The bean-to-bar chocolate movement, represents a commitment to quality and transparency in chocolate making. It involves chocolatiers overseeing the entire chocolate production process, from sourcing the cacao beans to crafting the final product. This hands-on approach ensures a higher quality of chocolate, where the unique flavors of the cacao beans are celebrated. As we explore this movement, we'll dive into why bean-to-bar chocolate is not just a treat for the palate but an experience that connects consumers directly to the source of their chocolate.

Bean to Bar

What Is Bean-To-Bar Chocolate?

Bean-to-bar chocolate is a term that signifies a new era of chocolate making, where chocolatiers are intimately involved in every step of the chocolate production process. This method is defined by its commitment to quality and sustainability, starting from the very sourcing of cacao beans. Chocolatiers who practice this approach personally select their beans, often working directly with cacao farmers to ensure ethical and sustainable practices.

The process of creating bean-to-bar chocolate is meticulous and artisanal. It begins with sourcing high-quality cacao beans, which are then carefully roasted to develop their unique flavor profiles. After roasting, the beans are ground and refined, a step where the chocolatier's expertise is crucial in determining the texture and flavor of the final product. This process also includes conching, where chocolate is continuously mixed to develop its flavor and mouthfeel, and tempering, which stabilizes the chocolate for a glossy finish and crisp snap.

In contrast to mass-produced chocolate, bean-to-bar chocolate focuses on the character and quality of the beans rather than on replicating a consistent, uniform flavor. Mass-produced chocolates often rely on additives and artificial flavors, whereas bean-to-bar chocolates are celebrated for their natural, diverse flavor profiles that vary from one batch to another. This artisanal approach results in a product that is not just chocolate, but a reflection of the cacao's origin, the chocolatier's vision, and a commitment to the craft of chocolate making.

Bean to Bar

The Rise of Bean-To-Bar Chocolate

Initially a niche market, bean-to-bar chocolate began as an endeavor by small-scale chocolatiers who were passionate about returning to the fundamentals of chocolate making. They sought to create a product that was not only superior in taste but also ethically produced. This meant sourcing cacao beans directly from farmers, ensuring fair labor practices and sustainable agriculture.

The growth in the bean-to-bar movement's popularity can also be attributed to a growing awareness among consumers about the origins of their food. There's a heightened interest in understanding where ingredients come from, how they are processed, and the impact of these practices on the environment and local communities. Artisan chocolatiers have responded by offering transparency and traceability in their chocolate products, which has resonated with consumers who value authenticity and quality.

The unique flavors and textures of bean-to-bar chocolates have captivated the palates of chocolate enthusiasts. Unlike mass-produced chocolates, which often prioritize uniformity and cost-effectiveness, bean-to-bar chocolates are characterized by their diversity of flavors – a direct result of the various terroirs of the cacao beans and the individualistic approaches of the chocolatiers.

As a result, the bean-to-bar movement has transformed from a fringe interest into a significant force in the chocolate industry, redefining consumers' expectations and experiences of chocolate. This shift has not only changed the way chocolate is made and consumed but has also sparked a broader conversation about food ethics, sustainability, and the art of chocolate making.

Bean to Bar

Top Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Brands

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 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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Crow & Moss

Crow & Moss started in a basement and was born out of owner Mike Davies' sudden desire to learn how to make craft chocolate while driving home from work. With his initial setup, he began his journey and never looked back. Now, the company produces artisan chocolate in 100-pound batches at their 2000-square-foot factory in Petoskey Michigan, aiming to bring unique and authentic flavor experiences to chocolate lovers worldwide.

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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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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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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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LetterPress Chocolate

 LetterPress Chocolate is based in Los Angeles, California. LetterPress Chocolate's story starts in high school, where founders David and Corey first met. Their first experience with cacao was in 2011 when they traveled to St. Lucia on vacation and happened to stop at a cacao plantation where they got to taste the pulp from cacao pods for the first time. Two years later, the couple began a chocolate blog called Little Brown Squares reviewing bean-to-bar chocolate bars. David began purchasing small quantities of cacao beans from chocolate makers and brokers and started making his own batches. He eventually started making chocolate that tasted so good that they opened a Factory and even provide tours. LetterPress sources the best cacao in the world. They carefully roast every batch and stone grind over several days to bring out the unique flavors of each origin they source.

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Manoa Chocolate Hawaii

Manoa is a Hawaiian-based chocolate maker. Hawaii is the only state in the USA to grow cacao. The story of this maker began in the labs at the University of Hawaii in 2010 studying cacao as a crop for the state. Manoa started as college students with no money and bootstrapped their business with ingenuity and determination.

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Marou Chocolate

Marou was one of the first bean to bar makers in Asia. When Vincent Mourou left his advertising career in San Francisco, he moved to Vietnam to find himself. This is when Vincent met Samuel Maruta, a banker from France living in Saigon with his wife and two kids. The two had nothing but a blender, an oven, cake tins, and Sam's kitchen. Samuel and Vincent continue to work with a tight network of small farmers who they buy the best quality beans from.

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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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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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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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Pump Street 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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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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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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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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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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Kekao Box

How to Experience Bean-to-Bar Chocolate

At Kekao, we've created a unique way for chocolate lovers to dive into the world of bean-to-bar chocolate with our Kekao Box. Our passion for artisan chocolate drives us to carefully curate each box, selecting only the finest offerings from top bean-to-bar chocolatiers across the globe. We aim to bring a diverse range of flavors and styles to your doorstep, making each Kekao Box an exciting adventure in taste.

In selecting chocolates for our boxes, we focus on quality and diversity. We choose chocolates that stand out for their exceptional flavor profiles, the artistry behind their creation, and their unique cacao origins. This ensures that every box you receive from us is a journey through the world of premium, artisan chocolate.

For those new to bean-to-bar chocolate, a Kekao Box subscription is an ideal starting point. We provide tasting notes and detailed information about the origins and creators of each bar, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of the chocolate. Tasting our chocolates is an experience that engages all your senses, from appreciating the bar's appearance and aroma to enjoying the rich, complex flavors as they unfold on your palate.

By subscribing to Kekao Box, you're not just treating yourself to a monthly delight; you're also supporting a community of dedicated artisan chocolatiers who are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. Join us in exploring the delightful and intricate world of bean-to-bar chocolate, one box at a time.

December 07, 2023
Tags: Bean to Bar