6 Ethically Sourced US Craft Chocolate Makers
A decade ago craft chocolate made a surge in the United States, there was an explosion of new makers creating amazingly delicious and unique chocolate in small batches all across the country.
The best thing was it was being done in a new way.
The main ingredient used in making chocolate is cacao. These makers not only used premium cacao but sourced it in most cases directly but always fairly.
The new movement that started is called "bean to bar" and some makers refer to themselves as Bean to Bar rather than craft to support the movement.
Bean to Bar makers control the entire chocolate-making process, from sourcing the cacao to grinding and conching the chocolate. This ensures the entire process can be transparent and fair from the cacao to the chocoholics taste.
Bean to Bar ended the old technique of buying European made chocolate. This new movement craft chocolate makers started in the USA has spread across the world quickly.
Here are six craft chocolate makers from the USA who are making chocolate ethically that you need to try.
Fruition Chocolate Works and Confectionery- Woodstock, New York
Fruition Chocolate Works and Confectionery is a craft chocolate maker that carefully selects ethically and flavorful cacao beans, using traditional and modern techniques.
Fruition was founded by Bryan Graham. From a young age, Bryan had a passion for chocolate and food. The passion came from his grandmother, an outstanding baker. He would visit his grandma's farm in upstate New York, learning to pick the perfect ingredients and transforming them into baked goodies.
At 16, Bryan began a mentor program, where he became an apprentice at the renowned Bear Cafe in Woodstock, New York, eventually becoming an Assistant Pastry Chef and at age 18 being promoted to a Pastry Chef. Bryan decided to continue his education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Bryan's interest in chocolate came when he made a bean to bar chocolate with chef Peter Greweling. Since, Bryan has continued to educate himself on the science, technique, and craft of handmade chocolate. Bryan was named the top 10 North American chocolatiers and has won a multitude of awards.
If you are interested in learning to make chocolate, Bryan has recommended to us his top chocolate books.
Our favourite bar? Their Limited Edition Fruition Wild Bolivia 74%. This award-winning limited edition chocolate bar by Fruition features extremely rare Beniano, a genetic strain of cacao originally wild-harvested along the Beni River in the Bolivian Amazon by indigenous tribes. This bar was featured in our August 2019 Kekao Box.
Askinosie Chocolate- Springfield, Missouri
This craft chocolate story starts in the courtrooms of Springfield, Missouri, where the founder of Askinoise Chocolate, Shawn Askinoise, practiced law as a criminal defense lawyer.
The courtrooms are exhausting and Shawn needed a change, he had a simple prayer nearly every day for 5 long years: “Dear God, please give me something else to do.”
It was on a drive home when the prayer came to him, he should be a chocolate maker. With no experience other than the love of eating it, Shawn soon found himself in the Amazon studying cacao farmers.
Shawn knew no one at the time was making bean to bar chocolate. Sourcing and importing cacao directly would allow customers to know precisely where the chocolate came from and would allow Shawn to treat the farmers with fairness, dignity, and respect while making sure they receive their fair share of the income.
With a tabletop grinder and a bag of beans, Shawn started making chocolate in the kitchen of his house. Soon Askinosie went from the kitchen to a restored building with more family members joining the movement.
Working with farmers and communities from four continents, Askinosie tries to make the perfect chocolate bar. What is great at Askinosie is their social responsibility, the company is committed to fairness, sustainability, minimal environmental impact, and community enhancement.
Not only is their chocolate delicious they make you feel great about eating chocolate.
Our favourite bar? It has to be their Dark Chocolate + Peanut Butter Bar, you don't see a lot of craft chocolate makers using peanut butter in their chocolate. Askinosie adds real, natural crunchy peanut butter from Big Spoon Roasters to their smoothest dark chocolate for a creamy bar reminiscent of a sophisticated peanut butter cup.
Ritual Chocolate- Park City, Utah
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.
They source some of the highest quality cacao in the world to make their chocolate. With no added flavours, their chocolate is an authentic expression of the flavour unique to each origin.
Our favourite bar? Novo Coffee 60% chocolate bar, this unusual coffee chocolate bar has fruity Ethiopian coffee with the balanced flavour of their Mid Mountain Blend and the result is a balanced, smooth coffee-infused chocolate bar that coffee and chocolate lovers will adore.
Dick Taylor- Eureka, California
Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor have always loved crafting. With a background in woodworking and boat building, they have always worked with their hands. Craft is a guiding principle in their lives. After hearing about the craft chocolate movement in the late '00s, they saw similarities in woodworking and craft chocolate making. They became fascinated with the idea of the chocolate experience and in 2010 they invested in their first chocolate-making equipment.
They source the finest fairly-traded cacao and ingredients alike to perform all chocolate-making steps in-house at their small factory in Eureka, California to turn raw ingredients into delicious chocolate. Their chocolate captures and highlights the subtle flavour nuances in the cacao they source from around the world, with the goal to make an enjoyable chocolate experience for us.
Our favourite bar? Brown Butter with Nibs & Sea Salt. This bar features browned Humboldt Creamery butter paired with their 73% Northerner Blend, hand sprinkled with roasted cacao nibs and sea salt.
Oodaalolly- San Francisco, California
Markham & Fitz- Bentonville, Arkansas
Markham & Fitz started in 2014 when two University of Arkansas alumni Lauren Blanco & Preston Stewart pulled their savings together to buy chocolate making equipment.
Lauren worked in grassroots economic development, this is when she encountered her first cacao farm. Driven to make a positive difference in the cacao supply chain, she leads the company's strategy, creative direction, and product development.
Preston has a background in chemistry and a passion for food science. After tasting craft chocolate for the first time, he dove headfirst in the art of making craft chocolate. Preston leads the company's production operations, quality control, and ensures the highest quality chocolate is made.
Markham & Fitz's mission is to celebrate people and the cacao bean. They practice sustainability like zero-waste initiatives, compostable and recyclable packaging, transparency in supply chain and sourcing high-quality cacao beans.
Our favourite bar? Markham & Fitz Hati 75%. This 75% dark chocolate bar by Markham & Fitz features notes of cinnamon raisin and brownie that will surprise your palate, with orange peel, and dried fig following for a lingering finish. This bar was featured in our January 2020 Kekao Box.
From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you get inside the box!
Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars.
Have someone who you appreciate? It also makes as a great gift!
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate shop, it's a selection of what we have curated in our past boxes.
Too much chocolate? You can pause at any time!
If you have any questions regarding this blog, our Kekao Box or premium specialty crafted chocolate bars, feel free to contact us! Keep up with us by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.