10 of the Best European Craft Chocolate Brands
Chocolate making runs deep in many European culinary cultures. Belgium and France are home to some of the most renowned chocolate makers in the world.
Craft chocolate is a subculture within the chocolate culture, that is, in some ways, challenging the traditional chocolate making scene with bold inclusions and funky packaging.
Craft chocolate experienced a boom in the late 2000’s. Many people fell in love with cacao, the experience of making chocolate, and the ethical process of craft chocolates.
It led to a range of people, from no culinary experience to culinary chefs, starting to make craft chocolate.
Here are 10 of the best European craft chocolate brands.
Chocolate Naive (Lithuania)
Chocolate Naive makes chocolate in a little town on the Eastern side of Lithuania, where they make their chocolate from bean to bar. Naive makes chocolate in ways that help to reveal the character of a particular cacao bean. For some time already, their products have put Lithuania on the foodie map as a rising star of gourmet chocolate in the world.
Suggested bar to try: Naive Ambrosia 65%
This delicious bar uses pollen from Naive's own biodynamic apiary found next to the forest where the bees gather their exquisite nectar. Due to its unique location, the honey and pollen are dark ambers in colour and thick with notes of the mossy earth and her flavours. These notes create unusual alchemy with chocolate. The intricate process of combining honey with chocolate puts this recipe among the most technologically sophisticated recipes around.
Tasting notes: Woody & Licorice
Duffy's Chocolate (United Kingdom)
Duffy's is a small-scale producer of fine quality chocolate from Lincolnshire, UK. All of their chocolate is made from cacao beans with no substitute or artificial chocolate flavoring. Duffy's buys unroasted beans and performs the entire chocolate-making process in-house without compromising the integrity of the chocolate.
Suggested bar to try: Tierra Oscura 72%
Duffy's Tierra Oscura is a bar of lovely fruity complex chocolate with hints of cherries and licorice. The beans are bought directly from a farmer on a small island in Panama and must be transported in canoes across a lagoon.
Tasting notes: Fruity, Cherries & Licorice
Michel Cluizel (France)
Michel Cluizel has been a French Chocolate Manufacturer since 1948. For three generations, the Cluizel family has evolved amidst fragrances of chocolate. With the help of skilled Cacaofèviers, confectioners and chocolate makers, the family carries on with their tradition, where everything started in Damville, Normandy. The Manufacture Cluizel developed a direct, sustainable relation with cacao planters.
Suggested bar to try: Noir De Cacao 72%
Michel Cluizel's Noir De Cacao is a 72% dark chocolate bar. It is mellow, yet excelling in the aromatic intensity of woody, even licorice notes with very strong cacao flavors. Its remarkable length in the mouth is generous and smooth with a bit of bitterness at its finish.
Tasting notes: Woody & Licorice
OmNom Chocolate Reykjavík (Iceland)
Omnom is a small-batch, craft chocolate maker based in Reykjavík, Iceland. The chocolate maker was founded in 2013 by childhood friends Kjartan Gíslason and Óskar Þórðarson. Kjartan worked as a chef across Europe for two decades before discovering the amazing world of chocolate. Óskar worked in the fishing and start-up sector before launching Omnom. The company started as an experiment to see if the two friends can master how to make chocolate. From the start, they received positive tasting feedback. After receiving positive feedback, they set up a small chocolate-making lab inside a converted gas station and launched. Omnom's mission is to make the best chocolate possible using the highest quality of ingredients.
Suggested bar to try: Peru Gran Nativo Blanco 100% (Limited Edition)
This limited edition chocolate bar by OmNom uses rare, recently discovered Gran Nativo Blanco beans from Peru. This bar is perfect for cacao enthusiasts.
Tasting notes: Papaya, Burnt Walnut & Velvety
Pump Street Chocolate (United Kingdom)
Pump Street is an award-winning bakery in the village of Orford in Suffolk's Heritage Coast. After mastering naturally-leavened bread, they ventured into making chocolate from beans imported directly from single estates and cooperatives around the world.
Suggested bar to try: Sourdough & Sea Salt 66%
A unique combination of their two signature (and favourite) products: dark chocolate and sourdough. Their sourdough crumbs and a touch of sea salt add crunch and a smooth, malty flavour to the Ecuadorian chocolate.
Tasting notes: Red Fruit, Earthy & Sweet Bread
Domori Chocolate (Italy)
Domori was founded by the creative mind and passion for nature, gastronomy and cocoa of Gianluca Franzoni who, in 1993, after his studies in Economics & Business, arrived in Venezuela and, fascinated by the magic of cocoa, decided to develop a business model to reposition fine cacao. It was the first chocolate company to use only fine cocoa, focusing on high quality.
Suggested bar to try: Ocumare 77 Criollo 70%
Ocumare 77 is recognizable by the greater roughness of its cacao pod compared to the other Ocumare varieties. Its cultivation in purity is very rare because the plant often has empty beans inside the fruit. This variety features notes of apricot jam, cream, and dried fruit. Excellent roundness and persistence, with low acidity and bitterness.
Tasting notes: Apricot Jam, Cream & Dried Fruit
Amedei Tuscany (Italy)
Amedei’s journey starts with foundress Cecilia Tessieri’s small artisanal laboratory and her commitment to excellence. A search that gradually developed through study, passion and the rediscovery of ancient processing techniques. The raw cocoa pods selected by Amedei from plantations are harvested and sent directly to Tuscany, to be turned into true art pieces by their chocolatiers, who masterfully dose and hand-process a small number of selected ingredients.
Suggested bar to try: Toscano Red 70%
Toscano Red seals the extraordinary relationship between fruit and true chocolate. This bar features tiny pieces of red fruit (Strawberry, Raspberry & Cherry) on a dark chocolate canvas.
Tasting notes: Fruity
Artisan Du Chocolat (United Kingdom)
At the heart of Artisan du Chocolat is a commitment to innovation and excellence that breeds a constant stream of ideas created with passion, crafted for pleasure. They explore the world of chocolate with a careful balance of focused dedication and inspired roaming, often taking the road less traveled to create iconic chocolates.
Suggested bar to try: Black Cardamom 70%
This bar is infused with the queen of spices, this dark chocolate cardamom bar oozes sensuality and opulence, its richness balanced by the freshness of the spicy pods.
Tasting notes: Cardamom, Raisin & Raspberry
Friis-Holm Chocolate (Denmark)
Friis-Holm is a multiple award-winning chocolate maker, founded in 2008 by chef Mikkel Friis-Holm in the small Danish rural town of Lejre. Mikkel's background as a chef focused on the potential of raw produce, and with his insight in cacao growing conditions and the production of chocolate from his previous work with the Californian quality chocolate brand Scharffen Berger, Mikkel knew he wanted to do something different to shake up the world.
He saw huge culinary potential in working with the innate tastes of the cacao beans. The quality of chocolate comes directly from the cacao bean as he went against the tide to involve the people behind the beans, the cacao growers, into the process of making chocolate. The vision and goal of sourcing the highest quality of cacao has made Friis-Holm one of the most renowned chocolate makers in the world.
Suggested bar to try: La Dalia Dark Blend, The Lazy Cocoa Grower 100%
Friss-Holm 100% Dark Chocolate Bar, is an intense bar, with a blend of 10 different cacao growers from Nicaragua. This bar is full-bodied that unveils beautiful black cherry notes with pleasant acidity.
Taste notes: Fruity, Intense & Dark
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé (Hungary)
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé is a craft chocolate maker from Budapest, Hungary. It was founded by husband and wife, Zsolt Szabad and Katalin Csiszar, in 2004. Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé adds special attention to detail to their chocolates, and this is noticed in the creativity and deliciousness of their chocolate bars. Their chocolate bars are molded to look like a traditional fireplace tile and are hand wrapped in beautiful craft paper. They combine local ingredients with lightly roasted cacao beans and extensive refinement and conching, resulting in beautifully smooth chocolate that highlights natural flavors of the beans.
Suggested bar to try: Madagascar Trinitario 72%
The Sambirano Valley in Madagascar is the origin of a unique blend of trinitario cacao beans that this chocolate is made of. This bar is both sweet and sour like the fresh cacao fruit pulp.
Taste Notes: Floral, Spicy & Cacao
From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you’ll get inside the box!
Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars.
Have someone who you appreciate? It also makes a great gift!
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate shop! It's a selection of what we have curated in our past boxes.
If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box, or premium specialty crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.