All of My Valentine's Day Stories in One Place

Stick With Me's fabulous bonbons (image courtesy the Kitchn)

Stick With Me's fabulous bonbons (image courtesy the Kitchn)

This year the mainstream media has wholeheartedly embraced bean-to-bar chocolate, which has made this an extra-special Valentine’s Day for me. In fact, I’m going to let their stories speak for themselves. Here they are!

Stories I Wrote

The Best Milk Chocolate Treats for Grown-Ups (The Kitchn)

How Chocolate Gendered Packaging (Print Magazine)

A Beginner’s Guide to Craft Chocolate (Wine Enthusiast)

How to Build the Ultimate Chocolate Tasting Plate (Tasting Table)

Chocolate Truffle Torte (Tasting Table)


Stories That Feature My Book and Me

Bean-to-Bar Trivia Everyone with a Sweet Tooth Should Know (America’s Test Kitchen)

These Local Bean-to-Bar Makers Have You Covered for Valentine’s Day (Los Angeles Magazine)

Book Giveaway (Edible Nashville)

Caramelized White Chocolate Is for People Who Hate White Chocolate (Eater)

‘I get so tired of pink’: female chocolatiers turn to death for Valentine’s day (The Guardian)

Chocolate Pairings: Tips from a Fine Cacao Expert (Perfect Daily Grind)

8 High-Quality Chocolates You Should Buy for Valentine’s Day (Men’s Journal)

Episode 27: I Love You So Much Podcast (Austin American-Statesman)
Stephen Fries: Show your love with fine chocolate (Middletown Press)

Surprise your valentine with homemade truffles (Bucks Local News)

Visions of (Chocolate-Coated) Sugar Plums

People keep sending me photos of their babies reading my book, and I love it! This is from Arcelia Gallardo, the founder of Mission Chocolate. She says she's been carrying my book around in her diaper bag for easy access.

People keep sending me photos of their babies reading my book, and I love it! This is from Arcelia Gallardo, the founder of Mission Chocolate. She says she's been carrying my book around in her diaper bag for easy access.

This has been a fantastic year for bean-to-bar chocolate, and I can’t wait to see what next year brings. But before I peace out for the holidays, I wanted to share a couple fun things with you.

Collaboration with Zingerman’s


Zingerman’s calls my book "the definitive guide to American craft chocolate making," which is such a nice compliment! We've put together a delicious bundle of my book with three of my favorite chocolate bars, Fruition’s Brown Butter bar, Askinosie’s Single-Origin 72% Tanzania bar, and Dick Taylor’s 72% Single-Origin Belize bar. It’s a perfect gift for the holidays and will be available through Valentine’s Day as well.

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate in the Press

My book has been getting more great press!

"Sweet Move for Chocolate Maker" (featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 2017)

"Drinking Chocolates for Winter" (featured in Imbibe magazine, December 2017)

Small Bites — Episode 71 (featured on Small Bites radio show, at 43:50 mark, December 2017)

"Have an Interest in Craft Chocolate? Join the Revolution" (featured in The Daily Herald, November 2017)

"New Book Highlights Craft Chocolate, Shops, Makers" (featured in Luxury Travel Review, November 2017)

"Bean-to-Bar Chocolate" (featured on KATU morning show in Portland, November, 2017)

"Bean-to-Bar Chocolate" (featured on 9News morning show in Denver, November 2017)

"Author Visits Winston-Salem to Promote Craft Chocolate" (featured in Winston-Salem Journal, November 2017)

"The Ultimate 2017 Holiday Product Gift Guide" (featured on BuzzFeed, October 2017)

"'Bean-to-Bar Chocolate' author shares her favorite NYC chocolatiers" (featured on amNew York, October 2017)

"Fruition, All About the Flavor" and "Fruition's Olive Oil Sourdough Truffles" (featured in Edible Hudson Valley, October 2017)

"The Most Delicious Chocolates to Buy Now, According to America's Best Craft Chocolate Makers" (featured on, October 2017)

"Woodstock Radio: Episode 158" (featured on Woodstock Booktalk Radio with Jennifer Egan and Dermot Meagher, October 2017)

Meanwhile I’ve been writing about chocolate makers, their obsession with technology, and the fantastic books they publish for Engadget and Forbes.

"Geeks Are Using Science to Make the Best Chocolate Ever" (Engadget, about Dandelion, Amano, Fresco, Patric, and more!)

“4 Lessons for Entrepreneurs to Make Work Meaningful — and Profitable” (Forbes, about Shawn Askinosie’s new book)

“Here’s How to Change Your Industry With a Branded Book” (Forbes, about Dandelion’s new book)

Results From the Chocolate Quiz

The talented folks at Storey Publishing put together this fun quiz based on my new book, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolutionto help you find your favorite type of craft chocolate bar. 

I’m pleased to say that everyone has found it pretty dang accurate so far; here are some results that people sent me:

Deborah Kwan (Guittard’s PR rep): “Dark Milk Chocolate, which is surprisingly accurate!”

Morgan Reed: “This was a nice surprise to see in my email inbox and the thought of quizzes take me back to my middle school days when all I wanted to do was answer fantasy or animal Quizilla quizzes and find out more about myself. Baha. I love it. Anyway! The quiz results told me I love nutty chocolate and I cannot say that is wrong. :) Though I’m also curious what the other craft chocolate results were. I’m really looking forward to the chocolate bar recommendations (Amano Chocolate’s Ocumare Village bar and Dandelion Chocolate’s Mantuano, Venezuela bar). The chocolate suggestions were very appreciated. I wonder if The Meadow will have these…”

WKND Chocolate: “She's @MeganGiller outed me! I got milk chocolate :) What's yours?”

Dormouse Chocolates: “Karen got dark milks and I got nutty darks, pretty accurate!”

Charmaine McFarlane: dark milk chocolate; “...Collecting and tasting chocolate is becoming my new pastime.”

And to All, a Good Night

I hope you are all able to take some time off this season and enjoy what you’ve accomplished. I for one am going to take a week-long nap. I’m brainstorming my next season/series on Chocolate Noise, and you may notice that it’s a little quieter than usual around here in the beginning of 2018. Rest assured that something fun is coming.

See you next year!




(Note: This story contains affiliate links.)

New Chocolate Books for the Holidays!


Hello, chocolate lovers. I’ve missed you! I finished up my book tour in November in Seattle and Portland, but I’ve been sleeping for a couple of weeks (eating chocolate is hard work) and haven’t posted. But before I tell y’all how the rest of the cross-country tour went, I have an announcement…

While I Was Sleeping… Three New Chocolate Books!

This is a joyous moment, because 2017 is officially the Year of the Craft Chocolate Book. In addition to my book, MORE chocolate books have been published, each unique and quite different in its focus.

Dandelion Chocolate’s book, Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S’more, is a gorgeous glimpse into the Dandelion process. It reveals in exacting detail just how to make chocolate, the Dandelion way, and will be immensely useful for all of you nascent chocolate makers out there. (For example: There are plans for how to build your own winnower with PVC pipe.) Also don’t miss the section on sourcing as well as mouthwatering recipes from their café.

Dandelion celebrated its opening in New York with a one-week pop-up featuring hot chocolate, baked goods, and books, and it was truly delicious.

Askinosie Chocolate also just published a book. Called Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul, by Shawn Askinosie with Lawren Askinosie, it details Shawn’s journey to create a business that changes the world for the better and shapes his life in a positive way. The best part: Shawn teaches you along the way how to create this kind of life for yourself, with advice that rings true and exercises to help you get there. It’s about the chocolate, but so much more.

Meanwhile Professor Kristy Leissle (aka the Doc of Chocolate) is publishing a book called Cocoa that examines chocolate from a sociopolitical point of view. It’s part of Wiley’s Polity Resources Series (other titles include Cotton and Oil), and I cannot wait to read it. It comes out in the spring and promises to be a game-changer.

The Northwest Junction of the Cross-Country Tour

A few weeks ago at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, I chatted about those chocolate books on a panel with Greg D’Alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate, Lawren Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate, and Professor Kristy Leissle. Jael Rattigan of French Broad Chocolates was the best moderator any of us had ever seen and asked us smart, informed questions about our new books.

We also hung out with the whole industry at Indi Chocolate, where Dandelion and I had a joint book release party. So much good food and conversation!

Then in Portland it was a party, with a chocolate and beer pairing night at Ex Novo Brewing featuring Cocanú and BatchPDX with some kickass beers and a fun open house with chocolate and coffee at Ranger Chocolate with Trailhead Coffee Roasters (of course he served his coffee off of his bike).

The three-week extravaganza ended with a bang at Creo, with an Underground Chocolate Salon featuring every Portland chocolate maker and a full house.

Now I’m back in New York, hosting a few more events and hanging in until the holidays.

Speaking of the Holidays: Get Your Chocolate + Book Bundle

Bar & Cocoa has packaged my book with some of my favorite bars, which obviously makes a perfect holiday present. Think Askinosie Dark Chocolate w/ Crunchy Sugar & Vanilla, Amano Dos Rios, Dick Taylor Madagascar, Dandelion Mantuano Venezuela, Fruition Maranon Canyon Dark Milk, and Raaka Ghost Pepper.

(Note: This story contains affiliate links.)



Watch Me on TV, and More Book Tour Dates

Me, the open road, and lots of chocolate: That pretty much sums up the past week or so, as long as "lots of chocolate" also includes all the people who have been helping me eat it along the way. 

First I indulged in a three-course chocolate dinner in Richmond, Virginia, at Camden's Dogtown Market, co-hosted by Fountain Books: Think a chocolate and cheese course featuring Harper Macaw and Point Reyes blue cheese, pasta in a chocolate-lamb ragu, and a single-origin brownie trio (recipe from Dandelion, in the book!). Then I was off to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a chocolate and spirit pairing evening with Black Mountain Chocolate and Broad Branch Distilling, including tours of both factories.

Next I visited Videri in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a quick tour and to sign some books (get your copies at their cafe!), then moved on to Asheville. French Broad Chocolates rolled out the red carpet with me for a jumpin' open house at their factory with cupcakes, hot chocolate, savory treats from the Rhu, and guided chocolate tastings by yours truly. After that FBC and I walked over to Catawba Brewing for a night of chocolate and beer pairings, featuring their gorgeous bonbons.

I capped off my tour of the South with a four-course chocolate dinner at Asheville's James Beard Award-winning restaurant Rhubarb, featuring French Broad Chocolates. We devoured rye bread made with cocoa nibs and 100% chocolate, smeared in cocoa nib butter; delectable cocoa-nib-crusted bison in a light but hearty mole sauce; and Nicaraguan chocolate budino under a shiitake mushroom cake with candied shiitakes and brown butter ice cream, to name a few dishes.

Then I moved on to Colorado, where I popped in to 9News to hang out on Colorado and Company, the video you watched up at the top of the post.

I had a great time with WKND Chocolate and Cultura Craft Chocolate at my talk and tasting at Tattered Cover in Denver, and a blast with Nuance Chocolate at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins.

Now I'm in Seattle for an over-the-top chocolatey weekend, aka the Northwest Chocolate Festival and other fun plans in Emerald City. Then I'll be finishing up this leg of the tour in Portland. Here are some upcoming events!

11/11/2017, 12 PM: Panel at Northwest Chocolate Festival: "Hot Off the Presses: 4 New Must-Read Chocolate Books" (Seattle, WA)

11/13/2017, 5-7 PM: Chocolate Tasting and Book Signing at Indi Chocolate (Seattle, WA)

11/14/2017, 11 AM-12:30 PM: Guided Chocolate Tasting at Fran's Chocolates (Seattle, WA)

11/16/2017, 7-9 PM: Chocolate and Beer Pairing at Ex Novo Brewing (Portland, OR)

11/17/2017, 5-7 PM: Book Signing at Serra Dispensary (Portland, OR)

11/18/2017, 1-3 PM: Book Release Party With Chocolate and Coffee at Ranger Chocolate (Portland, OR)

11/18/2017, 7-9 PM: Underground Chocolate Salon Featuring Portland Chocolate Makers at Creo (Portland, OR)


Decadent Chocolate Photos, Babies With My Book, and Upcoming Events

The past two weeks have been filled with delicious chocolate and fun conversations as I travel the country on my book tour.

Over the weekend I partied with Fruition Chocolate in upstate New York at their sixth anniversary party and ate more than my fair share of their special ice cream sandwiches: Think single-origin Marañon milk chocolate ice cream sandwiched between two house-made chocolate chip cookies (made with their brown butter milk chocolate and Hispaniola).

Then it was off to the 92Y for a chocolate talk and tasting with Michael Laiskonis, who brought bean-to-bar samples from the Chocolate Lab at the Institute of Culinary Education.

We also indulged in recipes from the book, plus some: triple chocolate chip cookies and double fudge cookies from Miro Uskokovic at Gramercy Tavern and white chocolate hazelnut mousse in pineapple cups and hazelnut-praline + honey caramel candy bars from pastry chef and chocolatier Kristofer Kalas.

Also this week, Chocolopolis premiered two bundles featuring my book: The Assorted Chocolate Bundle comes with a copy of my book and six chocolate bars:

  • Fresco Madagascar 100% Dark Chocolate
  • Askinosie Tanzanie 70% Dark Chocolate
  • Dandelion Mantuano, Venezuela 70% Dark Chocolate
  • Madre Triple Cacao (Guatemala) 70% Dark Chocolate with Cacao Fruit Pulp and Cacao Nibs
  • Fruition Brown Butter 43% Milk Chocolate
  • Patric Habenero Sea Salt (Madagascar) 67% Dark Chocolate

And the Serious Dark Chocolate Bundle comes with my book and six intense dark chocolates:

  • Grenada 100% Dark Chocolate 
  • Soma Crazy 88 (Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru) 88% Dark Chocolate 
  • Amano Dos Rios (Dominican Republic) 70% Dark Chocolate 
  • Askinosie San Jose del Tambo, Ecuador 70% Dark Chocolate 
  • Madre Nine Fine Mynah Estates (Wailua, Oahu, Hawaii) 70% Dark Chocolate 
  • Patric Madagascar 75% Dark Chocolate 

And now for an unexpected trend: People are sending me photos of their babies reading my book!

That cutie in the middle is actually Zoey Graham, the latest addition to Fruition Chocolate!

Last but not least, I’m traveling to the South and have some fun events coming up in the next week or so.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, Oct. 29: Three-Course Chocolate Dinner (Richmond, VA)

Monday, Oct. 30: Spirits and Chocolate Pairing With Black Mountain Chocolate (Winston-Salem, NC)

Thursday, Nov. 2: Open House at French Broad Chocolates (Asheville, NC)

Thursday, Nov. 2: Beer and Chocolate Pairing With French Broad Chocolates (Asheville, NC)

Sunday, Nov. 5: Four-Course Chocolate Sunday Supper at Rhubarb (Asheville, NC)

See you there!

Notes From the Underground Chocolate Salon and a GIVEAWAY

Last week a big group of us gathered at Roni-Sue's Chocolates in Manhattan for another edition of the Underground Chocolate Salon. But before we get to the details, I have a giveaway to share for 10 lucky New Yorkers!


Delicious dessert photos by Jody Horton, from my book!

This Monday I'll be leading a chocolate tasting at the 92Y with Michael Laiskonis, featuring the bean-to-bar chocolate he makes at the Institute of Culinary Education. We'll also be snacking on recipes from the book: triple chocolate chip cookies from Miro Uskokovic of Gramercy Tavern and white chocolate mousse in pineapple cups from my bud and chocolatier Kristofer Kalas, plus a bonus double chocolate fudge cookie from Miro. Kitchen Arts & Letters will also be there selling books, and I'll be signing. Tickets are $29, but we're giving away 10 starting now. Email me at NOW if you want to come!

Underground Chocolate Salon


I’ve always been jealous of Paris in the 1920s, when artistic and literary luminaries gathered at Gertrude Stein’s house to talk and hang out: Picasso, Cézanne, Joyce, Eliot, Cocteau. Only one thing would have made it better: chocolate. That’s why I started what I’m calling the Underground Chocolate Salon, for like-minded (or not so like-minded) people to get together and talk chocolate, as well as enjoy one another’s company.

This time the theme was chocolate made at origin (i.e., where cacao grows, 20 degrees above and below the Equator). We started out tasting Moho Chocolate, a bean-to-bar maker in Belize. Rhonda Kave, the owner of Roni-Sue, is part owner of the company and uses the chocolate to make some of her confections. She had whole roasted beans for us to try as well as a dark milk straight out of the melangeur, plus a 69 percent, 72 percent, and raspberry bonbon, all made with the same beans. Pretty cool to trace it from bean to bonbon and taste the differences at each stage, like in this video that I made that was published on Saveur recently.

Moho 69% Single-Origin Belize

A little cinnamon or winter spicy, dried red fruit, pomegranate, winey, raisin

Moho 72% Single-Origin Belize

Roasty, cocoa, coffee, maple syrup, raspberry and pomegranate

Raspberry Bonbon Made With Moho Single-Origin Belize and Valrhona

Can taste the raspberry seeds, very berry, bright, sweet, crowd favorite

Tuanis 75% Single-Origin Talamanca, Costa Rica

Earthy, toasty, highly tannic, smooth mouthfeel, orange/kumquat finish; one particularly poetic attendee described the experience as "waiting for something to come that doesn't happen, like in love"

Ta.cho 71% Single-Origin Soconusco

Red wine, tannic, astringent, pepper, smoky, very smooth but doesn't melt smoothly in mouth

We also tried a brand-new maker's bar that used unfermented beans from Belize. Apparently after harvesting, the pulp is washed off the raw beans and then they are immediately dried (kind of like in coffee). It tasted like Turkish coffee, smoky espresso, and bacon. What do you think about using unfermented cacao to make chocolate?

New York Coffee Festival

On Sunday I headed to the New York Coffee Festival to talk about craft chocolate. They were expecting about 25 people at my talk (it was Sunday afternoon after three days of caffeine, after all) but had to pull up chairs to seat 60 to 70! I was surprised and excited to find that the audience was so well-informed about things like single origins, terroir, and more, and they loved the roasted cocoa beans and bars I shared. So much curiosity and good questions!

Do You Want a Poster of the Map From My Book?


If you're a chocolate educator, run a cafe or shop, or would be able to use this map in any other way, email me your mailing address and my publisher will send you a poster for free! Email: I'm sending them the final list next Friday, October 27, so be sure to reach out before then.

More Press and Upcoming Tour Dates

Photo by Jody Horton

Photo by Jody Horton

This past weekend was an incredible blur of fun events, delicious chocolate, and chatting with people about the craft movement. But before we get to that, I want to tell you about two upcoming events that I'm SUPER STOKED about!

On Saturday, October 21, I'll be celebrating Fruition's 6th annual open house and tasting at their shop and factory in Shokan, NY. I'll be signing books and feasting on chocolate as well as refreshments from Tuthilltown Spirits, Westkill Brewing, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, Bread Alone, Cheese Louise, The Hudson Standard, and ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixers. Join us from 5 to 9 PM! RSVP here.

On Monday, October 23, I'll be teaming up with James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Laiskonis for a guided chocolate tasting and talk at the 92Y in NYC. We'll be tasting three bean-to-bar chocolate bars that Michael makes at his chocolate lab at the Institute of Culinary Education. Plus, we'll be sampling recipes from the book! Pastry chef Miro Uskokovic of Gramercy Tavern is making two types of chocolate-chip cookies, including his triple chocolate-chip cookie recipe from the book (pictured above), and pastry chef and chocolatier Kristofer Kalas is making his white chocolate mousse in pineapple cups from the book. Kitchen Arts and Letters will be selling books. 

Now here are some photos from the weekend's reveries. On Friday I spoke on the author panel at the Big Chocolate Show and hung out with Johnny Iuzzini, who is premiering his new bean-to-bar chocolate brand. Then on Saturday I was off to the New Atlantic Booksellers Association meeting, where I had a table and chocolate from Dandelion, Bar Au Chocolat, and Taza. People were so excited about bean to bar, and about the book! It was cool to get that information in people's hands.

And on Monday, I teamed up with Raaka and Threes Brewing for a chocolate-and-beer pairing. About 70 people came to enjoy the refreshments and the guided tastings. It was a blast!

The book has also been getting some great press! Here's the latest:

"Your Raw Cacao Isn't as Healthy as You Think: Debunking the Myths of the Chocolate Industry" (featured on MindBodyGreen, October 2017)

"Chocolate Snobs Don't Eat Milk Chocolate (And Other Myths Debunked)" (featured on the Refresh, October 2017)

"Fuhmentaboutit! Podcast: Episode 216" (featured on Fuhmentaboutit, October 2017)

"Chopped: Episode 145: Expand Your Audience by Going Niche" (featured on Chopped Academy, October 2017)

More Book Tour Events, Including the Underground Chocolate Salon


Happy Thursday, y'all! In the past few weeks I've been hosting chocolate parties and tastings all over the place to celebrate my new book. Here are some photos, as well as details about next week's events.

Here I am in Boston at Porter Square Books, where a very engaged audience asked smart questions and tasted Taza Chocolate with me. The highlight of the trip: This drawing/notes from my talk from the talented author Marika McCoola!

On Sunday, October 1, I headed to the Meadow for coffee and chocolate pairings to celebrate more. We had a great crowd that filled up the store, and it was so much fun to hear directly from the chocolate makers themselves: Both Fruition Chocolate and Raaka Chocolate came and shared samples and their stories. Counter Culture Coffee poured some great drinks and told us all about their amazing sourcing practices and bold flavors.

I also have some fun things coming up in New York next week! 

Chocolate and Beer Pairing Party at Threes Brewing With Raaka Chocolate

We'll have free samples, a guided tasting, and plenty of hangout time. Buy your ticket ahead of time here and get a copy of the book and a pint of beer for $20! The list price of the book is $20, so this is a steal!

Underground Chocolate Salon

This one will be at Roni-Sue's Chocolates. It's free, but spaces are limited, so RSVP immediately by emailing me at

Excited to see y'all soon!

(Note: This story contains affiliate links)

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate in the Press

Photo by Spencer Selvidge

Guys, my book, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America's Craft Chocolate Revolution, is getting some play in the press! From a feature in Bon Appetit to a Q&A in Saveur, here are 13 stories about the book. In other words, we're spreading the word about craft chocolate and how freaking great it is. 

Where would you like to see bean-to-bar chocolate featured? Tell me at or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and I'll try my best to make it happen!


"How to Read a Chocolate Bar Label to Buy the Best Chocolate" (featured on, September 2017)

"The Future of $10 Chocolate" (featured on, September 2017)

"Why You Should Eat Chocolate in the Morning" (featured on Extra Crispy, September 2017)

"6 Ways Craft Chocolate Is Disrupting the Food Industry" (featured on Forbes, September 2017)

"People Are Aging Chocolate in Bourbon Barrels and We're Obsessed" (featured on VinePair, September 2017)

"The Top 50 Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers in the United States" (featured on Food Republic, September 2017)

"5 Essential Stops for Chocolate in Brooklyn" (featured in Edible Brooklyn, September 2017)

"How to Read Chocolate Bar Labels to Make Sure You're Getting the Best Stuff" (featured on Life Hacker, September 2017)

"Q&A With Megan Giller, Author of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate" (featured in The Boston Globe, September 2017)

"Chocolate for the Chocoholics" (featured in Illustration News, September 2017)

"How to Pick the Best Chocolate Bar Your Money Can Buy" (featured on Bloomberg, August 2017)

"The Biggest Cookbooks of Fall 2017" (featured on Eater, August 2017)

"What Do We Really Know About Chocolate's Health Benefits?" (featured on Food52, August 2017)

(Note: This story contains affiliate links)

Photos: My Book Tour Is a Big Chocolate Party

Chocolate and beer party at Hops & Grain, photo by Spencer Selvidge

Chocolate and beer party at Hops & Grain, photo by Spencer Selvidge

I've been partying it up in Dallas and Austin, celebrating the release of my book, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America's Craft Chocolate Revolution, over good chocolate, cheese, and beer. Plus my friend and photographer Spencer Selvidge came along for the treats in Austin. Here are photos of the festivities!


Here I am signing books at the Dallas Chocolate Festival and hanging with the Dick Taylor guys.

Then it was on to a private tasting party (from the giveaway!) and a night of chocolate, cheese, and books at Scardello's Cheese, in Dallas.


I had the flu the night of the Underground Chocolate Salon at Chocolaterie Tessa, but Tessa Halstead, Bob Williamson of SRSLY Chocolate, and Professor Romi Burks held down the fort and delighted salon-goers with a bean-to-bar-to-bonbon tasting!

Saturday I was back! Lawren Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate and I partnered with Antonelli's Cheese for a sold-out chocolate-cheese pairing evening, with some seriously delicious pairings. The crowd favorite was white chocolate with manchego: They melded into one amazing mouthful.

Last but certainly not least, on Sunday I headed to Hops & Grain Brewing for chocolate, beer, and bands. Think two beer pairings, a coffee pairing, and live music from two bands. 

This weekend I'll be in Boston! On Friday night I'm teaming up with Taza Chocolate for a tasting and book signing at Porter Square Books, and on Saturday I'll be at the Let's Talk About Food festival, making Cocanu's recipe for Pop Rocks Chocolate Bark and signing books (my demo is at 10:40 AM). See you there!

(Photos of events at Chocolaterie Tessa, Antonelli's, and Hops & Grain by Spencer Selvidge)

(Note: This story contains affiliate links)

My Top 50 Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers in the United States


My book, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America's Craft Chocolate Revolution, is now officially published! To celebrate, I'm releasing my list of the top 50 bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the United States from my book. Read on to see if your favorite maker made the cut!

Come on, admit it. I know you have a favorite chocolate maker. Everyone does, and opinions range widely. That’s why I’m calling this list “my top makers.” I’m not claiming that this is The Exclusive List of the best bean-to-bar makers ever; rather, they’re the ones that I personally think are worth trying and visiting (if they’re open to the public).

I’ve listed them in alphabetical order and divided them into tiny, small, medium, large, and giant — loose categories to give you a sense of whether they’re a one-person operation or a 200-person conglomerate. Tiny generally means it’s a one- or two-person shop without much distribution. Small- and medium-size makers have a few more employees as well as a retail location and/or café. Large makers have dozens of employees, a space where the public can visit, and good distribution. And giant makers have many employees (around 100), great distribution, and sometimes even wholesale or private-label businesses.

Find basic information about each maker below, and read more about many of them throughout the book.

Acalli Chocolate

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Year Founded: 2015

Founder: Carol Morse

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Small collection of two-ingredient bars. All beans are sourced from a co-op in northern Peru.

Amano Artisan Chocolate

Location: Orem, Utah

Year Founded: 2005

Founder: Art Pollard

Size: Small

Visit: No

Products: Single-origin bars, especially from Venezuela, and some inclusion bars. Made with added cocoa butter and vanilla. Some private-label products. Provides to restaurants like Chez Panisse.


Location: Milpitas, California

Year Founded: 2015

Founders: David and Leslie Senk

Size: Small

Visit: No

Products: Large collection of single-origin bars.

Askinosie Chocolate

Location: Springfield, Missouri

Year Founded: 2006

Founder: Shawn Askinosie

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and shop.

Products: Single-origin (especially from Tanzania and the Philippines) and inclusion bars as well as collaboration bars made with other artisan makers. Milk chocolate and even white chocolate.

Bar Au Chocolat

Location: Manhattan Beach, California

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Nicole Trutanich

Size: Tiny

Visit: Yes! Check out the café and factory tours.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars, some milk chocolate, and chocolate-related products (granola!).

Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker

Location: Burlington, Vermont

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Eric Lampman (father Jim Lampman founded Lake Champlain Chocolates)

Size: Tiny, but owned by giant chocolate manufacturer Lake Champlain

Visit: You can visit Lake Champlain’s factory but not Blue Bandana’s.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars with a few inclusion bars, chocolate chips, and roasted nibs.

Brasstown Fine Artisan Chocolate

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Rom Still and Barbara Price

Size: Tiny

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and shop.

Products: Single-origin bars as well as inclusion bars with interesting ingredients like dried blueberries.

Cacao Prieto

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Daniel Prieto Preston

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory with antique machines and the small shop, as well as tours on the weekends and by appointment.

Products: Single-origin bars, inclusion bars, couverture, hot chocolate, and nibs, all using cocoa from the Dominican Republic.

Castronovo Chocolate

Location: Stuart, Florida

Year Founded: 2012

Founders: Denise and James Castronovo

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the shop.

Products: Focuses on rare heirloom beans and single-origin bars. If you visit the shop you can also try and buy truffles, cookies, drinking chocolate, and more.

Charm School Chocolate

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Year Founded: 2012

Founder: Joshua Rosen

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Vegan bars with lots of fun inclusions and other products (think toffee almond bites).

Chequessett Chocolate

Location: North Truro, Massachusetts

Year Founded: 2014

Founders: Katie Reed and Josiah Mayo

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the café with plenty of special desserts and confections.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars and bonbons as well as drinking chocolate, nibs, and beans.

Cocanú Chocolate

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year Founded: 2009

Founder: Sebastián Cisneros

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Inclusion bars with creative ingredients like bee pollen, Palo Santo wood, and Pop Rocks (see page 189 for a recipe).

Dandelion Chocolate

Location: San Francisco, California

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and café.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars. If you visit the café you can also try brownies, cookies, and drinking chocolates.

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate

Location: Eureka, California

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the shop and factory for tours.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars and some inclusion bars, as well as drinking chocolate and baking chocolate.


Location: Wasatch
Range, Utah

Year Founded: 2015

Founder: Eric Durtschi, founder of Crio Bru (a cocoa drink brewed like coffee)

Size: Tiny, but owned by large company Crio Bru

Visit: No, but you can check out Crio Bru, its parent company, at its shop in Lindon and take tours there.

Products: Single-origin bars made with added cocoa butter.

Escazu Artisan Chocolates

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Year Founded: 2008

Founders: Hallot Parson and Danielle Centeno

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the café.

Products: Single-origin bars, inclusion bars, and bonbons. If you visit the store, you’ll also find ice cream, drinking chocolate, and more.

Ethereal Confections

Location: Woodstock, Illinois

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Mary Ervin, Sara Miller, and Michael Ervin

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the café.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars, plus many confections, baking mixes, cookies, and more, available online and at the café.

French Broad Chocolates

Location: Asheville, North Carolina

Year Founded: Café concept founded 2008, chocolate factory founded 2012

Founders: Dan and Jael Rattigan

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out their lounge, factory, and boutique with a huge collection of bars from other makers too.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars and some inclusion bars with ingredients like coffee and malted milk, as well truffles, brownies, toffee, and drinking and baking chocolate online, plus cakes, cookies, and more in the lounge.


Location: Lynden, Washington

Year Founded: 2008

Founder: Rob Anderson

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Single-origin bars that specify their roasting style and conching style, so you can get super nerdy about it.

Fresh Coast Chocolate Co. (formerly Just Good Chocolate)

Location: Traverse City, Michigan

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Nichole Warner and Justin Manning

Size: Tiny

Visit: Yes! Check out the production area as well as café and coffee bar.

Products: Small selection of two-ingredient single-origin bars, drinking chocolate, and brownie mix.

Fruition Chocolate

Location: Shokan, New York

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Bryan and Dahlia Graham

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the big store in Shokan and satellite store in Woodstock.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars with creative ingredients like corn, as well as hot chocolate, bonbons, caramels, and other confections. They also make milk chocolate and even white chocolate.

Guittard Chocolate

Location: Burlingame, California

Year Founded: 1868

Founder: Etienne Guittard; run by his great-grandson Gary Guittard

Size: Giant

Visit: No

Products: Single-origin and blended dark and milk chocolate bars as well as dark, milk, and white baking chocolate, drinking chocolate, cocoa powders, and couverture chocolate for professional chefs. Used by many food manufacturers, restaurants, and chocolatiers around the country (and internationally), including See’s Candies.

Harper Macaw

Location: Washington, D.C.

Year Founded: 2015

Founders: Sarah and Colin Hartman

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and store.

Products: Uses beans from Brazil’s Atlantic and Amazon rain forests in blends and inclusion bars with ingredients like Earl Grey tea and peanuts and pretzels.

K’ul Chocolate

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Year Founded: 2015

Founder: Peter Kelsey

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out their factory and shop.

Products: Single-origin bars and bars with superfood inclusions like pumpkin seeds and maca.

LetterPress Chocolate

Location: Los Angeles, California

Year Founded: 2014

Founders: David and Corey Menkes

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Single-origin bars.

Lillie Belle Farms

Location: Central Point, Oregon

Founders: Jeff Shepherd

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the shop.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars as well as tons of confections.

Lonohana Hawaiian Estate Chocolate

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Year Founded: 2009

Founder: Seneca Klassen

Size: Tiny

Visit: Yes! Call ahead for farm tours and factory visits.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars made in Hawaii from tree to bar. Mostly available through a subscription chocolate club, but any leftover bars can be bought online.

Madre Chocolate

Location: O’ahu, Hawaii

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Nat Bletter and David Elliott

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the shops in Honolulu and Kailua.

Products: Vegan single-origin Hawaiian bars as well as bars from other origins and with inclusions.

Manoa Chocolate

Location: Kailua, Hawaii

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Dylan Butterbaugh

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory.

Products: Single-origin Hawaiian bars as well as bars of other origins and with inclusions, plus brewing chocolate, nibs, and more.

Map Chocolate Co.

Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Year Founded: 2014

Founder: Mackenzie Rivers

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Custom couverture and single-origin and inclusion bars as well as hot chocolate, cold-brew chocolate, baking chocolate, and single-origin cocoa powder.

Maverick Chocolate Co.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Year Founded: 2014

Founders: Paul and Marlene Picton

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the store.

Products: Single-origin bars as well as milk and white bars, inclusion bars, drinking chocolate, and cocoa nibs.

Middlebury Chocolates

Location: Middlebury, Vermont

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Stephanie and Andy Jackson

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the café with house-roasted coffee drinks, milk shakes, hot chocolate, and bonbons, as well as special-release bars.

Products: Single-origin bars and a few bars with basic inclusions like salt.

Nathan Miller Chocolate

Location: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Nathan Miller

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory as well as the on-site coffeehouse with chocolate and coffee drinks as well as savory entrées.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars as well as confections.

Nuance Chocolate

Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Year Founded: 2014

Founders: Toby and Alix Gadd

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the café.

Products: Single-origin and some inclusion bars. At the café you’ll also find confections, hot chocolate, and more.

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Year Founded: 2007

Founder: Scott Witherow

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory.

Products: Stone-ground chocolate using brown sugar. Mostly produces inclusion bars and confections like caramels and chocolate charcuterie.

Parliament Chocolate

Location: Redlands, California

Year Founded: 2013

Founders: Ryan and Cassi Berk

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out their store.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin chocolates as well as chocolate syrup and drinking chocolate. Visit the store for all sorts of confections.

Patric Chocolate

Location: Columbia, Missouri

Year Founded: 2006

Founder: Alan McClure

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Single-origin, blended, and inclusion bars like triple ginger and licorice.

Potomac Chocolate

Location: Woodbridge, Virginia

Year Founded: 2010

Founder: Ben Rasmussen

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars as well as a few inclusion bars.


Location: Brooklyn, New York

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Nate Hodge and Ryan Cheney

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and store.

Products: Vegan unroasted (not raw) chocolate. Mostly produces inclusion bars with unusual ingredients like ghost chiles and methods like steaming cocoa over simmering wine.

Ritual Chocolate

Location: Park City, Utah

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Robbie Stout and Anna Davies

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out the café with chocolate, coffee drinks, and pastries.

Products: Single-origin and inclusion bars, plus drinking chocolate, granola, and more.


Location: Three Rivers, Massachusetts

Year Founded: 2007

Founder: Colin Gasko

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars.

Solstice Chocolate

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Year Founded: 2013

Founders: Scott Query and DeAnn Wallin

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! But make sure you call ahead.

Products: Single-origin and blended bars as well as milk chocolate and drinking chocolate.

Starchild Chocolate

Location: Willits, California

Year Founded: 2013

Founders: Ash and Brittany Maki

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Check out their shop for bars, truffles, and special treats.

Products: Single-origin and flavored bars made exclusively with coconut sugar.

Taza Chocolate

Location: Somerville, Massachusetts

Year Founded: 2005

Founders: Alex Whitmore and Kathleen Fulton

Size: Large

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and store.

Products: Organic stone-ground chocolate in single-origin bars as well as inclusion bars and confections like chocolate-
covered nuts and nibs.


Location: Berkeley, California

Year Founded: 2007

Founders: NASA giant Timothy Childs and Karl Bittong; formerly run by Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, the founders of Wired magazine; chocolate is made by Brad Kintzer

Size: Giant

Visit: No

Products: Bars characterized by flavor notes instead of origin or percentage; tons of inclusion bars in flavors like astronaut ice cream.

Tejas Chocolate

Location: Tomball, Texas

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Scott Moore Jr. and Michelle Holland

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! In addition to chocolate bars and bonbons, they make barbecue, so come hungry.

Products: Single-origin choco-late bars and unusual bonbons (think Parmesan cheese).

Terroir Chocolate

Location: Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Year Founded: 2013

Founders: Josh and Kristin Mohagen

Size: Tiny

Visit: No

Products: A few single-origin bars but mostly inclusion bars.


Location: Seattle, Washington

Year Founded: 2006

Founders: Joseph Whinney and Debra Music

Size: Giant

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and store.

Products: Blends and inclusion bars in flavors like coconut curry and cherry almond.

Videri Chocolate Factory

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Year Founded: 2011

Founders: Sam and Starr Ratto and Chris Heavener

Size: Medium

Visit: Yes! Check out the factory and store.

Products: Dark and milk bars as well as confections and baking chocolate.

Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year Founded: 2010

Founders: Charley and Jessica Wheelock

Size: Small

Visit: Yes! Visit the factory.

Products: Two-ingredient single-origin bars as well as a few inclusion bars and drinking chocolate. Used by Stumptown Coffee Roasters and many other restaurants and confectioners.

Excerpted from Bean-to-Bar Chocolate, © by Megan Giller, used with permission from Storey Publishing

(Note: This story contains affiliate links.)

The 6 Best Chocolate Shops in Texas, and My Texas Book Tour Schedule


On Friday I’m headed to my home state of Texas for more than a week of over-the-top chocolatey events to celebrate my book launch, and I can’t wait to see y’all. Here they are! (Scroll down for six of my favorite chocolate shops across the state.)


“Strangely Delicious” Pairings at the Dallas Chocolate Festival

Saturday, September 9, 2017, noon-1 PM

Cheese, chilis, vegetables: who knows?! I’ll walk you through a guided tasting of some of the best bean-to-bar chocolate in the country, paired with unusual and delicious accompaniments. My book will be available for sale at the talk, and afterward I will be signing copies.

Free with admission to the festival; buy tickets here


Chocolate and Cheese Pairings at Scardello Cheese

Monday, September 11, 2017, 6-8 PM

While researching the pairing portion of my book, I found some delicious flavors when you eat chocolate with cheese: banana split with peanuts and hot fudge, pot roast and mashed potatoes, and buttered toast with jam and honey. Scardello is offering a special chocolate-cheese plate featuring four pairings and two wines, and I’ll be hanging out, talking about the pairings and signing books.

$15 for the pairings; $30 for the pairings and book, RSVP here




Healthy Chocolate Tasting at Redbird Pilates and Fitness

Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 7:30-8:45 PM

This is my favorite Pilates studio in the world, and I’m excited to taste vegan dark chocolates from bean-to-bar companies that emphasize health, use pure and sustainable ingredients, and taste great too.

Free, RSVP here


Underground Chocolate Salon at Chocolaterie Tessa

Thursday, September 14, 2017, 6:30-8 PM

We'll be tasting bars from Amano Artisan ChocolateAskinosie Chocolate,Fresco Chocolate, and Srsly chocolate as well as single-origin bonbons made with some of those chocolates by Chocolaterie Tessa. Space is limited to 30 people, so reserve your spot immediately!

Free with a preorder of my book. Here’s how to RSVP:
1. Preorder the book here:
2. Send me an email with a copy of your receipt for the book at


Cheese and Chocolate Pairing Class at Antonelli’s Cheese

Saturday, September 16, 2017, 4-6 PM

Enjoy learning about bean-to-bar chocolate making while we taste our way through five cheeses and five fantastic Askinosie chocolates. Olives, almonds and Easy Tiger bread provided as well. Special guest: Lawren Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate!

$60, including a copy of the book; purchase tickets here


Chocolate, Beer, and Bands Book Release Party

Sunday, September 17, 2017, 1-5 PM

We'll have free from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, Guittard Chocolate Company, and local Austinite Srsly chocolate, as well as $3 beer pairings and Tweed Coffee Roasters coffee pairings. Plus, live music from Dan Goebel and the Boleys!

Free; RSVP here


The 6 Best Chocolate Shops in Texas

Bonbons from Chocolaterie Tessa, in Austin

Bonbons from Chocolaterie Tessa, in Austin

Without further ado, here they are! Keep in mind that these are mainly chocolatiers, with a few chocolate makers thrown in there for good measure.

Tejas Chocolate Craftory

Spoiler alert: This Houston-area barbecue joint and bean-to-bar maker is in my book, on my list of the top 50 makers in the country! (Stay tuned for the full list, coming soon.)

Chocolaterie Tessa

Find single-origin truffles made with American bean-to-bar chocolate as well as specialty bonbons at this delightful shop in Austin.

Kate Weiser Chocolate

Gorgeous truffles and treats (think upscale candy bars) delight the eyes and the mouth at this Dallas chocolatier; visit the shop for homemade ice cream and drinking chocolate.

Cacao and Cardamom

Colorful bonbons and chocolate high heels are the name of the game at this Houston chocolatier.

Crave Artisan Chocolate

Creative flavor combinations and chocolate bark with pretty patterns distinguish Austin-based Crave. Look for a chocolate display at owner Krystal Craig’s new restaurant, Intero, opening soon.

Dude, Sweet Chocolate

Find creative treats like chocolate “salami” and One-Night Stand Potion (agave nectar, tequila, dark chocolate) at this whimsical Dallas chocolatier.

(Note: This story contains affiliate links.)

Notes From the Underground Chocolate Salon


Last week at the Underground Chocolate Salon at the Meadow, our tasting of six bars from Castronovo Chocolate turned into a full-fledged party, with music, laughter, and at least one manager of the Meadow unbuttoning his shirt.

What’s an Underground Chocolate Salon? I’ve always been jealous of Paris in the 1920s, when artistic and literary luminaries gathered at Gertrude Stein’s house to talk and hang out: Picasso, Cézanne, Joyce, Eliot, Cocteau. Only one thing would have made it better: chocolate. That’s why I started what I’m calling the Underground Chocolate Salon, for like-minded (or not so like-minded) people to get together and talk chocolate, as well as enjoy one another’s company.

Speaking of like-minded people, yesterday Cacao Review and I discovered that we both started clubs with similar names. As you know, mine is called the Underground Chocolate Salon. Cacao Review is about to launch a collection of microbatch bars from its favorite makers called the Underground Chocolate Club. Cacao Review has kindly decided to switch its name after its first collection is out (they are all ready to be shipped) and is even including a little teaser about my upcoming book in that first collection. I’m very happy that we managed to work this out in a friendly way and are being supportive of each other’s goals and progression. Yay for craft chocolate!

Now back to the salon.

I profiled Castronovo on my site recently, and I wanted to celebrate that profile with a tasting. This was not a sales pitch but a collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Here are our notes, minus the debauchery:

 Sierra Nevada, Colombia, 72 Percent

Fruity, bright, apricot perhaps, long finish

Amazonas 72 Percent

Still fruity but much more chocolatey, not as bright

Patanemo, Venezuela, 70 Percent

Nutty, malty, chocolatey through and through

Tumaco, Colombia 85 Percent

One of the attendees is so into craft chocolate that she had independently ordered a bunch of Castronovo’s bars and shared this one with us. We found it earthy, maybe a little chalky, surprisingly not bitter for an 85 percent

Sierra Nevada, Colombia, Dark Milk 63 Percent

Caramel, slightly fruity but much more mild, addictive, gone immediately

Dominican Republic, 55 Percent

A true milk chocolate, super sweet

The tasting concluded with a phone call with Denise Castronovo, the owner and chocolate maker behind the brand. Picture us huddled around my phone as she answered our questions and chatted about chocolate. A nice treat!

Then we hung out with patrons of the Meadow for a few hours, gushing over chocolate bars and telling stories of our favorite foods from around the world.

Note: There is an affiliate link in this post, for my book!

Come to My Underground Chocolate Salon on Aug. 24

Happy Friday, chocolate lovers! I’m super excited to announce that I’m bringing back the Underground Chocolate Salon!

I’ve always been jealous of Paris in the 1920s, when artistic and literary luminaries gathered at Gertrude Stein’s house to talk and hang out: Picasso, Cézanne, Joyce, Eliot, Cocteau. Only one thing would have made it better: chocolate. That’s why I started what I’m calling the Underground Chocolate Salon, for like-minded (or not so like-minded) people to get together and talk chocolate, as well as enjoy one another’s company.

Join me in New York City at the Meadow on August 24 from 6 to 7:30 PM for a special Underground Chocolate Salon completely dedicated to Castronovo Chocolate. We’ll taste most of Denise Castronovo’s line, including her many award-winning dark milk chocolates, and learn more about what makes her chocolate so special. We’ll also be treated to the musical stylings of the Meadow’s Nick Cardoni, who will be playing bluesy live piano for us.

To come to the salon, preorder my book here and email me your RSVP and the receipt. Admission is limited to 20 people. Hope to see you there!

Giveaway: I’m Throwing a Chocolate Tasting for You and Your Friends!

Hey, New York City chocaholics! In honor of my book, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution, coming out in September, I want to throw a chocolate tasting for you and four of your closest friends. The only cost? Five preorders of my book, one for each of your chocolate-loving friends, and one for you!

What’s a chocolate tasting? Think of the wine tastings or cheese tastings you’ve been to, and then replace the main ingredient with a better one: chocolate. I’ll bring five delicious craft chocolates, palate cleansers like crackers and green apples, and whole cocoa beans to your house (or a fun café or store, your choice), and we’ll spend about an hour and a half tasting and chatting about chocolate. You’ll learn how bean-to-bar chocolate is made, discover the fascinating and sometimes hilarious stories of these artisanal companies, and compare and contrast chocolates the way you would fine wines. Plus, you get to take home the leftovers!

How to enter:

1. Preorder 5 copies of the book. (Or more, if you'd like!)

2. Send a copy of your receipt and some dates that work for your tasting to

3. We’ll get it on the calendar!

The giveaway starts today (Wednesday, 7/26) and ends in two weeks (Wednesday, 8/9), so let’s get started!

Not in New York? Let’s Skype! The same deal applies if you’re in another city. The only difference is that you’ll see my pretty little face on the computer screen rather than in real life.

Check Out the Advance Copy of My Book!

It arrived on my doorstep over the weekend, and I'm super excited to share this with y'all in a few short months! I'll be posting sneak peeks of it each week, like the following photo: mouthwatering cocoa nib ice cream, a recipe that Alice Medrich kindly shared with me from her book.

Photo by Jody Horton

Photo by Jody Horton

Note: There's an affiliate link to my book in this post!


A Modern-Day Willie Wonka: Chocolate River Craft Chocolate

Photo by William Mullan

When Billie Bonkers tweets at 2 AM, we listen. That’s because the eccentric Portland resident makes the most exquisite chocolate in the world, using a process he invented in 2015 called bean to bar. The recluse hasn't been seen by anyone since that year, and amid his stream-of-consciousness tweets, once per month you’ll find him revealing an order form for new bars. But act quick: He sells out immediately, and then you’re out of luck until 30 days later, too long to live without chocolate.

But let’s step back a second. Bean to bar? In 2015, after making a fortune in the tech world, Bonkers decided that he wanted to revolutionize chocolate by making it from scratch. (It took Bonkers a few paces to find chocolate: He first experimented with pickles, kombucha, and gluten-free crackers before landing on the dark stuff.)

He traveled to Venezuela, where he found an expert farmer who mysteriously only goes by the initials “O.L.” With O.L., he imported dozens of cacao trees to a steam room he built in his enormous factory on the outskirts of the city. There, he apparently grows cacao onsite and ferments and dries the beans himself (well, with the help of O.L and his wife). He’s vehement that this part of the process is better than his “imposters’ attempts” at direct trade: He calls it no trade.

Then, using prized machinery that he invented himself or bought in Europe, he roasts the beans (in a modified clothes dryer), grinds (in an enormous machine from 1940s Germany), and smoothens the beans himself, using the aid of his most prized invention: a chocolate waterfall and river, which he uses instead of a conche. It’s rumored that the bearded twentysomething apparently takes boat rides down the river in his spare time. That’s how Bonkers ingeniously arrived at the name for his artisan company: Chocolate River Craft Chocolate.

Photo courtesy Flickr user CEBImagery

Then, after painstakingly making the paper for his packaging from scratch and letterpressing his own design onto that paper, he and O.L. hand-wrap each and every bar, then send it by carrier pigeon to its destination.

Of course, all of this is, as we said, rumor. Bonkers hasn’t been seen since he started the factory, in 2015, and only communicates through elusive Twitter rants—though his wife, who runs the books, marketing, and social media, responds to emails. We learned most of what you’re reading here after talking with a spy from Big Chocolate who preferred to remain anonymous; One big company, you see, is interested in acquiring the company and taking it national.

O.L. before he came to Portland (left); the only known image of Billy Bonkers (center); a carrier pigeon from Bonkers' factory (he only shoots on black and white film, right); images courtesy Flickr users Nathan RupertCass Anaya, and jwyg, respectively

Most of what we definitively know about Bonkers is the chocolate itself, which is all single origin and made with only two ingredients: cacao and sugar. Well, except for two bars that were recently released: coconut milk and infused bourbon.

But yesterday Bonkers himself reached out to me via Twitter private message and said that he will be opening the factory doors, to five lucky souls who find a golden ticket in one of his bars. Since he only produces about 500 bars per year, this gives us all pretty good odds, if we start buying today! Good luck to all: The factory tour will take place on April Fool’s Day.

Read More Stories!

Why Ritual Chocolate Uses Vintage Machinery

Patric Chocolate: The Chemistry of Flavor

Some Really Badass Female Chocolate Makers

Why Ritual Chocolate Uses Vintage Machinery

At the beginning of March I profiled one of my favorite American chocolate makers, Ritual Chocolate. I’d wanted to include some of the fascinating story that co-founder Robbie Stout told me about their conche, but, well, I wanted it in his dynamic words. So for the first time, I’m publishing a guest post on Chocolate Noise. Robbie, take it away!

In 2014 we bought a rusty, dismantled, four-pot longitudinal conche from Steve DeVries [one of the first American bean-to-bar makers, who now acts as an adviser and legend in the industry]. According to Steve, the conche was used by Swiss chocolate company Suchard for around 80 years and then had been hanging out in a barn in Hamburg, Germany, for the past 20 to 30 years. Even when we got it, it was still full of Swiss hay.

When we bought the conche, there was no guarantee that we’d ever be able to get it running, that all the pieces were still there, or that it would even produce good chocolate. So the endeavor to refurbish this conche was a leap of faith—one that was supported by all the old books we read about processing chocolate using turn-of-the-century machines.

For context, here’s a little history. Prior to 1879, there probably wasn’t any great chocolate for eating. Before then, it all would have been a little crude for eating chocolate and was better suited for making hot chocolate drinks. Then, in 1879, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, the founder of Lindt Chocolate, discovered the process of conching after buying an Italian-made machine that looked much like our longitudinal conche. Lindt found that processing chocolate for multiple days in this mixer achieved better texture and better flavor. From then on, Lindt conched all of its chocolate for eating. From about 1879 until about 1900, no one knew how Lindt made its chocolate so smooth, and this is part of where the reputation for smooth, Swiss quality chocolate was born.

As for our conche, we have a theory that ties into the Lindt conche origin story. Since the early 1800s, there has been a machinery company called Ammann in Langenthal, Switzerland. Originally it was called U. Ammann, and it mostly made farm equipment. Our theory is that when Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann discovered the conching process, he went to his relative Ulrich Ammann and asked him to secretly produce conches for Lindt. There is no evidence of this, but the time period and the last names align. Also, when Lindt’s secret of conching made it to the light of day, around 1900, U. Ammann was one of the first manufacturers to make conches available to other chocolate makers at the time. Our conche still has the “U. Ammann, Langenthal” insignia.

We had to make several adjustments and changes to get the rusty, old machine to work again. Using old photographs and drawings as our references, we made a stainless steel frame to support all four pots of the conche (back in the day they used brick). We also enlisted the help of Dairy Engineering, a company in Colorado that specializes in “sanitary liquid engineering,” meaning they build a lot of equipment for the dairy and beer brewing industries. The German motor and gear box were built to be operated at a different voltage and electrical frequency, which Dairy Engineering solved by using a variable frequency drive (VFD). Controlling the heat on these machines was also tricky: The engineers used glue-on heaters to heat the outside of each pot and installed a temperature control panel for each individual pot (which is handy for processing different batches of chocolate at a specific temperature).

Initially, they said the refurbishment would take about three months. Instead, it took a full year. This forced us to get creative with our process, but it all worked out okay. Also, when we relocated from Denver to Park City, Utah, we had to move this 15,000-pound, 15-foot-by-8-foot machine with us (an eight-hour drive). We had to hire a trucker to dedicate his entire load to this one delivery (that was expensive). And then to get it off the truck we had to hire a crane, a forklift, and a team to help navigate the conche into our factory.

Once it was in place, electrical installation was easy. The big task was to clean out each pot before use. This took a solid three weeks of elbow grease and a full batch of throwaway chocolate. Last, we had a lot of trouble with the heaters. After burning them all out, we ended up replacing and reinstalling all of them.

Finally, in March 2016, we ran our first batch in the refurbished Swiss conche. That was by far our most stressful batch. There had been so much thought and preparation leading up to this moment, and there was no guarantee things would work out. Per tradition, the first batch would run for three full days. As we had never left the machine alone to do its business, we had to babysit it for the first three nights. This meant setting an alarm for every two hours during the night, walking to the factory (we live close by), and checking temperatures and listening for mechanical problems. Things were mostly fine, except the belt was too loose, so we had to apply a belt dressing during every checkup to silence its screeching.

After three days, it came time to temper and mold our first batch of chocolate from the conche. What we tasted was definitely the best chocolate we’d ever made. The texture was smoother. The flavor was more delicate, yet it lingered longer than it had in the past. And the overall texture of the chocolate felt finer and more consistent. Needless to say, we were greatly relieved. After all the time, effort, and money that went into getting the conche running, imagine how disappointing it would have been if the results had been mediocre!

Since then, we’ve run about twenty 1,000-pound batches. We’ve had to make a few small repairs, but so far it’s running well. If anything, the quality has improved as we’ve been able to perfect the speed and temperature of the conching. Occasionally it can be a little messy, but that’s part of being old fashioned. With the current condition of the granite in each pot, we see no reason why this conche won’t be able to run for another 100 years (or more). And this is why we love old equipment—because it’s built to last.