There’s chocolate, and then there’s bean-to-bar chocolate. While many reputable chocolate companies use a standardized blend of cocoa from many countries, bean-to-bar chocolates tend to contain cocoa from a single bioregion. As with wine, this allows the unique flavors of rare and specialty cocoa strains to shine through in the finished product.
To determine which companies make the best bean-to-bar chocolates in the Americas, 24/7 Tempo looked at data from the International chocolate prices 2020-2021 Americas bean-to-bar contest (the most recent to be held), which evaluated hundreds of chocolate bars from producers in the Western Hemisphere. The bars were judged by an international panel of experts including chocolatiers, sommeliers, food journalists and pastry chefs. We have created a weighted index taking into account gold and silver winners as well as companies that have won several awards in various categories.
In addition to showcasing the terroir of single-origin cocoa, another benefit of bean-to-bar chocolates is sustainability. Many of the companies that produce these chocolates pay their cocoa farmers a living wage and source from farms that use sustainable growing practices, including various intercropping. Many industrial cocoa farms, on the other hand, clear-cut large tracts of rainforest, making chocolate one of the foods with the worst impact on the environment.
Click here to see the best bean-to-bar chocolates in the Americas
Pacari Chocolate – a company that won 20 competition awards – is a certified organic and biodynamic producer in Ecuador, sourcing the beans from local farmers who grow and preserve a range of age-old cocoa varieties using forest-based practices durable. One variety Pacari uses is the rare Arribia Nacional cocoa bean from Ecuador, which is known for its floral aroma and complex flavor profile, helping to make Pacari’s chocolate bars some of the best in the world. (If you prefer your chocolate in frozen form, here is a list of the best ice cream parlor in each state.)