Ten years ago you could count the number of American bean-to-bar chocolate makers on one hand. Today, Whole Foods sells 25 varieties. And there are infinite personal preferences when it comes to the eating of high-quality chocolate. “What I like isn’t necessarily what you'll like,” explains Eagranie Yuh, a Vancouver-based chocolate expert and author of The Chocolate Tasting Kit.
But, someone like Yuh can point you in the right direction. The best bars, she says, are not unlike the qualities you'd attribute to a fine wine: balanced, fruity, containing a touch of acidity, maybe a bit earthy, smooth and creamy on the tongue, with a long finish, mild tannins, and a nice snap.
And, it's not all certified organic — Yuh says her favorites aren't. “But, that doesn’t mean the cacao they’re working with isn’t organic,” she says. Organic certification is still costly, and not everyone in the supply chain sees more money for it.
That’s just a small piece of the conscious-chocolate-shopping pie. Choosing ethically produced, delicious chocolate has become complicated: There are ingredients to avoid and percentages, certifications, and origins to consider. And, none of these indicate quality. So, with Yuh's help, and a few visits to high-end chocolatiers, we took one for the team and did some chocolate-tasting research for you. Click through for our favorite bars and a cheat sheet for your next shopping trip.