Feature

8 Top Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers Around the U.S.

By Megan Giller  |  January 30, 2017

Bean-to-bar chocolate is having a moment: In 2005 there were only a handful of makers in the U.S., and now there are around 200. What exactly is bean-to-bar chocolate, or craft chocolate, as it’s often called? Unlike chocolatiers, who use premade chocolate that they melt and turn into truffles, bark and other confections, bean-to-bar makers start with whole cocoa beans, which they roast, grind and smoothen into chocolate from scratch. It’s a long, arduous process, but the focus on high-quality beans and intense flavor means they’re transforming chocolate from a childhood treat to an adult essential. Check out these top-notch makers below and also check out Zagat's Instagram all week long for a live-stream from Portland's Woodblock as well as other Chocolate Week content. Sweet.

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  • Credit: Alan McClure

    Patric Chocolate in Columbia, MO
    Patric is really just one guy: Alan “Patric” McClure. At his factory in Columbia, Missouri, he makes some of the best chocolate bars in the world — all while attending school full-time for a graduate degree in food science (so that he can make even better chocolate). His bars are in high demand, so if you want some of the goods, sign up for his newsletter and order them quickly when he releases a new batch, at the beginning of each month.

    What to try: Triple Ginger Bar and PBJ OMG, which is exactly what it sounds like: a fruity peanut butter bar to make you feel like a kid again

  • Credit: Dick Taylor/FB

    Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate in Eureka, CA
    Best friends Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick started making chocolate because they liked working with their hands: As trained carpenters, they’d previously built boats and cabinets, among other things. Now they make some of the most delicious and most beautiful chocolate in the country. They letterpress the labels themselves and use a custom-made, intricate mold that makes their chocolate stand out even further.

    What to try: Single-origin Belize dark chocolate, brown butter milk with nibs and sea salt

    4 W. 4th St., Eureka, CA; 707-798-6010

  • Credit: Dandelion/FB

    Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, CA
    This chocolate maker’s factory in San Francisco is a fantasy come true: In the front you’ll find tantalizing sweets like the brownie flight and cacao fruit smoothie as well as a nice selection of bars. In the back, tour the factory itself and learn how chocolate is made from scratch, or take a class to dive in deeper. Dandelion is soon expanding to an even bigger factory down the street, and they’ve even opened up a location in Tokyo, which sells out of chocolate bars and pastries daily.

    What to try: Single-origin Venezuela dark chocolate, single-origin Ecuador dark chocolate

    740 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA,; 415-349-0942

  • Credit: Askinosie Chocolate

    Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, MO
    After a 20-year career as a defense attorney, founder Shawn Askinosie decided to “retire” and start a chocolate company. He spends almost as much time trying to make his farmers’ lives better as making tasty chocolate, with profit-sharing programs, mentoring and even a program called Chocolate University that brings underprivileged kids from his hometown of Springdale, Missouri, to Mababu, Tanzania, to understand the impact of small business. Find Askinosie chocolate used in places like Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Van Leeuwen.

    What to try: Single-origin Tanzania dark chocolate, dark milk with fleur de sel

    ​514 E. Commercial St., Springfield, MO; 417-862-9900

  • Credit: Castronovo Chocolate/FB

    Castronovo Chocolate in Stuart, FL
    It’s worth visiting the tiny town of Stuart, Florida, just to hang out at Castronovo’s chocolate store and factory: There you’ll find baked goods and confections not available online, made with owner Denise Castronovo’s chocolate. Castronovo focuses on rare, heirloom cacao and transforms it into delightful chocolate bars with the highest level of skill. Plus, she’s one of the only women in chocolate to have won an International Chocolate Award or a Good Food Award.

    What to try: Sierra Nevada Colombia dark milk, Amazonas dark chocolate

    555 S. Colorado Ave. #103, Stuart, FL; 561-512-7236

  • Credit: Jacky Recchiuti

    Woodblock Chocolate in Portland, OR
    If you’re a fan of Stumptown Coffee, you’ve probably tried Woodblock Chocolate and not even realized it: The roaster uses Woodblock in their mochas and hot chocolate. Also find it used at Salt & Straw and Urban Farmer, among other places. Chocolate maker and owner Charley Wheelock is about as quirky as his hometown of Portland: He occasionally wears a wig made completely of chocolate (his own, of course). 

    What to try: Single-origin Madagascar dark chocolate, toasted sesame

    1236 SE Oak St., Portland, OR; 503-477-5262

  • Credit: Fruition Chocolate

    Fruition Chocolate in Shokan, NY
    Chocolate maker and owner Bryan Graham used to be a pastry chef, and it shows: In addition to creating amazing chocolate bars, he also makes mouthwatering brown butter bourbon truffles; jalapeño-dusted, chocolate covered corn nuts; and a rotation of other confections at his shop in Shokan, New York. There’s a good reason his Marañon Canyon dark milk bar recently won a Gold Award in the International Chocolate Awards world competition.

    What to try: Marañon Canyon dark milk, toasted white chocolate (yes, a fantastic white chocolate!)

    3091 NY-28, Shokan, NY; 845-657-6717

  • Credit: Ritual Chocolate

    Ritual Chocolate in Park City, UT
    Chocolate makers Robbie and Anna Stout were eating chocolate every day (their ritual, you might call it) when they decided it would be fun to start making it themselves. Eventually Robbie quit his job as a writer and editor for a cycling magazine and went all in: Now you can visit their adorable shop in Salt Lake City where you’ll find bars as well as hot chocolate, coffee and chocolate granola.

    What to try: Mid Mountain Blend dark chocolate, Novo Coffee dark chocolate bar

    1105 Iron Horse Dr., Park City, UT; 435-200-8475