[W]hether you’re talking sourcing, processing, packaging, or tasting, the parallels between coffee and chocolate are plentiful. Offering bean-to-bar chocolate to your customers is a meaningful way to engage in discussions about flavors and origin, while providing a tasty complement to your drink menu. With beautiful packaging, thoughtful sourcing, and careful craftsmanship, these chocolates help curate an experience for customers that’s memorable and sweet.
Based in the Mission District of San Francisco, Dandelion tempers small batches of beans, then carefully molds and packages each bar by hand. Sourcing high- quality beans and crafting tiny batches brings out the individual flavors and nuances of each bean. Current offerings come from Zorzal, Dominican Republic; Mantuano, Venezuela; Ambanja, Madagascar; and Butuo, Liberia.
2) PITCH DARK
The 80 percent Rugoso is a single-varietal Nicaragua with strong cocoa and tannic flavors at the start, followed by notes of plum and strawberry blended in a sweet, chocolaty aftertaste. Crafted in Portland, Oregon, Pitch Dark combines proven Old World methods with new and innovative technology to highlight the character and personality of their handpicked single-origin cocoa beans from Nicaragua, Madagascar, Ecuador, and Fiji.
Raaka head chocolate maker Nate Hodge is also a home cook who likes to experiment with flavor and push the boundaries of chocolate. To make their best-selling Bourbon Cask Aged bar, Raaka ages their Belize cacao in bourbon casks from Berkshire Mountain Distillers for four weeks. After four weeks, the nibs are ground, mixed with a house blend of cane and maple sugar, and made into a deliciously deep dark chocolate with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
At a small factory in Park City, Utah, Ritual Chocolate handcrafts small batches, bringing together early European traditions with a modern American style. Ritual seeks to revive the focus on quality and support the people who grow their raw ingredients. With only cacao and cane sugar, each bar is an authentic expression of the flavors unique to its origin. Origins include Ecuador, Belize, Madagascar, and Peru.
—Ellie Bradley is Fresh Cup‘s associate editor.