The differences of mass and craft chocolate are worlds apart. Craft entrepreneurs take care of the cocoa farmers, and are mindful of where they source their cocoa beans and the entire roasting process. The result of such meticulous labour is delightful artisanal chocolate bars oozing with high quality ingredients – and possibly the healthiest chocolate you can bite into. Rather than gorge on low cocoa and highly sugared bars, you are more likely to savour the flavour.
With its mineral-rich, antioxidant and blood-flow promoting properties and bad cholesterol fighting components, dark chocolate is considered a healthy inclusion as part of a balanced diet. What’s more, studies have associated dark chocolate with improved cognitive performance in elderly people.
Most chocolate brands that claim to be Swiss, Belgium, or British, still source their raw ingredients from developing countries, which means the country that the cocoa originates from earns as little as 3% to 10% from the finished product, and if not Fairtrade certified or ethically sourced, is usually bought at exploitative prices. Entrepreneurs who concern themselves with the sustainability of an entire industry and the health of the individuals who consume their chocolate over pure profit deserve to be celebrated.
Sublime highly recommends these eight pioneering chocolate brands that are making history in changing the way we perceive and consume chocolate.
PACARI Chocolate (Ecuador)
Pacari Chocolate has firmly embedded Ecuador on the craft chocolate scene with its delightful 100 % natural and organic products. Pacari, or ‘nature’ in the local Quechuan language, reflects the brand’s deep-rooted connection to the land that inspires its high quality bars.
Pacari chocolate was founded by Santiago Peralta and Carla Barbotó, who desired to revolutionize the local chocolate industry by placing producers at the heart of the process, and helped set up local cooperatives.
Pacari Chocolate embraces a local ‘tree to bar’ concept, which ensures the entire process is managed within Ecuador, from the technical team to the expert chocolatiers and marketeers, so that the wealth remains within the raw product’s country of origin. Delight in the knowledge that Pacari Chocolate is free from soy, gluten, dairy, artificial flavours and GMO ingredients!
The range is diverse in its mouth-watering moments, from its classic single origin dark chocolate and raw range, to bars infused with the traditional South American chilli combination.
If you’re looking for something a little different, then try the bars packed with Andean fruits and herbs. Have you tried a blueberry chocolate bar? What about lemongrass chocolate? If you haven’t already, Sublime suggests you do! PacariChocolates t: @PacariUK #SublimeCocoa
CULTURA Craft Chocolate (USA)
It may seem an unlikely place to set up a chocolate company, but the upcoming global startup capital of Denver is the location of Cultura Craft Chocolate. This American company is inspired by its neighbouring country, with an authentic Mexican twist. Expect natural and unique aromas as it melts in your mouth.
Cultura Craft Chocolate focuses on bean to bar, and sources ethically from organic cocoa farms prior to the roasting process, which includes a rigorous hand sorting effort.
Began more as a passion project between two existing chocolatiers Damaris Graves (of Dead Dog Chocolate) and Matt Armstrong (of Mutari Chocolate), the collaboration reflects their shared cultures and experiences in the cocoa world.
Flavours are intensified by the fact that the company embraces the entire cocoa bean, making teas out of the roasted shells, and Mexican-style drinking chocolates and truffles out of the nibs and inside of the beans. During the summer months you can even purchase mole sauce! CulturaChocolate t: @DeadDogChoco #SublimeCocoa
Original Beans (Amsterdam)
Did you ever want your chocolate bar to save the trees? One Dutch company intends to help you! The brainchild of conservationist and chocolatier Philipp Kauffman, Original Beans is a brand that is focused on the rainforests. The team travelled the world over to remote biodiverse forests in pursuit of rare cocoa beans, resulting in delicious chocolate bars.
You can try its unique selection of single origin dark chocolate, and an innovative milk chocolate flavoured with fleur de sel.
In addition to this detailed meticulous sourcing effort, Original Beans has developed a unique program called One Bar: One Tree. By planting a seedling in these delightful forests, your chocolate bar protects the habitat and the livelihoods of the cocoa farmers and future generations.
Coco Chocolate (Scotland)
Coco Chocolate has fast become Scotland’s premier chocolatier, and has revived the classical chocolate industry by having splendid chocolate shops where the consumer can come face to face with the chocolatiers. If you have ever read the book or seen the film Chocolat, then you will understand what we mean. You might half expect a red-caped child and imaginary rabbit to appear!
A visit to Edinburgh is incomplete without a trip to Coco Chocolate! If you go on the right day to the Chocolate Kitchen, then you can witness the art of chocolate making.
This artisanal chocolate company ethically sources all its single origin chocolate from Dominican Republic, and uses high quality ingredients to craft the most delicious chocolates, be it in bar or truffle form. The Coco Chocolate team is continually trying new flavours and textures to add to the existing rich quality cocoa. It is this handcrafted and hand-wrapped approach that keeps the chocolate company unique. Vegan chocolates are also on offer. CocoChocolate t: @CocoChocolateUK #SublimeCocoa
This is a unique two-brand chocolate company, produced out of the Weinrich chocolate factory in Herford Germany. The founder Andreas Meyer is a firm believer that chocolate is on its own cultural journey.
Bean to bar brand Vivani adds a spiritual element to the traditional chocolate making process with its focus on considered sourcing from 100% organic certified producers, including its cocoa farmers. With artistic flair on all its ecological packaging, the chocolate bar looks so good that you might wish to savour it before tucking into it straight away.
There is also the vegan version of the brand, iChoc, which dispels any myths that vegan chocolate is not as tasty as its milky counterpart. Sublime recommends you try their new Supernut bar, bursting with delicious roasted hazelnuts! t: @VIVANI_official t: @iChoc_official #SublimeCocoa
Raw Halo (England)
Recent studies suggest that it is not fat but refined sugar that is fuelling today’s obesity epidemic, and chocolate is most frequently blamed.
Raw Halo is fighting chocolate’s bad boy image through its promise of no refined sugar. Instead, the brand chooses coconut sugar and lucuma (an indigenous Andean fruit) powder as its natural sweeteners of choice, and is conscious of limiting all sugar to a bare minimum. Raw Halo may only be a one year old company, but it is already leading the way with its sugar avoidance tactics – boasting just half the amount of total sugar compared with other raw chocolate companies.
Made from 100% natural Peruvian raw cocoa and organic ingredients, Raw Halo combines the handcrafted brilliance of stone grinding for a smoother and more luxurious texture, with vital nutrients. With dairy-free and vegan raw chocolate also available, this is probably some of the healthiest superfood chocolate you can get your hands on. RawHalo t: @RawHaloUK #SublimeCocoa
Pana Chocolate (Australia)
Pana Chocolate was born in Melbourne when Pana Barbounis desired to create a luxurious chocolate with heart and soul. From a time when deliveries were made personally across Australia on the back of his scooter, Barbounis has grown a worldwide demand for his fair-trade brand. Each chocolate bar is vegan, and uses organic ingredients. Pana Chocolate celebrates the raw food concept, using minimal heat to produce this luxurious cocoa treat.
The chocolate is also free of refined of sugar, choosing to adds elements of citrus and herbs for its natural sweetness, from pineapple and goji, to fig and wild orange. Occasionally, the smooth and textured chocolate is given a touch of spice, such as ginger, or cinnamon. PanaChocolate t: @pana_chocolate #SublimeCocoa