Read Caption
A few of the boutique sweets on offer at Moonstruck in Portland, Oregon. (Photograph courtesy Moonstruck Chocolate)

Reader Recs: World’s Best Chocolatiers

The best thing about the digital age is dialogue. We’re not here to tell you what we think you need to know; we’re here to start a conversation — to ask you for your input, to learn from your experiences and expertise, and to share that local insight with the world.

Some of the best conversations spring up around controversial topics — and a recent post about the world’s best chocolatiers has provided a jumping-off point for just that.

Without further ado, here are some of the best chocolate producers the world over from our Intelligent Travel readers:

Wong in Hong Kong says: “[Brussels-based chocolatier] Pierre Marcolini should be on the list and not Godiva!” George Ammerlaan in the Netherlands agrees: “In Belgium, Godiva is seen as just one of many good chocolatiers. The really good ones include masters like Pierre Marcolini and the House of Wittamer.” Luc in Minneapolis recommends Leonidas, “a very well-known Belgian confectioner,” and Callebaut (a Belgian giant that merged with Cacao Barry to form Barry-Callebaut), which he says makes “excellent dipping chocolate.”

A 10-pack of Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers chocolate bars. (Photograph courtesy Mast Brothers Chocolate)
A 10-pack of Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers chocolate bars. (Photograph courtesy Mast Brothers Chocolate)

Bertil in Paris writes: “As America is certainly the most innovative country right now in the chocolate world, there is also much to say about world class chocolate makers like Amano [in Orem, Utah], Askinosie [in Springfield, Missouri], [San Francisco-based] DandelionMast Brothers [in Brooklyn, New York], Patric [in Columbia, Missouri], [Denver, Colorado-based] RitualRogue [in Three Rivers, Massachusetts], and many others that are showing a new way about craft and quality.”

Pat from Vancouver, Canada says: “Thomas Haas…has brought his chocolates from Germany to New York to Vancouver – to die for!” The Baldwin family in Brantford, Ontario recommends another Canadian chocolatier to go gaga over: Rogers’ Chocolates in Victoria, B.C. “You are able to see the offerings [on their website],” they wrote, “but be warned: cover your keyboard to protect it from drool.“

Kiwi Teresa recommends Makana Chocolates in KeriKeri, New Zealand. “Having tasted many fine chocolates from northern Europe, I’d say they were right up there,” she says. While we’re on the topic of New Zealand, several readers touted the chocolate cred of Patagonia Chocolate in Queenstown.

Mary Lojek recommends checking out Concertos in Chocolate in Boulder, Colorado and Christophe in Charleston, South Carolina. “I love these small passionate chocolate makers,” she said.

Delectable goodies on display at one of Paul A. Young's retail stores. (Photograph courtesy Paul A. Young)
Delectable goodies on display at one of Paul A. Young’s retail stores. (Photograph courtesy Paul A. Young)

Roxanne Browning, a chocolate sommelier in New York who says she knows “a bit about the leaders” writes: “You forgot the most recognized chocolatier by most in the chocolate business, Paul A. Young” in London.

John Richardson suggests the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company, “one of the only chocolate companies to grow, harvest, process, and produce their own chocolate.”

Keith in San Diego, California writes: “The best chocolate that I‘ve tried is from Bissinger’s in St. Louis [Missouri]. They started in the 1600s in France and Mr. Bissinger came to the U.S. in 1845.” Speaking of Missouri, three readers put Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates in Kansas City at the top of their lists. According to one of them, Daryl Roberts, they also “make the best ice cream in the world.”

Miguel recommends Chocolates El Rey, a Venezuelan chocolate brand made from Venezuelan cocoa (“Yes, I’m Venezuelan,” he joked by way of revealing the potential for bias.), citing their San Joaquin Private Reserve as a good place to start (you can order online). While elsewhere in the Central American world, IXCACAO (formerly Cyrila Chocolates) invited readers to come to Belize to experience 100% Maya chocolate.

Two readers — Dave and JoAnne — are stuck on Moonstruck Chocolate in Portland, Oregon. Portland’s sister city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, received rave reviews as well. Sharon Eskridge in Rancho Mirage, California asks: “How could you miss Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle? She has an exceptional product and produces the best dark chocolate I have ever tasted.“

Carmen Farré Fiol from Cerdanyola del Vallès recommends “a small shop in Barcelona” called Farga.

Judy, who describes herself as “a military person who has had the good fortune to try chocolates around the world,” writes: “Until you have tried Zoe’s Chocolates, you are truly missing out.” She reports that while she buys hers at their shop in Frederick, Maryland, they accept orders online. “Try their pinot noir and apple pie chocolates — two of my favorites,” she said.

A box of chocolate, Sarris style. (Photograph courtesy Sarris Candies)
A box of chocolate, Sarris style. (Photograph courtesy Sarris Candies)

“Simply incredible.” That’s how one reader in Canada described Debauve et Gallais in Paris. “They may also be the oldest continuously operating chocolatier having been established in 1800.”

Kathleen in California says that when visiting San Francisco, “it won’t be a great loss to skip Ghirardelli, though the waterfront tour and sundaes are fun with kids.” Instead, she says, “try See’s and Guittard chocolates.” A reader named Leslie recommends TCHO, Dandelion Chocolate, and Recchiuti Confections in The City By the Bay. “All three are bean to bar,” she said. “Simply fabulous.”

Chris in Washington, D.C. writes: “Bernachon in Lyon, France should be on this list. A small bean-to-bar producer, family-owned for generations and very traditional, with an elegant and hospitable retail store and cafe. Impeccably smooth texture, glossy sheen, and crisp break, with fresh flavors that really pop from top-quality ingredients throughout.” New Yorker Mark Zaleski’s vote goes to Chocolatier Joël Durand, which, he reports, has a “small shop in in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence but now ships.”

Ahmet Aydogan in San Francisco writes: “Missing from the list are international award-winners such as Amedei [in Tuscany, Italy] and [French chocolatier] Michel Cluizel.”

Lin says that after traveling the world, her No. 1 choice for chocolate is Lauensteiner Confiserie in Ludwigsstadt, Germany. “I can not travel to Germany and not come home with 10+ boxes for family and friends,” she said. “And going to the factory and staying at the nearby castle make the perfect trip.” Lin also reports that the chocolate is sold in the Munich airport, so do as she does and “stock up when changing planes.”

Pennsylvania might be synonymous with Hershey when it comes to chocolate, but there are plenty of other gems in the state. Patricia Kita suggests Sarris Candies in Pennsylvania’s capital city, Harrisburg, while another reader recommends Éclat Chocolate, just outside Philadelphia in West Chester. Melissa, a resident of another Philly suburb, encouraged readers to come to her hometown of Lititz to try some Wilbur Buds: “They are so much better than Hershey’s Kisses.”