“It’s a bit strange that it’s a flavor that’s ubiquitous, everybody’s familiar with it, and at the same time, even self-described chocoholics and chocophiles could know so much more about what’s going on.” —Cameron Ring, Co-founder of Dandelion Chocolate
Chocolate is delicious. For most, it occupies an exalted position other sweet treats only dream of achieving. It’s surprising to think, then, that all the glorious nuances present in cacao beans—the ingredient that sets chocolate apart from other sugary snacks—are actually quite foreign to our modern palates. This is because large-scale factory operations, not nature, have dictated the flavor of chocolate over the last 50 years. Mass production relies on homogeneity over nuance, and most manufacturers both mix and over-roast their cacao beans so that every bar tastes just like its machine-packaged brothers and sisters.
The result of this process is chocolate that merely alludes to the flavor most of us crave. With the help of three of our chocolate-making partners, we’re planning on celebrating National Chocolate Lovers’ Month (and one of many chocolate lovers’ most beloved celebrations: Valentine’s Day) with chocolate that emphasizes, instead of homogenizes, the exquisite flavor of cacao. Each of these producers takes special care to tailor bars to the flavor of the beans they source, ensuring that each mouthful is laden with something our taste buds have been yearning for—the flavor of real chocolate.
Dandelion Chocolate (SF)
The people at Dandelion Chocolate use small batches of single-origin cacao beans to nurture complex, nuanced flavors—flavors capable of surprising and delighting the most devout chocolate lover. Their single-origin approach allows them to focus each bar on the flavor profile of individual cacao beans from specific plots of land (yes, chocolate has terroir just like wine), working closely with farmers to create delectable chocolate that delivers distinct, cohesive flavor. Every relationship they form with producers is built around sustainability—for both the communities of the farmers and for the planet we all share.
For our San Francisco chocolate lovers, we offer a bundle of two of our favorite dark chocolate bars that come out of their small SF-based factory:
70% Ambanja, Madagascar
The beans for this bar come from Akesson’s Organic Estate in Madagascar—organic and Fair for Life certified, their farm respects sustainable agricultural practices, fair working conditions, and its local impact. This bar features notes of ripe strawberry, tart yogurt, and a sweet, peachy finish.
85% Camino Verde, Ecuador
The beans for this bar come from Camino Verde in Ecuador—organic and UTZ certified, their farm adheres to sustainable farming practices, provides quality living conditions, and respects its environmental impact. This bar is pure, chocolatey bliss, with notes of nutty, rich fudge brownie.
Letterpress Chocolate (LA)
Like the folks at Dandelion, Letterpress founders David and Corey Menkes work directly with farmers around the world to produce hand-made, small-batch, single-origin chocolate. What started in 2014 as a few tabletop melangers (special mixers designed to turn cacao beans into chocolate) in an Los Angeles apartment is now an award-winning operation—the 2017 International Chocolate Awards saw Letterpress Chocolate’s bean-to-bar confection bring home several prestigious honors, including USA Gold and World Silver. Every step of the chocolate making process is done in-house, bringing out the purest expression of each bean they source.
If you live in LA and have a love affair with chocolate, we offer one of Letterpress’s famous chocolate bars on our Marketplace:
70% Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador
Made using hand-sorted, carefully aged beans from Costa Esmeraldas—a family-owned, single estate farm in Ecuador—this 2017 Academy of Chocolate Silver Medalist and 2017 Good Food Awards Winner is coming to a pantry near you. Despite its striking color, the 70% dark chocolate is surprisingly mild and features delightfully nutty, floral notes.
At jcoco, a focus on cacao gets a culinary twist. The addition of intriguing ingredients—recommended by renowned chefs to complement the naturally outstanding flavors of their carefully sourced chocolate—unleashes a new world of unique chocolate experiences. Their flavored chocolate bars give chocolate-lovers the opportunity to encounter new, unique and inventive flavor profiles, and their chef-curated tasting flights juxtapose chocolates with different origins, allowing customers to acclimate their palates to the flavors of specific cacao beans. Dedicated to the wellbeing of our planet, they donate a serving of food to someone in need for every sale they make—almost 2.5 million to date.
Seattle chocoholics, we haven’t forgotten about you! We have one of jcoco’s exceptional flavored chocolates on our Marketplace:
Vanuatu Coconut Pecan
For this bar, they take decadent, all-natural milk chocolate and lace it with shavings of sweet dried coconut, raw pecans, and a hint of coarse sea salt. This nuanced combination creates a chewy and crunchy texture that complements the smoothness of the milk chocolate and adds deep, robust flavor.