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.
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 could master how to make chocolate. From the start, they received positive tasting feedback. After-which, 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: OmNom Coffee + Milk 38%
OmNom's Milk+Coffee is classified as a chocolate bar; however, there's not really any cocoa solids to speak of here. You see, this bar is made entirely from coffee beans. No cacao mass at all. There is some cocoa butter for texture's sake, but this is truly a coffee bar. Given that, it's the ultimate midday pick-me-up, the treat hidden in your desk, the snack you really should keep away from the kids, the heaven on earth kind of bar... you get the idea, right? Treat yourself to a new kind of bar, the coffee kind.
Original Beans (Switzerland)
Since 2008, Original Beans has ventured into remote rainforests to source the world’s rarest cacao beans and transform the cultures of chocolate, food, and luxury. Original Beans founder, Philipp Kauffmann, represents the 7th generation in a family of recognized nature explorers and conservationists who coined the term “sustainability”. Philipp gave up his job at the United Nations in New York to grow Original Beans as a leading brand for a world in which we regenerate what we consume. For each bar purchased, Original Beans plants a tree with their initiative, One Bar One Tree.
Suggested bar to try: Original Beans Arhuaco Businchari 82%
Heights of sweet spice, licorice, and sesame rise gently in this ultra-rare chocolate made according to ancient Arhuaco tribal traditions that are designed to maintain the world's natural harmony.
Tasting notes: Sweet Spice, Licorice, and Sesame
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
It was in April of 1954 when the master chocolatier Francesc Agrás embarked on a long journey through the best patisseries and confectioneries in Europe. His passion for excellence in artisan confectionery was the seed that led to the founding of one of the most renowned Catalan chocolate factories: Bombons Blanxart. It all started in a modest workshop in the neighborhood of Les Corts (Barcelona) and feeding a dream: bringing the best cocoa beans from Ghana, Congo, and Guayaquil to chocolate.
Suggested bar to try: Blanxart Nicaragua Eco-Organic 85%
This is a bar of organic dark chocolate made with 85% Criollo and Trinitario cocoa from Nicaragua. It is one of the smoothest 85% chocolate bars we have tried. Definitely a bar for those who are new to high percentage bars.
Tasting notes: Lemon, Orange, Flowers & Nuts
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
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
Akesson's Organic Chocolate is the first "Tree-to-Bar" chocolate maker. The Akesson family started with a single plantation in Madagascar. Today, Bertil Akesson has expanded the company's cacao network with plantations in Madagascar, Brazil, and Indonesia. If you tried craft chocolate or world-famous chocolatier chocolate, it is likely that it came from one of Akesson's cacao plantations. Akesson's Organic Chocolate bars have won a multitude of awards and is regarded as one of the best craft chocolate bars on the market.
Suggested bar to try: Akesson's Brazil Dark Milk 55%
Grown on a plantation tucked into an exceedingly biodiverse forest, this bar celebrates deeply flavored Brazilian cacao with the addition of naturally sweet milk. Centrally located in the Mata Atlantica in Bahia, Brazil, Akesson's grows Forastero beans on the historic Fazenda Sempre Firme plantation. They created a community referred to as 'Paraiso'(paradise) and grow the 'Parasinho' variety which has brought glory to Bahia.
Award: 2016 Academy of Chocolate Bronze Winner
Tasting notes: Woody, Sweet Cream, Rich Chocolate
To get started with craft chocolate, start with our Kekao Box. We search the world for the finest chocolate bars and bring them right to your doorstep monthly. 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.
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate store.
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