10 American Chocolate Companies You've Got to Try
Countries like France and Switzerland may be world-famous for their exceptional chocolate, but they’re not the only places that have a variety of finely crafted, processed cacao. These U.S. chocolate companies will have you looking no further than your own backyard for some of the best in artisanal chocolate.
1. THEO CHOCOLATE // SEATTLE
cheeseslave via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
is known for its specialty bars made from organic, fair-trade cacao specifically sourced by owners Joe Whinney and Debra Music—former spouses-turned-business partners. Since 2006, Theo Chocolate has created "bean-to-bar" chocolate, meaning cacao beans are roasted, ground, and turned to chocolately bliss in one location. At times, Theo Chocolate is so slammed for orders that it manufactures chocolate bars—like its coconut dark chocolate and black rice quinoa crunch—24 hours a day.
2. RECCHIUTI // SAN FRANCISCO
Many small-scale chocolate creators look for quality ingredients sourced from organic cacao farms to produce high-quality bars. Recchiuti takes its chocolate production one step further by creating bars with local ingredients, including Napa Valley champagne. Owners Michael and Jacky Recchiuti opened the artisanal chocolate company in 1997 and focused on producing small-batch chocolates featuring quality ingredients, often sourcing fresh herbs from area farmers’ markets. Plus, earlier this year Recchiuti teamed up with brewmasters from two California breweries to craft beer that needs no pairing: a chocolate stout featuring the Recchiuti’s signature chocolate and burnt caramel syrups.
3. ROGUE CHOCOLATIER // THREE RIVERS, MASSACHUSETTS
Everjean via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
is run by one man, features two simple ingredients, and is based out of Three Rivers, Massachusetts. The small bean-to-bar chocolate producer, lead by Colin Gasko, focuses on highlighting chocolate's underlying flavors by using only cane sugar and single-source cacao. If you’re a fan of chocolate add-ins and flavoring, Rogue Chocolatier may not be your first pick, as Gasko believes "it’s a wasted effort to make really great chocolate and then throw some nuts on it." But when you're craving a pure, premium chocolate bar? Even Martha Stewart is a fan.
4. BEDRÉ FINE CHOCOLATES // DAVIS, OKLAHOMA
Potato chips, corn twists, and sandwich cookies are all high-demand, chocolate-dipped snacks sold by Bedré Fine Chocolates. But the company’s unusual cacao-based snacks aren’t the only thing setting this American chocolatier apart from other confectioners. It’s also the only U.S. chocolate factory owned by a Native American Tribe. In 2000, the Chickasaw Nation purchased the company, at the time operated out of a former elementary school in south-central Oklahoma. Since then, the company has created local jobs while boosting tourism—not to mention producing a variety of fancier chocolates such as its fudge, filled "meltaways," and filled chocolate bars.
5. FRAN'S CHOCOLATES // SEATTLE
Frank Fujimoto via Flickr // CC BY NC-ND 2.0
If the White House is asking for more boxes of your chocolate, you know they're doing something right. Seattle-based Fran’s Chocolates became a favorite of not only the Obamas when they were on the campaign trail in 2008, but also their Secret Service agents (despite President Obama’s reported unwillingness to share). Fran’s Chocolates opened in 1982 under the charge of Fran Bigelow, a chocolatier inspired by a trip to Paris, and has created high-quality truffles, caramels, chocolate bars, and dipped fruits and nuts since.
6. CHRISTOPHER ELBOW CHOCOLATES // KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Ulterior Epicure via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
You may have to throw an elbow to get a bite of these Midwestern candies. Christopher Elbow Chocolates is known for its small batch, artful chocolates, as well as its lengthy line of customers waiting to snag a few treats. Chocolates are hand-painted like small canvases, but the flavors—such as citrus praline, mango basil, and whiskey walnut—are the real masterpiece. But owner Christopher Elbow isn't just focused on the final look; chocolates are made from scratch featuring fresh ingredients and no preservatives—meaning they have a short shelf-life (which shouldn’t be an issue for chocolate lovers).
7. BON BON BON // HAMTRANCK, MICHIGAN
The owner of Bon Bon Bon was told that she’d have to move to a big city for her chocolate shop dreams to be successful. But Michigan native Alexandra Clark chose to stay close to home, sharing artisan truffles and chocolates in nearly 100 flavors with Hamtranck (and nearby Detroit) chocolate lovers. Since 2014, Bon Bon Bon has seen staggering support for the tiny chocolate treats, selling more than 2000 per day of its artisan chocolates such as Goat Honey, Margarita, Sticky Bun, and Johnny Cashew. While many flavors are seasonal, like Fried Green Tomato and Caprese, Bon Bon Bon takes time to honor its hometown with a specialty "Detroit Collection," with flavors inspired by the city’s classic culinary tastes.
8. TCHO // SAN FRANCISCO
Joi Ito via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
If you can’t easily pronounce this chocolate brand’s name right off, that’s OK—tasting it is more important anyway. Considered a tech start-up meets culinary delights kind of company, TCHO (pronounced "choh") relies on its own cloud-based technology to determine the best time to pick cacao beans for maximum flavor and minimal rejection for farmers. The end result of this technological influence is a variety of bean-to-bar flavored chocolates, such as Mint Chip Gelato, Mokaccino, and Coconut Crisp.
9. NO CHEWING ALLOWED // NEW YORK CITY
bionicgrrrl via Flickr // CC BY NC-NC-2.0
You don’t have to visit France to find mouthwatering chocolate truffles—No Chewing Allowed takes a 75-year-old French recipe and creates swoon-worthy truffles here in the States. Beyond the classic truffle, chocolate lovers can enjoy Coffee Beans, Candied Orange Peels, and Salted Toffee flavors, among others. As for the name? Owner Lior Genzel means it. The best way to savor a truffle is to let it slowly melt on your tongue, otherwise you’ll miss out on the full chocolatey experience.
10. K'UL CHOCOLATE // MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
Chocolate is known to have some health benefits, and K’ul Chocolate aims to make the best use of them. Owner Peter Kelsey is a cancer survivor on a mission to show that high-quality cacao has healthful antioxidants and glycemic index levels. Following radiation treatment, chocolate was one of only three flavors Kelsey could taste (next to coffee and protein), and in 2015, he launched K’ul Chocolate with the idea of returning chocolate to its roots as a health food. Since then, the company has focused on bean-to-bar chocolate in Minneapolis, featuring pumpkin seeds, guarana, and other nutritional ingredients in its bars. And with chocolate bars created to boost endurance and restore electrolytes, there’s no reason to feel guilty for indulging your taste buds.