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My Chocolate Truth as an Avid Consumer

Single-origin chocolate, I believe, has the highest potential, so that's what will get me to spend more if I see that on a label. That's also what will get me to go to a finer grocery to obtain it. I haven't gone through the trouble and expense to eat heaps of such chocolate, but I've had enough to understand this point or to have this view. It's what's called terroir in wine, though I don't drink even a drop. An amazing whiskey reviewer, who loves Springbank, name of Ralphy (of ralphydotcom YouTube channel), really likes single malts. Coffee, I would imagine is similar, where a blend muddles the properties among each other. If a company selects a source to commit to on a label, it's probably a good one, too, I would think. It's how the flavor dynamic comes through so clearly, since it's just one profile coming through.

Blends are not condemned by Ralphy. He reviews the likes even of Jim Beam. I'm no snob, either. I eat chocolate both as an indulgence and as a food on a regular basis. Once in a while I'll spend $8-10 on a bar, but don't usually go for $15+. Most of my regulars cost $3-7, common varieties of Lindt occasionally on sale for $2.50. And I don't eat it like a candy bar, for anyone who doesn't know how all this works. Okay, so, maybe I am snobby relative to your basic candy isle classics. There are a few sugar bomb abominations of my childhood I'd possibly select on a whim when hungry and in front of a vending machine.

Dark chocolate of 70% cocoa and higher (or perhaps lower if balanced with bitter garnishing or flavor)  is a wonderful food, and the bitter of the particular cacao beans used are essential to the overall flavor profile. Contrariwise, most milk chocolate is merely candy; if it's fancy, it's fancy candy. I've heard things about the various nutritional advantages and disadvantages of either, beyond the effects of added sugar, but not enough to comment, precisely beyond to say that lower sugar is preferred for tasting fine chocolate.

Ethical sourcing is something I look for, so only chocolate makers who at least claim to be ethical and or third-party verified are represented below, though they may not have found themselves on this verified listNegative revelations about a company would affect my reviews and purchasing, though it's a very complex issue. If you have a genuine, concerned, informed opinion about the ethics of chocolate harvesting you'd like to share with me, then reach out.

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Favorite affordable brands

  1. Mindo

    • I haven't had any in a long time, but their single source offerings are superb​.

    • But in the hazelnut version, the nut bitter overpowers the cocoa bitter.

  2. Scharffen Berger

  3. Alter Eco

    • Try their organic salted caramel truffle​.

  4. Lindt

    • They make single source. Where I'm at, they're available in fancy, boutique type grocery stores.

    • And I go up to their 85% on their plain dark bars.

    • I​ also especially like the sea salt and the orange bars.

    • I'm not sure they still make the dark chocolate truffles that come in bar package (though each piece is separate). Those have an enjoyable texture.

  5. Green & Black hazelnut and current: Sweet, chewy fruitiness from the currents combine with mild, crunchy nuts. Sometimes hazelnuts have a bitter that will compete with the chocolate, but these are mostly textural. The tang of the currents complements the cocoa.

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Other reviews

These aren't my favorites and may even include milk, but I either liked them or have something to say about them:


  • Chocolove Chilies and Cherries—It's not 100% about chocolate here, but it's a lovely mix of flavors that come in stages, finishing with a wonderful, mild heat. I also like their coffee, ginger, and nut butters.

  • Ghirardelli Midnight Tango—It's close to being a candy. Neither the charry or the almond offset the sweet. But, it's a very nice combo and worth trying.

  • Theo cherry, almond—I wanna say all their chocolate is somehow beefy in texture. The cherries are chewier and more mellow than in the Ghdl.'s tango so the chocolate flavors are pronounced. Theo gets sea salt wrong, I think.

  • Endangered Species Forest Mint: Has a true mint scent, which I find soothing; mint is not overpowering but you can even get a sense of it in your breath. Texture is firm to smooth while the cocoa and natural mint meld for a high refreshing tone that momentarily reads sweeter than most darks above 70%. The pleasant bitter of the cocoa integrates very well with the mint until it becomes more fully evident in a nice finish. That said, I feel like the company may have changed. I'm not certain.

  • Kinder—The US eggs are disgusting to me at this point but I still like the plain little bars (just called Chocolate, I guess) as well as Bueno, which is crunchy.

  • Cocoacara Terravita—empty, smooth crumble into notes of hazelnut and vanilla. Subdued cocoa bitter.

  • Chuao Firecracker—Sticky sweet for a dark, not much bitter, short spike of heat. The pop rocks do remind of fireworks, especially since they aren't just felt, but heard.

  • Taza Chocolate sea salt & almond—Dry though it does have some cocoa butter. Good food, but not a particularly sumptuous bar.

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