’re spending a decent amount of time in Cologne and you’re a fan of chocolate then it is certainly worth going to.