A few weeks ago I asked y’all a hard question: If you had to pick 5 makers (or bars) to represent American craft chocolate, who would they be? Seems a bit random, I know, but I was headed to Storey Publishing’s office to do a tasting for the team working on my book.
I’m excited to tell you how excited they were to taste all of this delicious craft chocolate. I didn’t actually bring anything, because Storey has something like 100 bars that they’re photographing for the book, a wide array of jewels that made my mouth water just thinking about them. We filled the room and then some with people eager to taste the best craft chocolate in America, and they loved it. LOVED IT! I’m not going to reveal exactly which bars we tasted (you’ll have to wait for the book for that one), but we ended the day buzzing with the energy of the craft chocolate movement.
But back to the question at hand. So many of you guys wrote me such great answers. Here they are, in no particular order. (P.S. In this case, America included Canada too!)
“My favorite bean-to-bar maker of 2016: Madre, Patric, Rogue, Dandelion, Potomac”
“So hard to pick 5. I have 17. Soma, Dick Taylor, Fruition, Amano, Map Chocolate”
— Pashmina Lalchandani, Choco Rush
“Please see my personal top five selection below. They are not listed in any particular order; I couldn't possible rank them as my favourites out of these change regularly! Rogue Jamaica 75%, Dick Taylor Guatemala 70%, Fruition Hudson Valley Bourbon Dark Milk 61%, Dandelion Mantuano Venezuela 70%, Ritual Belize 75%. If you are counting Canada in American Craft Chocolate the Palette De Bine Wild Bolivie 70% Bine À L'Érable would probably just edge out the Dandelion bar.”
— Rob Sledmere, Pump Street Bakery
“I’m happy to share the work of these makers who I see as some of the newest and most exciting innovators in the American craft chocolate revolution: Map, Acalli, Firefly, Letterpress, Somerville Chocolate CSA, and of course I must mention a 6th: Enna Chocolate.”
—Enna Grazier, Enna Chocolate
“Fresco, letterpress, French broad are three that I particularly enjoy.”
“Askinosie: one of the first. True career changer. Inspirational. Committed to sustainability, the environment, and the farmers.
“Patric: true small batch. Became know for fantastic tasting bars enhanced by Alan’s commitment to the science of chocolate.
“Raaka: young guys in Brooklyn with endless enthusiasm for educating ones palate to raw chocolate with great taste.
“Grenada: not in North America, but the extremely unique founder was American. Tragically passed too young, created an industry that did not exist to help those who needed help. Delicious bars at a good price point.
“Dick Taylor: one of the first small batch bean to bar chocolate I tried when I began my passion for educating my chocolate palate a number of years ago, so it always comes to mind when I think of American bean to bar. Beautiful packaging too.
“Honorable mention to Mast simply because they are probably the most well-known bean to bar brand for those who are not very familiar with smaller brands. Not my favorite by any means…too dry…but I enjoyed the educational tour when they offered it years ago and I do like the goat bar very much.”
“Somerville chocolates. And Taza. #newenglandrepresent”
“Dick Taylor. Fruition. Ritual. French Broad. Dandelion.”
“Guittard, Dandelion, Tcho, Amano, Dick Taylor”
—Janice Marie Foote
“Here are six that truly represent American Craft Chocolate: Chocolate Alchemist, Raaka, Map, Cacao Prieto Potomac, Violet Sky”
—Robert, Campbell, Chocolate Alchemist
“soma (CA), fruition, akesson, patric”
“Rogue, Patric, can Soma count as North America?, Dick Taylor, Amano?”
“Here are a few that show a nice cross section: Raaka, Amano, Cacao Prieto, Pitch Dark, Undone, Potomac.”
—Chocolate Bar Suppliers
“Patric, Askinosie, French Broad, Cacao Atlanta, Map. These were only American. Canada, Europe, South America and Asia get 5 each too. I chose some pioneers because they paved the way and I am always happy for their success! I have a special mention to Kakawa Chocolate House for their drinking chocolate.”
—Sophia Rea, Projet Chocolat
“Askinosie, French Broad, Patric, Maverick, Dick Taylor”
—Antonella Tromba, Foodensity
“1. Dick Taylor Vietnam Tien Giang Limited Release Bar. 2. Dick Taylor Solomon Islands Exclusive Release Bar 3. Dandelion Chocolate Cahabon, Guatemala Bar 4. Olive & Sinclair Co's Sea Salt Dominican Republic Bar 5. Endorphin Foods' Passion Bar”
—Bevin B. Cooper Farkas, BumbleBDesign
“Aside from my own bars (Endorfin Foods), I'd say: French Broad’s Cacao Verapaz bar, Fruition’s bourbon dark milk, Dick Taylor’s Alto Beni bar, Raaka’s Bananas Foster bar, Askinosie’s dark goat milk w/ licorice, and Firefly’s Bay Nut bar. All exceptional bars, made with skills on the edge of our craft.”
—Brian Wallace, Endorfin Foods
“My 5 American Chocolate Bars are Askinosie Tanzania & Zingermans collaboration bar; I also love Dick Taylor’s limited edition Bolivian bar, Marou (they are American, right) Treasure Island, Lastly I like my dark krispie bar from my local place Graham’s Chocolate [not sure how bean-to-bar it; but it's good!]...”
“my 5: Amano Dos Rios, Solstice Bolivia, Cocanu Brass Bar, Durci Defiant, Patric PBJ OMG”