What is craft chocolate? How it’s made and benefits

by | Jan 8, 2024 | Chocolate Information

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When you think about “craft chocolate,” do you think of a high-quality chocolate bar wrapped in super fancy packaging? Or maybe pricier chocolate that melts in your mouth, with a rich and smooth texture, full of delicate and amazing flavors usually found in exclusive stores? Craft chocolate can be described as all of these things but there is so much more, keep reading and discover the true essence of craft chocolate.

What is craft chocolate?

Craft chocolate refers to chocolate made in small batches by skilled chocolate makers who are very engaged in each stage of the process, starting from collaborating with farmers to select the finest cacao beans to crafting the final chocolate bar. In contrast to mass-produced chocolate, craft chocolate prioritizes quality, flavor diversity, and a hands-on production approach.

Is craft chocolate more expensive? 

Yes, craft chocolate usually comes with a higher price tag compared to mass-produced chocolate. Craft chocolate makers prioritize quality, using top ingredients and a hands-on approach, which can increase production costs. 

Craft chocolate, produced in small batches, tends to have higher costs compared to larger-scale operations, leading to elevated prices. However, many consumers today are willing to invest in these premium chocolates due to their distinct flavors, artisanal craftsmanship, and commitment to ethical sourcing. The increased cost is influenced by the focus on quality ingredients, especially high-quality, often single-origin cacao beans, contributing to a more nuanced and distinctive flavor profile.

What are the benefits of craft vs industrial chocolate?

Craft chocolate comes with clear benefits. Craft chocolate makers focus on using high-quality, often single-origin cacao beans, leading to a more nuanced and distinctive flavor. Single-origin beans mean there’s no need for excessive roasting or added vanilla essence, ensuring that each craft chocolate bar is a pure expression of its origin. Another significant advantage is the minimal use of sugar and additional ingredients, making it a healthier and less sweet option. When you enjoy a craft chocolate bar, you’re savoring the essence of a single origin without unnecessary additives.

Also, many craft chocolate makers emphasize ethical and sustainable sourcing of cacao beans, supporting local farmers and fair trade practices. 

On the other hand, what industrial chocolate does is buy different types of beans from all over the world. Of course, it is cheaper, and they often over-roast the beans or add vanilla extract or other sweeteners to hide defects or blend and unify the cocoa bean flavors. The main purpose for industrial chocolate makers is to standardize, so they need those additives to control the final taste and make it consistent.

How is craft chocolate made? Differences in the making process of industrial vs craft chocolate 

Craft chocolate stands apart from industrial chocolate thanks to its hands-on, artisanal approach. Craft makers follow a comprehensive bean-to-bar philosophy, involving themselves in every step, from carefully selecting premium cacao beans to meticulously crafting the final chocolate. This hands-on approach allows for greater control and attention to detail, with craft makers focusing on smaller batches that highlight flavor complexity and offer a more personalized touch. 

A crucial aspect is a commitment to prioritizing high-quality ingredients, often choosing single-origin cacao beans. Craft chocolate makers may experiment with various bean varieties and fermentation techniques to enhance flavor profiles. Additionally, they actively participate in ethical and sustainable cacao sourcing, establishing direct relationships with farmers to support fair trade and local communities.

What is the best way to find craft chocolate makers? 

You can find through online platforms dedicated to artisanal or craft products. Websites like Bean to Bar World, Cocoa Runners, Chocolate Noise, and Chocolate Codex provide information about various craft chocolate makers.

Cocoa Runners has an impressive interactive  Craft Chocolate Map, where you can find a directory of craft chocolate makers around the world, it provides information about craft chocolate brands. 

Also, you can find craft chocolate makers on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Many artisans actively showcase their products, share updates, and engage with their audience through these platforms.

Join chocolate events, festivals, or tastings. These occasions frequently highlight craft chocolate makers presenting their products. It’s a great chance to explore new brands and engage with the creators.

5 Best Craft Chocolate Makers

Dandelion Chocolate: located in San Francisco, is committed to producing small-batch chocolate bars with a focus on transparency and high-quality ingredients. You can experience their offerings through a guided tour, enjoy a sit-down snack with tea, or participate in a guided tasting at the 16th Street Factory. Additionally, you can indulge in a brewed cacao nib-coffee mashup at their Valencia Street cafe

Kahkow: With a family legacy dating back to 1905 in the cacao business, the Rizek family is renowned for their expertise in growing, processing, and exporting cacao. Situated in Brooklyn, New York, Kahkow is your go-to destination for both chocolate makers and enthusiasts. Their diverse product range includes bars, hot chocolate mix, inclusion barks, candied cocoa nibs, cocoa beans, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter. Additionally, they offer enlightening factory tours allowing you to dive into their single-origin creations and quality ingredients sourced directly from the Dominican Republican.

Manoa Chocolate: located in Hawaii, is a craft chocolate maker that takes pride in producing top-notch chocolates. They are dedicated to sourcing premium cacao beans directly from farmers worldwide, ensuring a sustainable and ethical supply chain. Their commitment to quality shines through in a range of chocolate products, from bars and truffles to unique flavor combinations.

Guittard Chocolate:  Founded in 1868, is renowned for its commitment to quality and expertise in the art of chocolate crafting. With a meticulous selection of premium cacao beans from around the world, Guittard employs traditional chocolate-making techniques to create a diverse array of products. From single-origin and blended dark and milk chocolate bars to dark, milk, and white baking chocolate, along with offerings like drinking chocolate, cocoa powders, and couverture chocolate tailored for professional chefs, Guittard Chocolate stands as a symbol of excellence in the world of chocolate.

Goodnow Farms Chocolate: At their 225-year-old farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts, they craft their chocolate from scratch. Starting with cacao beans and sugar, they meticulously handle every stage of the chocolate-making process in-house. This includes the thoughtful hand-wrapping of each bar. What sets them apart is their use of freshly pressed, single-origin cocoa butter in their chocolate, resulting in exceptionally smooth and intensely flavorful creations. We invite you to explore their website to learn more about the many steps involved in truly realizing the full flavor potential of single-origin chocolate cacao, from personal sourcing to painstakingly roasting, pressing cocoa butter, conching and more. 

For more great articles and recipes, check out the rest of our CocoTerra blog

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us through our social media channels.  We are @cocoterra_co on Instagram and Pinterest and @cocoterraco on X (aka Twitter) and Facebook.

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