1th of September 2020
Newsflash! When it comes to food, the world’s best palette pleaser is a very personal preference. And finding the world’s best chocolate bar is no different. So rather than expecting you to taste hundreds, if not thousands, of different chocolate bars, we have compiled the ultimate guide to finding the world’s best chocolate.
Forrest Gump once said, “life's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Well, the goal of this guide is to ensure your box of chocolates is always filled with only the most delicious and the most tempting of them all. So let’s get started.
1. Less Is More When It Comes to Ingredients
At To’ak Chocolate, we like to keep in mind that nature has been perfecting the cacao bean for more than 5,000 years. Our job is just to add the finishing touches.
My first tip when looking at chocolate is to turn the bar around and scan the ingredients list. The best quality chocolate will only have two or three ingredients at most. There is a simple reason for this.
The ICCO (International Cocoa Organization) estimates that only 6% of the world’s cacao is considered fine flavor (most of which is sourced from Ecuador). The remaining 95% is referred to as bulk or industrial cacao. If you are a chocolate maker using fine flavor beans, you've paid a premium price for those beans. You want the beans themselves to be the hero of the product. Therefore, you are likely to have very few additional ingredients.
On the contrary, if you're using bulk cacao beans (like major candy companies) then those beans most likely haven't been carefully handled and processed for optimal flavor development. To hide the imperfections, chocolate makers will use tricks like adding a long list of ingredients, over-roasting the beans, and adding large amounts of sugar.
You will find that at To'ak Chocolate almost all of our bars are two-ingredient chocolate, such as our Harvest and Aged Bars. You will also find we have single-ingredient chocolate offerings such as our El Nino 2016 Harvest 100% Cacao Bar or our T.cacao Everyday 100% Organic Cacao Powder.
2. Treat Dark Chocolate Like Wine
Did you know that on average cacao beans have more than 600 aromatic compounds? That’s two to three times more flavor molecules than wine grapes.
We’re already accustomed to considering wine a premium product. And a lot of that comes down to our appreciation for the complexity of flavor and diversity of origins in the world of wine. The good news is that the world of fine chocolate can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with that of fine wine.
Like fine wines, the cacao tree and the beans it produces are highly terroir-driven. This means the flavor and aroma of the beans (and ultimately the chocolate) are heavily influenced by environmental factors, including seasonal weather patterns, rainfall, sunlight, soil, and the particular farm on which the trees are grown.
But how does all this relate to finding the best chocolate in the world?
Well, with such an exciting range of cacao varieties and growing regions, the best chocolate makers in the world are proud of where they source their cocoa from. Bars that disclose the origin of their beans on the label are likely to be excellent quality compared to other bars that don't.
At To’ak we are proud to harvest our beans alongside 13 smallholder farmers who have been farming cacao in the valley of Piedra de Plata for 3-4 generations. In our humble opinion, our source of cacao is like the Côte de Nuits of Burgundy wines. We include information about the appellation, variety, harvest year and period, fermentation time, roast level, and other pertinent information.
3. Look Beyond the Label to Ensure Your Chocolate Maker Is Ethical
These days we are more skeptical than ever about where our food comes from and how it is processed. Certifications (such as FairTrade and Organic) are a good first step, but in our opinion, they don’t go nearly far enough to equate to ethical chocolate.
Many chocolate brands have been linked to deforestation and child labor scandals. That certainly isn't something we want to support when looking for quality chocolate.
Currently, many bean-to-bar makers are avoiding certification programs altogether. Instead, they're opting for direct trade models and dealing directly with the farmers. This cuts out the middlemen and ensures a better price for farmers. And since the beans pass through fewer hands before they're turned into chocolate, there is greater quality control as well.
Many brands have received recognition for their high ethical standards in terms of sourcing and production. These include makers such as Dandelion Chocolate, who practice direct trade and publish detailed sourcing reports, Akesson’s who include a detailed overview of their values and sustainability commitments on their website, and Pacari in Ecuador, who started the made at origin bean-to-bar chocolate movement—a model that keeps more of the money in developing countries and in the pockets of farmers.
At To’ak Chocolate we weren't satisfied with the state of the certification industry. So, we teamed up with like-minded premium chocolate and coffee makers, Cafe Velez and Republica del Cacao. Together, we developed the world’s first supply chain traceability and digital storytelling platform.
Orijin was made specifically for the cocoa value chain. Take a look at it and at how the company is leading the way with technology for fairer and more sustainable production models.
We're also committed to paying the best prices in all of Ecuador for our cacao. We pay the farmers of Piedra de Plata between 4x - 8x the local farmgate price.
And in partnership with local NGO Third Millennium Alliance, we are committed to preserving the genetic and flavor diversity of heirloom cacao with our Ancient Nacional Cacao Conservation project.
4. Chocolate That Is Made With Love Always Tastes Better
We believe that the best chocolate in the world must be made with love, not by a big anonymous industrial giant. We are proud to be members of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and part of the bean-to-bar revolution.
Fine chocolate brands make the best chocolate because they are using the highest quality ingredients, treating chocolate as fine food, and respecting the individuals in the value chain. After all, if your chocolate was made with love then you can bet it is going to taste better!
5. Variety Is the Spice of Life
Chances are, you don’t have just one fancy outfit or one all-time favorite dish, so you shouldn’t have just one favorite chocolate. There is chocolate for almost any occasion. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions from To’ak and beyond.
Best chocolate for pairing with wine—we created the equivalent of a vertical flight of wine with chocolate from three consecutive harvest years. It comes beautifully packaged in 18 individually wrapped mini bars, and accompanied by a practical tasting guide.
Best chocolate to snack on during a movie—we are big fans of the crazy and creative people behind Zotter Chocolate. They’re sure to have the perfect flavor combination for your movie night.
Best chocolate for a sweet treat—we all look for something sweet from time to time. When that time comes, we suggest checking out the Slave Free Chocolate guide or Green America’s Chocolate Scorecard. These lists review and rate the most famous candy bars for their ethical practices.
Best chocolate for an energy boost—we developed our T.cacao range of products to be the purest and healthiest drinking cacao and hot chocolate products available. With high levels of theobromine and a touch of natural caffeine, these healthy cacao powders will power you through your day.
- Best Keto dark chocolate—we receive rave reviews for our El Nino 2016 Harvest 100% Cacao Bar. It is a single-ingredient bar which makes it ideal for Keto or Paleo diets. You will be pleasantly surprised that it has very low bitterness and great natural sweetness.
Best chocolate experience—To’ak are pioneers of the art of aging chocolate. With our 18 Mini Bar Selection (Harvest & Aged) you can create your own chocolate tasting event at home. Each box contains mini bars from three consecutive harvest years as well as mini bars from three different aged editions. It truly is a complete chocolate experience.
Best chocolate as a luxury gift—our Origin bars are the ultimate chocolate lover’s gift. Each bar of hand wrapped chocolate comes accompanied by a 60-page color book explaining the history and making of chocolate, a proprietary tasting utensil, and a handcrafted wooden presentation box. It’s the perfect gift for that person who has everything.
Where to Buy the Best Chocolate in the World?
It doesn't matter whether you are looking for the best chocolate in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even in London. With the following options, you will be able to find the best chocolate online, period.
- Caputo’s Market & Deli in Salt Lake City has got you covered with a wide selection of the world’s best chocolate with fast delivery across the USA and Canada
- Chocolate Covered – San Francisco has one of the biggest and best ranges of specialty chocolate in the USA. Jack has been in the business of curating the world’s best chocolate for more than 25 years!
- Cocoa Runners is your best choice for bean-to-bar chocolate online in London and the UK.
- Are you based in Europe or Amsterdam? Then look no further than High Five Chocolate, which has arguably the best selection of craft chocolate in Europe. They also supply a large number of local stores in cities such as Berlin, Madrid, Turin, Paris, and beyond.
You can find the full range of To’ak Chocolate on our Collection page. We have complimentary express shipping options to most countries and major cities, including the USA, Canada, the UK and continental Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries.
Conclusion — Different Strokes for Different Folks
We truly believe that finding the best chocolate in the world is a personal endeavor—and a fun one at that.
Keep in mind the importance of simple ingredients (maximum two to three). Look for chocolate makers who treat their craft like making wine—an easy indicator being whether the maker highlights cacao variety and origin of the beans on the front label.
Don’t be satisfied with claims or certifications on a label. Get behind the label to determine if the chocolate brand is ethical. Also, look for chocolate brands that make their chocolate with love. Most importantly though, keep trying new bars!
So, what’s stopping you from trying that new bar that’s caught your attention?