In these strange times of constant lockdown, small chocolate businesses need our support now more than ever. So in an effort to make your shopping easier (& with the holidays in mind), here are the best places to buy craft chocolate online. We go from the best craft chocolate on Amazon to online craft chocolate retailers (sorted by country and region). There are even unique gifts for chocolate lovers and bean to bar chocolate subscription boxes.
Hopefully soon I can add sources for interesting creations made with ruby chocolate & WholeFruit Chocolate, but I’m in no rush for those. My focus is on bean to bar, craft chocolate makers, known for focusing on the quality & ethics of the cacao beans they use to make their artisanal bars, as well as the unique flavors therein. So back when I first discovered that there was craft chocolate on Amazon, I spent hours sorting through the varied options.
Before a few years ago, most online craft chocolate retailers could only afford to sell to their local market, so international options were scarce. If I’d wanted to buy a nice gift, I had very few choices. But now there are dozens of online craft chocolate retailers, gifts for chocoholics, as well as bars you can buy individually on Amazon. Bonus: craft chocolate buying tips!
This article was originally published in May 2018, and has been updated several times since.
Table of Contents
- Chocolate In The Times of Covid
- Craft Chocolate On Amazon
- Craft Chocolate Websites
- Craft Chocolate Buying Tips
Chocolate In The Times of Covid
Since the outbreak of Coronavirus around the world, almost all businesses have been hurting. Small craft chocolate businesses haven’t been immune to this, not by a long shot, and they need our help more than ever before in the months to come. The main way we can help these businesses is by buying their products and promoting them on social media; in this time of global quarantine, most interactions are now online.
But there are a few more creative ways that chocolate makers are enticing customers their way.
7 Ways Chocolate Businesses Can Attract Customers
- Put up less expensive versions of products on your website, sans packaging & bundled in special “quarantine sets,” like French Broad Chocolate’s “Naked Bars” sets, which they released within a week of their home state going into lockdown.
- Sell virtual gift cards in the form of a code that can be redeemed on a later date, preferably a much later date, like at The Chocolate House in DC.
- Offer free local delivery, and contactless pickup on-site from your factory, as most makers are now doing around the world. Some makers in more dense areas are offering bundled delivery with nearby local businesses, like restaurants and other small artisans.
- Automatically apply free shipping to all domestic orders over a certain amount, like Madhu Chocolate is doing for orders over $50.
- Keep a pop-up on your site, offering a discount on customers’ entire order, like Charm School Chocolate’s 20% off code in March & April.
- Do weekly or bi-weekly scheduled online chocolate tastings with customers, like Chocolate Noise has been doing with some makers she’s partnered with. Makers can offer special weekly tasting bundles for loyal customers to purchase and participate. Dandelion Chocolate has also been doing monthly virtual tastings, sharing bars made by other makers who use the same origins as they do, tasted together with the actual farmers who produce the cacao.
- Create new and unique products, like the chocolate bread from Bellflower Chocolate, a limited-edition batch which was delivered by bike in the Seattle area.
How To Accept Deliveries
Recent evidence suggest that the virus isn’t transmitted on packages, but better safe than sorry, I always say. So when you’re picking up or accepting packages, there are some basic steps you can take to make sure that the contents stay sanitary. Always wear gloves or use hand sanitizer before & after handling the boxes, or alternatively, keep all packaging in one area of the home and carefully sanitize between deliveries.
I know some steps may seem extreme, but the best way to keep flattening the curve is to be vigilant about things like this. You don’t know where & who & what that box has touched since it left the makers’ hands. If possible, open your mail outside with gloves on, opening the innermost packaging so that you’re able to remove the contents later; open your door to head inside. Then take out the inner contents and either bring then inside or place them in your prepared tupperware.
Bars and bonbons and all other products should be further removed from their wrapping inside, with a similar procedure done in regard to handwashing and sanitizing. Go back outside to place the packaging trash directly in the outside garbage cans. Remember that a chocolate maker can take every precaution in the world to keep their workplace sanitary, but they have no control over the choices of the delivery people. Keep yourself and your family and your country safe by taking this seriously, even nearly a year into all this.
Ordering Craft Chocolate Online
This part is just as simple as visiting a maker’s website and placing & paying for an order. But one other consideration is requesting that they send your chocolates with minimal packaging. This would lessen the impact upon the environment and lower shipping weight, as well as use less expensive packaging on the maker’s side. Boxes for bonbons can cost upwards of $1 each, and even $0.15 outer packaging for bars can add up with volume. Ideas like French Broad Chocolate‘s previously-mentioned “Naked Bars” address this issue beautifully.
Remember that when you choose to support small local businesses, this also means supporting your neighbors who work there, and the dreams of the people who continue to working hard to keep them alive. Personally, my family isn’t big on eating out, and generally we only buy chocolate on specific occasions. I’m the main supplier, if that wasn’t obvious. But we’ve committed to buying local take-out or delivery at least one a week for the duration of this crisis, and doing the same each month with chocolate from small-batch chocolate makers across the USA.
Don’t give up on small businesses just because it’s hard times. If you have the means to continue ordering chocolate and to donate money to local food banks, please please please do so. This crisis is not over, and it’s not going to end anytime soon. This is serious, but so are people’s livelihoods. We must be alone together.
Craft Chocolate On Amazon
Not only is there now a vast selection of craft chocolate to buy online, but many of these bars are being sold directly from the makers. Amazon certainly still takes their cut, but with the convenience of shopping for everything in one place, many more people are now exposed to quality chocolate. These are some of the most tempting bars I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on over the past several years.
Dark Craft Chocolate
Pralus Chocolate, Madagascar 75%: Made with malagasy cacao from the farm of Francois Pralus himself, this bar is bright and strong, but undeniably sweet. Crafted in the traditional French style of extra cocoa butter and a heavier roast, this is one of my favorites of Pralus’s many origins. Read my full review here.
Dick Taylor, Belize 72%: Not only is their packaging gorgeous, but it’s functional, too! Their Belize is made with cacao from Maya Mountain Cacao, a farmer cooperative in southern Belize, and one of my favorite single origins. With chocolatey base notes and a fruity finish, this is a bar I can’t wait to add back to my own collection.
Pacari, Fig Bar 60%: This is one of my mom’s favorite Pacari bars. When I lived in Ecuador I tried all of the bars available in his collection at the time, and this was one of the more popular choices amongst my friends. The fig flavor is imparted in the form of bits of dried fruit, contrasting nicely with the sweet 60% cocoa that characterizes all of this Ecuadorian maker’s flavored bars. It’s a very affordable introduction to craft chocolate, made all that much sweeter by being made in country of origin. Read my full review here.
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Milk Craft Chocolate
Michel Cluizel, Milk Salted Butter Caramel 45%: Gourmet milk chocolate almost sounds like a misnomer, but if you’ve heard of Michel Cluizel, then you know that it’s anything but. This darker milk chocolate offers up the sweetness of a traditional milk chocolate, but with a deeper flavor and crunchy bits of French-style caramel. You wouldn’t dare use this bar for s’mores.
French Broad Chocolates, Malted Milk 44%: As in love with this company as I’ve been for the past half decade, it won’t take but a few bites of this bar to get you all caught up and aboard the love train. Imagine that the malted milk balls of your youth got a grown up makeover, and not only tasted more like chocolate, but had the ethics of Mother Teresa, to boot. Read my full review here.
Manoa, Goat’s Milk Chocolate 69%: It would be difficult (read: impossible) to overstate how much I love this bar, not because of who made it, but because of how addictive it is. Despite the high cacao percentage, the splash of goat’s milk adds a subtle spice that emphasizes the sweet cocoa in this milk chocolate. Even better, it’s basically a health food at 69% cacao. Read my full review here.
White Craft Chocolate
Omnom Chocolate, Lakkris + Sea Salt: Straight outta Iceland, Omnom has been making waves in the craft chocolate world for some time now, most notably with their creative inclusion bars. This one in particular tastes a lot like the homeland, salted licorice at the forefront and sweet melty white chocolate in the background. Bonus: the packaging design is guaranteed to blow you out of the water!
Fruition, Toasted White: Though it’s become a trend over the last few years to create a browned butter milk chocolate, I have yet to be informed as to why caramelized white chocolate is still uncommon. It’s admittedly simple to do, and the caramel flavor of this toasted white chocolate proves that this sweet goodness should be available everywhere.
Milkboy, White Chocolate 26%: Milkboy is a relative newcomer in the fine chocolate space, and their bars sit at a more affordable place on supermarket shelves, but they still make quite a tasty product. This bar in particular is a rather sweet and milky white chocolate, which lives up to the brand’s namesake & the Swiss ideal of a truly milky chocolate. It manages to bring a delightful cocoa aroma together with a smooth texture and dairy-rich finish.
Raw Vegan Craft Chocolate
Raw food, and especially raw desserts are becoming increasingly popular in the vegan and paleo and raw food communities. This obsession has continued its reach into chocolate, and the parents of this movement in chocolate are none other than Raaka. The Brooklyn-based company has been making raw vegan chocolate for the last several years, and has finally broken into the Amazon market.
This Best Sellers Trio offers a great mix of the flavors the company has on offer, from the creamy cocoa of the coconut milk bar to the light acidity in their pink sea salt bar and the strong whiskey tones in their bourbon cask aged bar. This would make a great holiday surprise! Check out my review of a different Raaka bar, their Strawberry Basil, here.
Craft Chocolate Websites
These are a collection of sites where you can shop for craft chocolate that will be delivered straight to your door, curated as I have done so above, and with a much wider selection. I recommend you buy directly from makers themselves when possible, so to also check out this list of chocolate-making members of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association.
Since the craft chocolate scene is bigger in North America than anywhere else, you’ll notice that they have a much larger selection of sites noted below (& on the FCIA’s new site). But no matter where a chocolate shop is located, if they offer a range of international shipping, I’ve starred their entry.
North America: Craft Chocolate Online
- *Bar & Cocoa (the US, the largest online chocolate selection in the US and growing; also has a monthly subscription box)
- Cacao Review (the US, small selection with a focus on Utah chocolate makers)
- *Caputo’s (the US, large selection with a beautiful assortment of other gourmet foods to choose from; they’ve gotten my orders wrong in the past, but seem to be working on improving fulfillment)
- Chocosphere (the US, very large selection)
- The Chocolate House (the US, medium-large selection, including bonbons from around a dozen chocolatiers)
- The Meadow (the US, quite a large selection with an NYC-based retail store to match, and exclusive rights to sell a number of small makers)
- Yahara Chocolate (the US, a medium-sized selection including some chocolate candy bars & a slew of Wisconsin specialties)
- ChocExchange (Canada & the US, prices are a bit high, but the selection is exclusive to high-quality and well-known craft chocolate makers; also have a monthly subscription box)
- Chocolate Collective (Canada, quite large selection of makers with generally a few different bars available from each)
- État De Choc (Canada, very large selection of makers from around the world + their own cacao-based creations)
Europe: Craft Chocolate Online
- Chocoladeverkopers (Netherlands, with shipping throughout Europe and international shipping by special request; over 300 different bars on offer)
- Chocolate7 (Italy, with a physical retail shop in Turin; decent selection of many brands, as well as tastings & other events in their shop)
- Club Del Chocolate (Spain, bars & cacao-based ingredients from several dozen international craft chocolate brands; there’s even a cute scale for choosing the percentage range you’re interested in)
- *Cocoa Runners (UK, with shipping throughout Europe and a very wide selection; Cocoa Runners is always a solid bet)
- Darkest Desire (Hungary, a limited selection that has been growing over the last few months)
- Sekrety Czekolady (Poland, Quite a decent-size collection of all bean to bar)
Asia: Craft Chocolate Online
- The Chocolate Club (Hong Kong)
- Beans To Bars (Singapore)
- *Hello Chocolate (Singapore)
- Andiamo Chocolate & Coffee (South Korea)
- Tomoe Saveur (Japan)
Oceania: Craft Chocolate Online
Craft Chocolate Subscription Boxes
There are a huge number of craft chocolate subscription boxes available these days; it’s all the rage. A few of the online craft chocolate sellers mentioned above also have a physical store and/or a subscription box. Notably, The Chocolate Bar of New Zealand and Cocoa Runners have been putting out their variety boxes for awhile now. However many companies adhere to the subscription model, some for several years now.
Deliveries range from once a month to once every three months, depending on when you think you’ll need another fix. Subscribing to a maker or a service not only makes a great gift for you or a loved one, but it’s also a way to vote for better chocolate with your dollars. Put your money where your mouth is; pun intended. Below are eight notable subscriptions to consider joining or giving as a gift, both from chocolate shops & direct from makers.
Lonohana /// 3 bars delivered every other month, $300USD for the year. One of the first chocolate makers in Hawaii, Lonohana uses their own Hawaiian cacao beans to craft their exclusive chocolate bars, as well as hand-selected beans from around the world. These include both milk and dark chocolates, as well as the occasional inclusion of another Hawaiian ingredient. Lonohana’s bars started off delicious and have aged well; for those looking to taste Hawaii for less than the price of a plane ticket, I’d highly recommend investing in this subscription box. 6- and 9-bar subscriptions are also available.
Raaka /// 3 bars delivered monthly, $25USD. Since their establishment in 2010, Raaka has been killing the creativity game and putting out new releases each month, exclusively to their “First Nibs” subscription box members. Known as the unroasted chocolate company, the base earthiness of Raaka’s bars will certainly no appeal to everyone, but the flavors they offer might blow your mind. Turmeric Latte or Waffle Cone bar, anyone?
Kekao Co. /// 3-5 bars delivered monthly, $30USD per delivery. Kekao is one of the many craft chocolate subscription boxes which has popped up over the last few years. Started by a chocolate lover who knew what he wanted but just couldn’t seem to find it, the box is curated with the goal of expanding your palate for much less than the cost of a plane ticket. Currently only shipping to Canada and the USA.
Raconte Moi Un Chocolat /// 3 bars a month, €20. For either 3, 6, or 12 months of the year, you could have three bars of delicious craft chocolate delivered to your French address! This young France-based business offers a beautiful selection of chocolates from around the world, delivered to your doorstep every month except for July and August.
Cococlectic /// 4 bars once a month, $38USD. This US-based company offers boxes of 4 or 10 bars shipped at the beginning of every month, with discounts for paying for several months in advance. Shipping to Canada is available for $20 extra dollars per month.
Choba Choba /// 10 smaller bars and subsequently 3 large bars are delivered every two months, $165CHf for the year. Firstly, Choba Choba only delivers to Liechtenstein and Switzerland (where they make their chocolate). That said, the Swiss company is truly bringing quality chocolate back to the place it’s rumored to have never left. Using cacao from the two Peruvian farms with which they work exclusively, Choba Choba has made it their goal to work exclusively with chocolate lovers who share their dream of better chocolate and communities. I think their award-winning cacao and chocolates prove that this dream is becoming reality.
Cocoa Couriers /// 3 bars once a month, $25CAD. Undoubtedly craft chocolate-focused, this Canada-based subscription service has the market pointing in the right direction. The service also curates boxes of 4 or 5 bars, each $10CAD more than the last.
Chocolatl /// 3- or 6- or 12-months of handpicked artisan chocolate bars, price unknown. One of the few retail shops in Europe offering delivery, Chocolatl has been overtaking its home base of the Netherlands with a wide variety of craft chocolate bars, definitely worth the risk.
Craft Chocolate Buying Tips
Hundreds of decisions, big and small, go into the craft chocolate bar you’re about to buy, from what varietals of cacao to grow and when to harvest to how long to roast beans and the size of the font on the packaging. So now you, as the consumer, have a few decisions of your own to make. To help ease your decision-making process, I’ve identified the various factors that go into a chocolate bar, and how to know your preferences even if you’ve never tasted anything like it before.
Type Of Chocolate
White, milk, or dark (or ruby, sort of). It seems to be a straightforward concept that you’d have a favorite, but for me it depends on my mood. Some days I’m craving something sweet, so I’ll go for a milk or dark milk, and other times I want something really chocolatey, so I’ll go for a dark or a 100%.
Know how much sweetness you like and go off that; whites and milks tend to be sweeter than darks due to the percentage of the bar that’s made up of sugar. But there are some very mild dark chocolates that taste like a milk chocolate and are quite good for you, and vice versa with dark milk chocolates.
The percentage written on the packaging just tells you what percentage of the bar is made from cacao derivatives, both cacao solids and cacao butter. For a real-world application, a 55% dark milk chocolate recipe could be 25% cacao beans, 30% cacao butter, 15% whole milk powder, and 30% white sugar. This means that a person who normally eats dark chocolate may be surprised by the richness of a milk chocolate and vice versa.
When you’re buying craft chocolate online for someone else, it’s smart to try a few things in the middle percentage-wise. Same goes for yourself. Ask the seller if they have any recommendations for someone new to craft chocolate, and I’m sure you’ll get an enthusiastic list of options in return. Don’t be afraid to go dark if they recommend it, too, because some dark chocolates are very mild.
There are so many unique cacao origins out there now, and each has a different reputation, though there are always exceptions to the rule (especially as you get into single-region or single-plantation bars). Some common flavors are nutty for Ecuadorian beans, smoky for Papua New Guinean beans, and fruity for Malagasy beans.
If you have already tried enough bars that you know your preferences for (or against) certain tasting notes, then it’s worth getting to know these reputations a bit. It’s always a fun party trick to explain trends in cacao origins! Or even better, look into some cacao brands and pick a favorite cocoa bean producer.
Just like in sports, there will be some people who are better at the art of chocolate making than others. Some people have favorite makers, so you may want to do some digging into who the experts like. Some makers have wonderful subscription packages that make a neat gift for yourself or someone else so deserving; see above for more info. I won’t name any of the makers I’m not a huge fan of, but here are some favorites to look into as a newbie to artisan chocolate: Escazú, Solstice, Patric, and Manoa.
Some bars are worth the insane-seeming price tag, and some just aren’t. It’s up to you to find out which those are worth it for you. For me, if a bar is amazing enough I’ll shell out as much as $15 apiece. But some people don’t think the same way, and couldn’t care less if a bar was $2 or $20 as long as it contains cocoa and sugar. So know your audience and create your own “price to pleasure index,” as my friend Lowe (Choco Files) calls it.
Are you allergic to something or looking to find specific flavors? Do you want a certain texture to your bar, like the crunch of nuts or the chewiness of dried fruit? Largely it will come down to whether you want a single origin, or something more visually creative. To understand more about inclusions, read this article on what inclusions are and why to use them, but it boils down to extra ingredients/flavors in the chocolate.
Ask yourself honestly if you’re just looking for a pretty gift for a friend’s baby shower or the like. Do you have a relative who loves certain colors and is not too flavor-focused? Or are there certain out-of-the-box flavors such as lemongrass or rose petals that you want to avoid, maybe due to an allergy or aversion to change? Do you specifically want something locally-made or made with beans from a certain origin? If you’re serious about finding the perfect present, there’s a delicious list of questions to consider.
Storing Chocolate: Best Practices
In the hopes that it’ll make it longer than a few days, you should keep your bars or truffles in a dry room temperature environment, like a cupboard or on top of the fridge. If they’re open bars, put them in a Tupperware or other plastic container.
Even if they’re open, bars should last this way for a few months or longer, if you let them. Most chocolate is actually aged before it is put into packaging and sold on the open market, so further ageing your chocolate might not be a bad thing! It is bad to leave chocolate in extreme temperatures, however, as it could lead to a melting or breaking point. Literally.
Happy shopping! If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message or see if one of my other resource pages answers your query. For tips on buying craft chocolate online or elsewhere, be sure to check out my chocolate tasting guide so that you can learn what you want out of fine chocolate. If there are any other bars you think are worthy of adding to this list, namedrop them below! I’m always looking for some quality options to share with you all.
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