Welcome to the dark side....of chocolate. The rich, indulgent world of dark chocolate, where the stakes are as high as the cocoa content. Dark chocolate isn’t just a treat; it’s a journey of flavor. In this post, we'll unwrap the secrets behind the best dark chocolate brands that make each brand special. These  brands aren't your ordinary down the supermarket aisle chocolates. They're masterpieces painted on a canvas of cocoa, waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Buckle up, dark chocolate lovers, you’re in for a sophisticated treat.

The Best Dark Chocolate Brands

What is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a rich, less sweet form of chocolate made predominantly from cocoa solids and cocoa butter, with minimal to no milk solids. It typically contains a higher percentage of cocoa, ranging from about 50% to over 90%, which gives it a deep, intense flavor and a firm texture. Dark chocolate is valued not only for its robust taste but also for its health benefits, as it's rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which may improve heart health and reduce inflammation. Commonly used in both baking and savory dishes, dark chocolate is versatile in the kitchen and enjoyed globally.

Our Dark Chocolate Brand Criteria

When curating our selection of dark chocolate brands, we have two key criteria that align with our commitment to quality and ethical practices.

Makers Using Fine Cacao

Our focus is on chocolatiers who utilize fine cacao, a premium category of cocoa recognized for its superior flavor and quality. Fine cacao typically originates from specific regions known for their unique cocoa bean characteristics, including rare or heritage strains that yield a more complex taste profile. These beans are carefully harvested and expertly processed to preserve their distinct flavors, ranging from fruity and nutty to floral and earthy. By selecting brands that prioritize fine cacao, we ensure that our chocolate not only tastes exceptional but also reflects the unique terroir of its origin.

Direct and Transparent Trade

We emphasize the importance of direct and transparent trade practices in our chocolate selection. This approach involves purchasing from farmers at fair prices that reflect the true value of their labor and their crop, especially those cultivating heirloom varieties of cacao. Fair compensation supports the sustainability of these small farms by providing the financial means needed to continue growing these high-quality cacaos. Moreover, direct trade fosters closer relationships between producers and chocolatiers, leading to more ethical supply chains and ensuring that more of the economic benefits remain within local communities. This not only helps preserve rare varieties of cacao but also promotes environmental stewardship and social welfare.

What Brand of Dark Chocolate is the Best?

Here are some of the best dark chocolate brands, presented in alphabetical order to ensure an unbiased overview.

Akesson's Chocolate

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. 

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Amano Artisan Chocolate

Amano Artisan Chocolate is a small-batch craft chocolate maker based in Orem, Utah. Amano is an award-winning maker, they make all their chocolate on vintage equipment. Their small batch process allows Amano to control and observe flavor development, making each batch of chocolate not only delicious but unique.

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Amedei Tuscany

Amedei Tuscany stands as a testament to Italy's longstanding relationship with fine flavors and culinary excellence. Born in the heart of Tuscany, the brand has carved a niche for itself with its meticulous selection of cacao beans from the world's prime plantations. A commitment to authenticity and a deep respect for tradition shine through in each bar, ensuring that every bite is not just a taste but an experience. From the nuanced notes of their dark chocolates to the creamy richness of their milk variations, the Amedei Tuscany collection invites you to explore a world where Italian craftsmanship meets global cacao heritage.

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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.

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Cacao Sampaka

Cacao Sampaka is dedicated to reviving the rich cultural heritage of cacao and chocolate by creating high-quality, artisanal products. Originating in Spain, the brand stands out for its innovative flavors and commitment to producing fine chocolates from carefully selected cacao beans. With a focus on both tradition and contemporary tastes, Cacao Sampaka offers a unique chocolate experience that captivates connoisseurs and casual consumers alike.

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Cacaosuyo is a premium chocolate brand rooted in the rich traditions of Peru. Dedicated to showcasing the diverse flavors of the Peruvian cacao bean, the company meticulously sources and crafts its chocolates to preserve the unique tastes of each region. Through sustainable and direct partnerships with local farmers, Cacaosuyo ensures that each bar not only represents the finest Peruvian flavors but also supports the communities that nurture them.

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Cuna de Piedra

Cunda de Piedra Comalcalco is a group of Mexicans who are passionate about cacao. Its mission is to raise the quality of life of everyone involved in the process, from those who grow and harvest the land, to those who consume their bars. Cuna de Piedra is a homage to Mexican cacao. Each one of their chocolates is a reflection of the best lesson Mother Nature has taught us: good things take time, but they are worth waiting for.

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Dick Taylor Chocolate

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, based in California, is renowned for its meticulous bean-to-bar process. Using the finest fair-trade cacao and traditional techniques, they transform simple ingredients into exquisite chocolate bars. Known for their attention to detail, they roast, crack, winnow, stone-grind, and temper small batches of chocolate, ensuring quality and flavor. Their packaging, with its distinct, elegant designs, matches the sophistication of the chocolate inside. Dick Taylor's commitment to sustainability and direct relationships with cacao farmers reflect their dedication not just to great chocolate, but to a better world.

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Friis Holm Chocolate

Friis-Holm Chocolate, founded by Mikkel Friis-Holm, focuses on producing the world's best chocolate, emphasizing both exceptional taste and ethical production. Mikkel's journey began with an inspiration during his chef tenure in San Francisco and evolved through a significant collaboration with Nicaraguan farmers as part of a Danish development project aimed at improving local incomes through high-quality cocoa cultivation. This commitment to quality and fairness has led Friis-Holm Chocolate to win numerous Chocolate World Championships over the years. Today, they proudly operate Denmark's largest chocolate factory, maintaining a transparent production process and supplying premium chocolate to Denmark's top restaurants and bakeries.

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Fossa Chocolate

All the way from Singapore, Fossa’s two-ingredient dark chocolate bars showcase incredible talent, but their daring inclusion line is arguably the highlight of their labors. Lychee Rose, Chili Peanut Praline, or how about the International Chocolate Award winning Salted Egg Cereal? It’s Singapore’s favorite dish (tze-char) in a bar. Fossa’s vision includes adding new origin bars using Asian cacao beans, and expanding their line-up of well-executed, fascinating inclusion bars.

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French Broad Chocolates

French Broad Chocolate, founded by Dan Rattigan and Jael Skeffington, evolved from a cacao plantation in Costa Rica to a renowned bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Asheville, North Carolina. Embracing the cultural terroir of Asheville, they incorporate local ingredients and collaborate with the community to craft unique chocolates. Their journey reflects a commitment to quality, innovation, and a deep connection to their environment, symbolized by their namesake, the French Broad River.

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Fruition Chocolate Works

Fruition Chocolate, a small-batch artisan chocolate maker located in the Catskill Mountains, is known for transforming sustainably sourced cacao beans into delicious chocolates. Their process, which includes everything from careful roasting to conching and tempering, results in bars that highlight the natural complexities of the cocoa, earning acclaim from connoisseurs for both quality and ethical sourcing practices.

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Goodio Chocolates

Founded in 2015, Goodio is a food pioneer with a big heart. The story started with a question: “What if there was a food brand you could trust?”. Goodio was created on the principles of sustainability, well-being, and transparency. It's a vision to bring Nordic-inspired flavors to a chocolate brand for the global consumer.

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Goodnow Farms

Goodnow Farms is deeply committed to crafting fine flavor chocolate, highlighting the unique taste profiles of single-origin cacao from Latin America. By establishing direct relationships with farmers, they ensure access to the finest beans, which are often fermented and dried to custom specifications, allowing for a significant improvement in the livelihoods of the farmers through above-market compensation. Every chocolate bar is meticulously crafted at their 225-year-old farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts, involving every step from roasting to hand-wrapping, and even pressing their own cocoa butter for an exceptionally smooth chocolate. This meticulous process ensures each chocolate bar is "true to the bean," fully expressing the inherent flavors of the cacao.

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Jcoco Chocolate

Founded in 2012 by CEO Jean Thompson, Jcoco aims to transform chocolate consumption into both a gourmet experience and a force for positive change. Thompson's vision is twofold: to elevate how people engage with chocolate, treating it as a complex food akin to fine wine, and to leverage this everyday indulgence as a means to support and give back to cocoa farmers. By crafting chocolate with bold, balanced flavors and engaging in direct trade with farmers, especially in Peru, Jcoco ensures fair wages and sustainable practices, while also dedicating 10% of net profits to enhancing the livelihoods of these farmers. This commitment not only enriches the flavor profiles of their chocolates but also supports the future of high-quality, sustainable cocoa production.

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Keller + Manni Chocolate

Inspired and realized through collaboration between Chef Thomas Keller and Italian olive oil producer Armando Manni, K + M Chocolate crafts award winning bean-to-bar chocolate at their factory in Napa Valley, CA. 

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LetterPress Chocolate

Based in Los Angeles, California, LetterPress Chocolate was founded by high school friends David and Corey. Their journey into cacao began during a vacation to St. Lucia in 2011 when they tasted cacao pulp for the first time. In 2013, they started a chocolate blog called "Little Brown Squares" and began making their own chocolate. Their passion grew, leading to the opening of a factory with tours. LetterPress sources the world's best cacao, roasts each batch carefully, and stone grinds over several days to highlight the unique flavors of each origin they use.

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Luisa Abram Chocolate

Dive into the Brazilian Amazon with Luisa Abram, where wild cacao births exceptional chocolate. Collaborating with indigenous communities, she creates small-batch artisanal chocolates, blending wild cacao with organic cane sugar for a pure, spirited taste. Each bar, from dark to white, carries the rich terroir of the Amazon, enhanced with local flavors like açaí and cupuaçu. Experience the exotic allure of Luisa Abram chocolate, where sustainability meets award-winning taste.

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Manoa Chocolate Hawaii

Manoa Chocolate is a premium artisan chocolate brand, renowned for its rich, high-quality chocolates made from ethically sourced cacao. Each bar is crafted with meticulous care in Hawaii, capturing the unique flavors of the local terroir. Known for their sustainable practices and innovative flavors, Manoa Chocolate combines traditional techniques with exotic Hawaiian ingredients to create a luxurious chocolate experience. Their collection ranges from bold dark chocolates to creative flavor infusions, embodying the spirit of Hawaii in every bite.

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Marou Chocolate

Marou Chocolate is a premier artisan chocolate brand founded in Vietnam by French chocolatiers Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou. Renowned for its single-origin Vietnamese chocolate, Marou is a pioneer in the bean-to-bar movement, emphasizing direct trade and close relationships with local cacao farmers. By sourcing the finest cacao beans from distinct regions across Vietnam, Marou crafts chocolates that celebrate the unique terroir of each area, resulting in bars with complex flavors and exquisite textures. Their commitment to quality, sustainability, and ethical practices has not only elevated the profile of Vietnamese chocolate on the global stage but also garnered numerous awards. Marou's dedication to crafting luxurious, flavorful chocolates makes it a favorite among connoisseurs seeking a truly exceptional chocolate experience.

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Markham & Fitz

Lauren Blanco and Preston Stewart, University of Arkansas alumni, founded Markham & Fitz in 2014 with a vision to use business as a force for good in the cacao supply chain. Lauren, with her background in cultural anthropology and economic development, and Preston, with his expertise in chemistry and food science, combined their passions to create high-quality, ethically sourced chocolate. Since their first sale at the Fayetteville Roots Festival in 2014, the company has achieved remarkable growth, now distributing to 39 states and six countries, and being featured in outlets like Anthropologie and Oprah Magazine for their sustainability efforts. Today, led by Lauren as CEO, Markham & Fitz continues to champion sustainability, craftsmanship, and community, winning accolades such as the Women Owned Small Business of the Year and producing award-winning bars like the Ooh La Lavender, recognized by the Good Food Awards.

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Mirzam Chocolate

Mirzam chocolate maker drawn by the stars, tells the story of the spice trade through the lens of craft chocolate. This Emirati company, with five distinct lines of artisan chocolate, expresses the tale of the Middle East’s ancient role as seafaring traders, with each bar speaking to the history, culture, and traditions of those along the maritime Spice Route.

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Naive Chocolate

Chocolate Naive, one of 200 bean-to-bar producers worldwide, operates in a small town in Lithuania. The chocolate master carefully roasts fresh cacao beans every morning, creating handcrafted bars with complex flavors and seasonings. Only the best ingredients are used, and the company strives to become world-class craftsmen in working with this exquisite production. Naive makes chocolate that showcases the character of each cacao bean, putting Lithuania on the map as a rising star of gourmet chocolate.

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Original Beans

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.

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OmNom Chocolate Reykjavík

OmNom is a small-batch, craft chocolate maker based in Reykjavík, Iceland. 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 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.

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Pralus Chocolate

Maison Pralus, a revered name in French gastronomy, was founded by Auguste Pralus in Roanne in 1948. A master of his craft, Auguste became renowned for his creation of the Praluline, a delicious pink praline brioche, in 1955, the same year he earned the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. The legacy continued with his son François, who took over in 1988 and expanded the business to include a chocolate factory and multiple new stores across France. François, a passionate chocolatier, also ventured into cocoa cultivation with his own plantation in Madagascar, furthering the family's dedication to crafting exquisite chocolate from bean to bar.

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Pump Street Bakery Chocolate

Pump Street Bakery, originally known for their exceptional bread and pastry, now creates some of the best chocolate around. Using beans from renowned origins like Hacienda Limon in Ecuador and Finca 3 Marias in Honduras, Pump Street's chocolate is exceptional in both flavor and quality. Their inclusion bars, which combine chocolate and bread crumbs, offer a unique and delightful combination of texture, aroma, and taste. Indulge in Pump Street's one-of-a-kind creations and experience their passion for artisanal craftsmanship and commitment to delivering the best possible experience to their customers.

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Qantu Chocolate

Qantu Chocolate's origin traces back to Elfi and Maxime's chance encounter in Cusco, Peru, sparking a mutual passion for cocoa. Inspired by the artisan bean-to-bar movement and the rich flavors of chocolate, they founded Qantu Chocolate in 2016, drawing on their unique backgrounds from cocoa-producing and chocolate-consuming countries. Their commitment quickly translated into international acclaim, with their initial bars winning prestigious awards at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London by 2017. Named after the national flower of Peru and Bolivia, Qantu symbolizes unity and hospitality, reflecting the founders' heritage and the inspiration behind their venture.

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Raaka Chocolate

Raaka is devoted to making uncommonly delicious chocolate that captures the brighter, bolder, and fruitier side of cacao. They make every bar from scratch with unroasted cacao beans, sourced from growers they trust and admire. The unique flavour of their unroasted chocolate is part place, part process. They craft their bars in celebration of each cacao origin's unique character. Their chocolate making process values the community of growers, producers, and makers whose livelihoods depend on cacao and chocolate. All of their chocolate is made from scratch, bean-to-bar, in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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Ranger Chocolate

Based on family recipes and named for founder George Domurot’s niece, a National Park Service Forest Ranger, Ranger Chocolate Company carefully handles each cacao bean to unlock nuance, regionality, and terroir-driven flavours in their chocolate.

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Ritual Chocolate

Ritual Chocolate produces small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate using classic European methods and premium cacao from select sources. Founded in 2010 by Robbie Stout and Anna Davies, their mission is to produce exceptional quality chocolate while celebrating the complexity of the cacao bean. At their small chocolate factory in Park City, Utah, they are involved with the entire chocolate-making process to ensure their values for the highest achievable quality are present every step of the way.

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Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé

This brand makes some of the best chocolate in the world. Explore their single origin bars, made with beans from the likes of Venezuela’s famous Franceschi family. The roasts are well-balanced and the bars are made without the addition of vanilla, allowing for a very deep exploration of terroir while still maintaining that distinctly European “chocolateyness.”

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Sabadi Chocolate

Modica style chocolate, born in the elaborate and eponymous city in southeastern Sicily, has long suffered in reputation due to cheap cacao from dubious sources. Enter Simone Sabiani, Modica restaurateur with a restorative eye for food, natural wine, and chocolate. His Sabadì chocolate taps the potential of Modica style, known for cold processing, lack of added cocoa butter, and rough texture, to highlight the raw materials that go into its creation. Sabadì showcases how ethical sourcing, attention to detail, and thoughtful inclusions can match this unique style to the baroque beauty of its rich history.

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Standout Chocolate

Standout Chocolate is committed to the craft chocolate revolution, producing bars using only two ingredients, organically sourced cacao beans and cane sugar. They select the world's finest cacao, crafting it into small batches to ensure superior quality. Their dedication to sustainability is shown by their use of organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, making their products a top choice for environmentally conscious chocolate enthusiasts.

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Taza Chocolate

Taza Chocolate makes stone-ground chocolate. Cacao is so complex in flavor that they want to let it shout loud and proud. That is why they do less to bring us more. They stone grind organic cacao beans into perfectly unrefined, minimally processed chocolate with bold flavor and texture, unlike anything you have ever tasted.

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To'ak Chocolate

To'ak Chocolate sets the standard for luxury, crafting some of the world's most expensive bars, priced between $100 and $300, from the rare Ecuadorian Nacional cacao. Once thought extinct, this ancient variety was rediscovered by To'ak in one of Ecuador's last standing groves, making their chocolate a treasure of both taste and history. Their commitment to preserving Nacional cacao amidst modern high-yield crops marks To'ak not only as purveyors of fine chocolate but also as protectors of a rich cacao legacy.

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Valrhona Chocolate

Valrhona is a French chocolate company founded in 1922. The company produces a wide range of high-quality chocolates, including dark, milk, and white chocolate, as well as chocolate bars, pastries, and other confections. Valrhona's chocolate is known for its rich, intense flavor and is used by many professional pastry chefs and chocolatiers around the world. The company is based in the small town of Tain l'Hermitage in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

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Dark chocolate, it's not just a treat, it's an experience. The flavors, the richness, the pure quality, it's tremendous. Whether you're into the intense, powerful 100% bars or something a bit milder like 80%, we've got it all. For those who want the best, check out our subscription box for monthly deliveries of the finest chocolates. 

May 27, 2024