Food

What’s the Best Dark Chocolate? A Tournament!

Last week, I was charged with a task that can best be filed under “Nice Work If You Can Get It…”

Heading into the holiday season, as gift guides bombard us with images of artisanal, handmade chocolates that can cost a small fortune, we wanted to find out: What is the best chocolate bar most of us can just pick up around the corner? And it appeared that only an official Cup of Jo Taste Test, conducted by the four members of my house, was going to be the way to get to the bottom of it.

By chocolate, I of course mean dark chocolate (bars with a minimum of 60% cacao, most were in the 70% range) which meant that I automatically lost one of my testers, 17-year-old Abby, who once claimed “people who like dark chocolate are lying.” In her defense, I was exactly like her when I was a kid. It took me a long time to appreciate the complexity of dark chocolate, a journey that began when I asked a boyfriend in college, “Do you like Mounds or Almond Joy better?” and his response was, “There’s only one acceptable answer to that question.”

I ended up marrying that Mounds-loving snob, a union I’ve appreciated for many reasons through the years, but particularly so this past weekend, when I needed him to really drill down on things like the fruitiness, sweetness, texture, and finishes of nine dark chocolate bars procured from various local supermarkets. (As well as, somewhat randomly, Ikea.) Our other daughter, Phoebe, whose taste buds take after her father’s, and who has always loved punctuating a meal with a square or two, would be the other. Unlike previous taste tests where products were graded, I decided to up the excitement factor a bit and organize this one tournament-style. (Do I need to remind you that we are short on home entertainment these days?) There would be three rounds (plus one qualifying round) and in each round, two chocolates would be pitted against each other, with the winner advancing.

Lest you doubt the integrity of the process, allow me to present the official (redacted) tournament draw above. I was the only one who saw the draw because I would be the one supervising the blind tasting, taking notes while they nibbled. If they did not agree on which one should advance, I would be the tie-breaker. As with previous tests, all tasting was blind, and as we got further into the tournament and they knew which bars were advancing, they still didn’t know the order in which I was administering the bites, and which brand was pitted against which.

In addition to flavor, I asked them to consider texture (Did it snap loudly or quietly? Was it “a little chonky” as one scientifically noted on bars like the above) as well as mouthfeel (was it smooth or chalky?) and aftertaste (was it a good bitterness that lingered? Or one that had to “literally be chased down with grape tomatoes,” as Abby said after making a brief cameo to try Tony’s Chocoloney.)

The first round was fairly predictable. A brand called Lily’s — sweetened with Stevia — which I had never before heard of, kept showing up in the various supermarkets I visited so I picked it up out of curiosity. Pitted against top-seeded Valrhona, with Valrhona’s regal “hints of cherry” and “deep complexity,” though, Lily’s never really stood a chance. “Tastes like a Hershey’s kiss,” Phoebe declared before asking, “Are you sure this is dark chocolate?” (With only 55% cocoa content, one of the two lowest of the bunch, that is in fact debatable.) Ikea, similarly, lost to Tony’s, for being the bar with “not a whole lot going on.” Lindt’s 70% easily dispatched of Whole Foods 365 bar which recalled “advent calendar chocolate” for tasting “cheap and sweet.” And though there was some initial buzz around the hotly contested Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% vs. Trader Joe’s Organic 73% match-up — in the end, the Organic ended up defeating itself in undramatic fashion, due to its “medicinal” and “slight cough syrup” notes.

But history is written by the victors, so let’s let them tell next few stories here! Presenting, the final four:

For the first semi-final match-up: Valrhona vs. Tony’s

Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao ($3 for 3.5-ounce bar) “This one hits,” Andy said emphatically. “I just love the fruity brightness and the absolute lack of bitterness and clean aftertaste.” Phoebe was also a fan of its smooth fruitiness. “Love the texture.”

Tony’s Chocoloney 70% Dark Chocolate ($5 for 6.35-ounce bar) This one was “much less creamy.” And though Andy got a “light soapiness” from it, Phoebe appreciated the “stronger taste with a big personality.” They both noted that it was a little too chunky and the texture was kind of crumbly and didn’t dissolve in your mouth in the same way as its competitor. (If we were going on packaging, though, I think it would’ve taken home the Cup.)

Result: Both agreed that Valrhona would advance to the finals.

For the second: Trader Joe’s Swiss vs. Lindt

Trader Joe’s 72% Swiss Dark Chocolate ($2 for 3.5-ounce bar) This one inspired some delightful contemplation. “Mmmmmm,” came the first positive review from Phoebe. “Really well balanced, not sweet but not bitter” and “very rich and pleasant.” In terms of texture, “It has a nice snap to it,” said Andy, who overall favors a thinner bar, which helps make a bar “easier to eat.”

Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa ($3-$4 for 3.5-ounce bar) While they liked the hints of raspberry and appropriate thickness of the bar, that’s where the compliments ended, at least when matched up with Trader Joe’s. “A floral bomb in my opinion, and yet still thin tasting,” said Andy. Phoebe: “I’m not getting a lot of flavor or depth here and the light-ish color is off-putting.”

Result: In the end, it was a drubbing. Trader Joe’s would easily advance to the finals.

All the drama was reserved for the final round, Valrhona vs. Trader Joe’s. By this point, the cream had risen to the top, and though it was a tough call for both of my valiant testers, they were divided, leaving you-know-who to (finally!) contribute by breaking the tie…

The Winner: In the end, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that French-made Valrhona, with its blend of Trinitario and Criollo beans, and clean, fruity brightness was the one that won me over. (Also good to know: some quick research revealed it as a pastry chef favorite, due to its exceptional balance.) Some things are iconic for a reason.

What about you? What are your favorite dark chocolate bars?

P.S. More taste tests, including pancake mix.

  1. Faith says...

    Trader Joe’s Swiss dark with whold hazelnuts is my new addiction!
    Also try the dark chocolates with a sunflower butter filling!

  2. Soo good. Its really better experience about dark chocolate.

  3. Aimee says...

    I agree Valrhona is one of the best! I also like Scharffenberger- bittersweet- the one in the yellow wrapper.

  4. Gab says...

    I know Belgian chocolate is famous but I’ve never had better dark chocolate than in France. I loved those gorgeous chocolate French shops where your mouth starts watering only from the smell and the chocolate takes you to another world.
    Back to reality. I buy my chocolate from the local grocery shop and the best one I’ve found is Endangered Species Dark chocolate. They have a good variety but my personal favorites are caramel sea salt and hazelnut toffee.

    • Janine says...

      I looooooooooooooooooove Belgian chocolate. I think these are the absolute best, but I think they’re next to impossible to find in the US: https://eu.marcolini.com/en/

  5. Eva says...

    I read this post with interest and it’s funny because here in France, Valrhona is a great chocolate used by professional bakers and « chocolatiers » but impossible to find in a supermarket or grocery store!
    Anyway I am really not surprised it won !

  6. Kelly P says...

    I love dark chocolate, but I’m not at all snobby about it. I’m in the UK and I usually pick up the suuuuuuper cheap stuff (like .33p/bar) for everyday eating/baking and I like it just fine. However, if I’m looking for good flavor I really like Hotel Chocolate. It’s very smooth and not overly bitter.

  7. Amy says...

    I have five Lindt bars in my cupboard right now; I only eat dark chocolate and Lindt is my favourite (70%, 78%, chili, sea salt…). I’d be more than willing to pay more for their bars if they were committed to fair-trade.

    But after the comments prompted me to look a little deeper, I’ll be taste-testing my way through some of the fair-trade brands recommended. I’ve tried Alter Eco and Green & Blacks and they weren’t my favourite, but maybe it’s an acquired taste and I’ll get there.

    And yes, I will still enjoy those Lindt bars sitting in the cupboard (though it’ll be bittersweet in a different way). It’d be worse to have kids working hard for me to just throw their efforts in the garbage.

  8. Cathleen Diggle says...

    Come to Cornwall. An outstanding dark chocolate is made by Kernow.

    • Kelly P says...

      I recently moved to Cornwall! I will definitely have to try that chocolate ASAP.

  9. MuffyLoves says...

    I have a bit of a Dark chocolate addiction:
    Grenada Chocolate! Grenadachocolate.com
    Fabulous story, if you every have the opportunity do visit the island and the plantation.
    German chocolate is amazing too Lauenstein with Pistachio
    COMPARTES Old Hollywood is superb
    And…Cacao Sampaka is delicious

  10. Michelle says...

    This was such a fun read and I love all the strong opinions being expressed in the comments!

    • Marniep says...

      My sister used to send me Fine and Raw chocolate when she lived in Brooklyn and I think about it all the time. In Canada Purdy’s sea salt peanut butter chocolates are divine

  11. VICKY says...

    Not a dark chocolate snob although admit the good stuff really is better. E.g. Godiva. I like Purdy however nothing wrong with Cadbury Lindt or even Presidents Choice just has to be dark. Even semi sweet Bakers is fine.

  12. Anne says...

    Next time you have to add Chocolate & Love in your tasting!!!!
    https://chocolateandlove.com/
    The most flavourfull dark chocolate ever, after that your palate won´t be the same.

  13. Cadbury Bournville 60% Cocoa is my best dark chocolate bar. Not just because of it’s taste but the texture too is amazing. Although I have tasted Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa before, which is like over 3 years ago, I was young then and really didn’t like it because I was binging on Snickers – I do intend trying it again with the others dark chocolate you talked about. I also hope I enjoy the Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao when I try it.

  14. Brigham says...

    I’m a bonafide chocolate snob. I did my Master’s project on chocolate. I will acknowledge my bias straight out but must tell you that the best chocolate ever comes from Amano Artisan Chocolate. My most favorite is the Dos Rios. I’m telling you, your chocolate world will be elevated after eating this chocolate. The raspberry Rose is also amazing.
    I love Theo, Valrhona, Cluizel, and many others. Love the blog

    • Yes! This stuff is incredible.

  15. Caitlin says...

    Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups y’all 👌

  16. Lisa says...

    The best dark chocolate is milk chocolate. (Yes, I am 5 year old. Ha!)

  17. Loren says...

    I love Scharffenberger 62%.

  18. Pailey says...

    Dandelion Chocolate all the way! I may be biased since I live around the corner from their flagship store, but their chocolate is hands down my favorite. :)

    Their cocoa is ethically sourced (they work directly with smallholder cocoa farmers who practice sustainable agriculture around the world). The single origin chocolate bars just contain two ingredients – cocoa and sugar. The company is bean-to-bar (they make the chocolate in the Mission, SF). And you can really taste the flavor differences from the cocoa grown in different farms across the different chocolate bars! My favorite is the Costa Esmeraldas (https://store.dandelionchocolate.com/products/costa-esmeraldas-ecuador-70-2018-harvest-single-origin-chocolate-bar) which tastes rich and fudge-y, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the bars.

    And they offer free domestic shipping in the US with a minimum purchase of $25. And their bars are wrapped in the most beautiful handmade paper. I promise I don’t get paid by them, I just really like them haha.

    Last note – if you’re ever in SF once things (hopefully) return to normal, would highly recommend visiting their factory for a factory tour!

    • PB says...

      Here to second Dandelion! They really do make amazing chocolate, and have good ethics to boot!

    • valine says...

      YES I AGREE!

  19. evelyn rodd says...

    Nothing less than 90% is dark to me.

  20. Sylvie says...

    So interesting. My family is Swiss so I’ve had a lot of chocolate in my life and my palate does not agree with TJ’s chocolate buyer. I’m surprised so many people like it!

  21. Linh says...

    Coming from a house that always has at least 1 but usually more dark chocolate bars sitting around. Our top is Trader Joe’s “the dark chocolate lovers chocolate bar” 85% cacao.

    Newly trying a Hawaiian chocolate that’s been good too!
    https://manoachocolate.com/collections/chocolate-bars/Best-Selling

  22. James Lester says...

    Pacari…Ecuador…home of Cocoa

    • Ravi says...

      Soconuzco, the real home of “good” chocolate. Original cocoa beans have been growing for millennia from all over the Amazon and up north to Mexico. Now, thanks to colonial exploitation, all over the tropical world. Each of these new “terroirs” have imparted a new flavor profile, different from the original source! Ecuador is only very small part of it! Have you tried Alto Beni from Bolivia, Porcelana from Piura, Peru, Chuao from Venezuela, etc, etc or wild cocoa beans from Purus in the Peruvian/Brazilian Amazon?
      I have samples from all these places and more!
      I make pure organic grand cru dark chocolate!

  23. doris says...

    Team Abby all the way!!!!

  24. Emily says...

    oh no! all results immediately invalidated if the judge prefers mounds to almond joy?!

    but- thank you for a fun family activity idea!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

    • BeeGee says...

      Try Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate out of Eureka CA. A number of single sourced options as well as unique and interesting flavor combinations. Worth the splurge. https://dicktaylorchocolate.com/

  25. s says...

    it’s hard to find a dark chocolate that is NOT fruity – I only like nutty notes. Any rec’s from anyone? thanks!

    • Connie says...

      I’m with you S! If I hear fruity in the description of dark choc or coffee, I’m immediately put off. Would also love recommendations!

  26. Maywyn says...

    Lake Champlain Chocolates dark mint chocolate coin is my favorite. Bias aside, after trying several brands, their chocolates always win.

    • HH says...

      Yes! I worked at a natural history museum a while back and we hosted the Chocolate exhibition from the Field Museum. Not only did the entire museum smell like chocolate (they piped the scent through the gallery) but our shop offered all sorts of specialty chocolates at the same time. Lake Champlain’s dark mint was a favorite of mine, too. But their “spicy Aztec” chocolate inspired spontaneous poetry in its honor.

      Now I have to go find some dark chocolate. Immediately.

  27. Christine says...

    The Trader Joe’s Uganda 85% dark chocolate bar is amazing with great fruity undertones.

  28. Bec says...

    Oh gosh! How could you have excluded Trader Joe’s ‘The Dark Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Bar’??? (85%)
    Hands down the best dark chocolate bar – all my dark chocolate loving family agree, and as a milk chocolate person, the ONLY dark chocolate that will pass through my lips.

    • HeidiC says...

      I stock up in this every time I go to Trader Joe’s! It’s my absolute favorite and reasonably priced. Love!!

  29. Christine says...

    Being married to a Beligian and chocolate snob, hands down: Côte d’Or! I also believe most of their chocolate is part of Rainforest Alliance.
    If you can find it in the US, it’s seriously amazing chocolate

    • SK says...

      The Belgian Chocolate House is the place to go for, you guessed it, Belgian chocolate! But if you want a treat, do see if Pierre Marcolini ships to where you live.

    • Ella says...

      My mom is Belgian and she hoards Côte d’Or. I remember traveling back from Belgium with duffle bags of it.

    • Christina says...

      oooo, Christine, thanks for the hot tip! I was able to find Cote d’Or at World Market – just placed a pickup order :)

    • Annelies says...

      Yes! A Belgian here and lover of dark chocolate. Côte d’Or truly is THE best !

  30. Andrea Bayona says...

    My two favorites are : Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Organic 72 % Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar (smooth, berry notes, lovely snap) and Alter Eco’s Dark Quinoa (a grown up Nestle Crunch bar!).

  31. Gwynne says...

    As a dark chocolate connoisseur (who lives in Switzerland) this was FASCINATING. I agree about Tony’s – want to love it but I can’t. Their milk chocolate varieties are so much better for some reason.

    As one might expect, I’m a Lindt girl, but 78% cocoa is the best bar in my opinion. So creamy!

    • SK says...

      Oh but if you are in Switzerland it has to be Lindt’s sister company Sprüngli!

    • Annie says...

      I 100% agree and will tell anyone who will listen! 78% is the superior bar

  32. Anya says...

    Fruition
    Guittard
    Dandeloin
    Maranon
    Goodnow and LetterPress

  33. Andie says...

    I must be the only weirdo on the planet who doesn’t like eating chocolate bars — I prefer my chocolate in the form of cakes, tarts, cookies, ice cream, pastries, etc, anything but the actual bar. Conversely, one of my colleagues is the opposite of me — he will only eat chocolate bars but nothing else chocolate flavored. We’re a couple of odd ducks, lol!

    While I don’t eat chocolate bars, I *do* buy them for baking. It’s not the most budget-friendly endeavor (Lindt 90% dark chocolate goes for close to 20 bucks in local currency where I live!), I reserve the best bars for top grade chocolate chunk cookies for the people I love best. I recently decided to only bake chocolate chip cookies with chunks from chocolate bars from now on and it has upped my baking game 3000%. No regrets!

  34. Katy says...

    I discovered Alter Eco during the pandemic. I stock up now and my nightly ritual is licorice tea (Traditional Medicinals) and Alter Eco dark chocolate.

    • Shay says...

      100% Alter Eco is the best! Their truffles are also amazing!

    • Erika says...

      Have you tried Alter Eco’s Brown Butter bar? It is the stuff of dreams.

  35. Laura says...

    The Tony’s dark choc w pretzel and toffee bar though!!!!

    • YES, agree, those are so good!

  36. Maria says...

    Ohhh – you haven’t tasted good chocolate until you have tasted Fazer’s, is my humble opinion. Their milk chocolate is amazing!! Their dark chocolate is also very good but Marabou’s dark chocolate is sliiightly better. (Marabou’s milk chocolate is a little too sweet though).

  37. Sarah Blumenfeld says...

    No comparison. Green and Black’s 85% dark chocolate. It’s the best

  38. Hannah says...

    Shout out to Whittaker’s chocolate in NZ!!! My fav is the dark choc and almonds… gosh it’s the best

    • Hoiho says...

      As a fellow New Zealander, I have to agree. I like Lindt but Whittakers has the best flavours.

    • Sarah says...

      Whitakers is awesome! I work near the factory, and if the wind blows the right way on certain days you can smell chocolate in the air!

    • Emma says...

      The peanut one is amazing, too! For darker chocolate, I like Lindt 78 percent.

  39. Robin says...

    TAZO Wicked Dark! Made in Somerville, MA, this choc is 95% (!) and reminiscent of gritty coffee beans.
    There’s no substitute when you want a dark hit. I hope they make it forever.

  40. Meg says...

    You guys should do an egg nog taste test! There are SO many different kinds, and that taste test would be epic.

    • KJ says...

      I second this and I’m not even a nog person!

    • Justine says...

      Yes, more taste tests please! I love these posts!

  41. Bonnie says...

    Not sure if it’s “the absolute best” or not, but for nostalgia’s sake, how about Goldenberg’s? Dark chocolate with tightly-packed peanuts…a very firm and chewy candy bar. My grandparents always had mini Goldenberg’s in the cupboard–they were such a treat. The packaging has changed a bit so their ‘Peanut Chews’ name is more prominent than the brand, but I bet they’re the same…now to find them again!

  42. Erin says...

    My favorite is probably Francois Pralus. Hot tip: around Christmas, Trader Joe’s carries a “chocolate passport” set of single origin bars and I’m positive they’re Pralus, based on the texture and origins of the bars (they’re insanely smooth and creamy for dark chocolate). Definitely snatch up a box if you find it!

    Other wonderful bean-to-bar chocolate companies are Askinosie, Map Chocolate, Cloudforest, Marou, and Akesson’s Organic. These small makers are ethical and transparent in the way their chocolate is sourced and produced.

    • therese says...

      I’m obsessed with the Trader Joe’s Passport bars. I will have to check out Francois Pralus since that is my taste preference. TJ’s does get some go sources so maybe it’s true.
      I love the Valrhona bar but prefer the 83% as it is less sweet more chocolate.

  43. DawnS says...

    Equal Exchange 80%!

  44. Emily LL says...

    My goodness, I thought you guys would never ask.

    I love:
    Lindt 78%.
    Alter Eco Brown Butter chocolate bar 70%
    Alter Eco Burnt Caramel chocolate bar 70%
    Alter Eco Superdark Mint Blackout bar 90%
    And I just discovered Caffarel Torino Gionduio 1865 Dark Intense blend of chocolate and hazelnuts bar. It is a super smooth and silky bar that tastes like bitter Nutella, which is perfect since I like Nutella, but it’s way too sweet. Please don’t think I’m fancy after reading that name. I found it at Homegoods and bought every bar they had (which was only 4).

    I’ve tried Valhrona and Guittard and several other random bars from Trader Joe’s mostly, but my favorites are above.

    An honorable mention goes to Lindt 70% truffles–not a bar but a definite godsend. Should they make an 80% truffle? To that I say, “Yes!”

  45. Beth says...

    Jacques Torres- house dark!!

  46. Julie says...

    Hi Cup of Jo team,
    I agree with some of the other commenters re:child labor and unethical production practices. I honestly didn’t know much at all about the chocolate industry until I started reading the comments and doing a little research. I love this website and hope you look at this post as an opportunity to grow. Of course, we can’t be perfect all the time but I appreciate that it seems like your team tries their best to do their best. Perhaps now we can all try to do better (and who wouldn’t like a chocolate taste-yesterday round two anyway???).
    Xoxo

  47. Carly says...

    Tip: the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt has significantly improved my microwave s’more game.

  48. Anna says...

    This reminds me of early on in the pandemic when my roommates and I set up a mug bracket to decide on the best mugs in the house. It was a hotly contested tournament!

  49. Alison says...

    I really love Askinosie chocolate bars. I discovered them when I moved to Kansas City years ago and they’re produced here in our state just a few hours away. They have a very clear segment on their site about direct trade, transparency with farmers, profit sharing for those workers, etc for those commenting about chocolate ethics who might be interested in switching brands and might want to support a smaller biz.

    https://askinosie.com/learn/direct-trade

  50. Sandt says...

    Who makes TJ chocolate though? They have brands package their own with TJ wrapping—maybe you chose the same chocolate!

    Imma go buy chocolate now…

  51. Meg says...

    Until like yesterday I had NO IDEA my chocolate was so dirty. Cocoa plantations with slave and child labor?! Yay! For Tony’s!

  52. Hali says...

    I am reading this post in a 34-week standard prenatal checkup that turned into an hour long fetal heart rate monitoring session… normally I’d be stressed over the need to monitor, but instead I find myself smiling about how familiar I am with all these chocolates and how cozy this post is. My mom has me ship boxes of that Trader Joe’s Swiss Chocolate to Hawaii every few months because they don’t have TJs out there and she can’t live without it! One time, all our local Trader Joe’s were all out of stock so I sent her a smattering of other TJ options and of course pulled a few back for me to sample too. I’m now addicted to their newish Uganda dark chocolate bars. A few squares with tea after dinner… mmm there’s nothing like it.

    And, in sublime timing, a nurse came in as I started thumb-typing this comment on my phone with a golden ghirardelli chocolate caramel square to munch on to try and wake this sleeping babe up! It worked!

    Squares of chocolate- such Rx for the spirit!

  53. Michelle says...

    If anyone is Canadian, Chocosol in Toronto makes fantastic chocolate and is ethically sourced :) You can also order in person or online and they’re found in quite a few local stores (and farmer’s markets when those existed)
    https://chocosoltraders.com

    • Melissa says...

      Love Chocosol!! ❤️

  54. Lisa says...

    Hu
    Dandelion
    Lagusta’s Luscious
    RAD
    TCHO
    Taza
    Endorfin
    ** guilty pleasures that are not so guilty bc of high-quality ingredients, fair trade, and vegan options
    ** significant upgrade from mainstream brands :-)

    • Cynthia Miller says...

      Thanks- Fair Trade is an important element of a chocolate bar. I won’t buy most of the ones in the taste off.

  55. Elizabeth says...

    Lindt 90% is my go to. Absolute best dark chocolate bar I’ve had. And not the 85, which is too fruity for my taste! The 99% Is also good, but you’ve gotta be in the mood for that one.
    For anyone looking to try very dark chocolate, I would suggest working up to it — start with 70% and move up percentages from there

    • danielle says...

      agree 100% :). i actually think it tastes like a room temperature jello pudding pop (dating myself, here), but in the best way possible.

    • H says...

      I came here to comment that we have a huge box of Lindt 90% we don’t know what to do with!!! Haha! My mom accidentally ordered the wrong kind…. then I saw your comment that that’s your fav! If you live in the US DM me and I’ll send them to you haha :P (instagram is perth5738)

  56. Kristine says...

    Tony’s Chocoloney 70% dark with sea salt and almonds. Fight me!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Agreed

    • Ann says...

      This bar is super delicious but the plain Tony’s 70 dark is weird. I don’t know why. They are like my favorite (sea salt and almond) and least favorite (70 dark) chocolate bars.

    • Sophie says...

      Came down solely to comment that this was my favorite too- glad to see I’m in good company!

  57. dori says...

    Icelandic, for sure!

  58. Eli says...

    Please discuss the sustainability of any chocolate that does not use slave wages and labor! If it doesn’t mention it on the packaging like the Tonys one does, it is not sustainable.

  59. Antje says...

    I used to live 45 minutes from the Ritter Sport factory! My kids did a “chocolate workshop” there once; they got to make their own chocolate. Huge hit!

    • Kyla says...

      Ritter Sport is my weakness – I got their Advent calendar this year and it’s making me so happy

  60. Turtle says...

    I’m almost afraid to share the source for the most delicious chocolates I’ve ever eaten. I’m imagining a massive run on their bars, chocolate nut spreads, honeycomb, and truffles, leaving me chocolateless. In the spirit of the season, though, I’ll share. Condor Chocolates is the love child of two brothers (is it weird for brothers to have a love child?) who make amazing chocolates, with cacao sourced in Ecuador, so it’s child-labor free. Here you go: https://www.condorchocolates.com/shop Enjoy shopping and please leave a little for me! And, no, I’m not affiliated with their shop in any way, other than being a loyal customer via our local CSA.

    • Carrington says...

      Love Condor! Live in GA so they’re around :)

  61. Shannon Bennett says...

    Mm, Esmereldas, an Ecuadorian chocolate from Goodnow farms. On top of being the only chocolate I have ever savored vs devoured in a mad blackout craving haze, its a sweet local to me company with ethical sourcing and transparency and packaging reminds me of wonka bars :) its tough but worthwhile to look for as many wins a product has within what my dollar can stretch to and this is an affordable to me sweet indulgence to give and get.

  62. Mullica says...

    I’m not very familiar with Valrhona but I am kinda disappointed that Cadbury is not on this list. Don’t tell me you can’t go into the drugstore and only find Cadbury bars.

    • angel says...

      It’s because only Cadbury UK – or Europe – is good. The US one is different and not as good.

    • K says...

      Are you a US citizen? If so, where are you buying Cadbury? It’s very uncommon in the US in my experience . I think Hershey owns the rights and does not sell things under the Cadbury label. It’s common in Canada, but I grew up 30 miles from the border and had it often as a kid due to proximity.

    • Liv says...

      Cadbury’s is awful in the US. I was excited when I moved here to see the brand everywhere but it tasted nothing like the UK choc. I think the US taste pallette is just different, but I’ve been cured of my sweet tooth!! Otherwise I agree with you, Cadbury’s Bourneville Dark all the way!

  63. Karina says...

    Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Chilli or Sea salt. It’s the best.

    • Missy says...

      How is no one mentioning chocolove? My favorite all the way, and they have so many great flavors like almonds and sea salt, cherry/almond, and orange peel.

    • jane says...

      Chocolove has too much lecithin in it and I can’t get past that mouthfeel/taste.

  64. Lynn Lombardo says...

    Would like to know which sugar free chocolates win!!

    • Jessica says...

      I’m so sorry Lynn, but a sugar free chocolate, by its very nature, can never truly “win.” ; )

    • jane says...

      Do your research here in the comments – I believe someone said Montezuma’s Black 100 is the best but try it out.

  65. Lisa says...

    Endangered Species Strong and Velvety 88%. Hands down. I have two or three squares after dinner every night. My kiddos refer to it as “mommy chocolate” :)

    • Lindsey says...

      Yes! With the panther on the package!

      Also Ghiradelli 86% is an acceptable substitute.

    • Pamela says...

      Yes Lisa, the BEST.

      Also, Joanna, ever since you had a gift guide for “your wife who eats all the chocolate and reads in bed” I refer to myself that way at home : )

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahaha love that, Pamela!

    • Jessica says...

      Small business chocolatier here, who recently, ironically, found herself (1) bored, (2) with random amounts of leftover dark chocolate, and (3) feeling creative. I think my personal favorite right now is Guittard 74% dark chocolate with too much sea salt and cinnamon, but I love Endangered Species – so far I’ve not had a bad bar from them yet!

  66. Wendy Fairchild says...

    Lindnt dark chocolate with hazelnuts- unbeatable

  67. Irina Vodonos says...

    Theo Chocolate 85% plain chocolate bar. Took me a while to get used to the slightly more acidic taste of Theo but now I love it. No other chocolate hits the spot quite like this one. And, it’s an organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar business!

    • Kayleen says...

      I gotta agree. Theo is my go-to!

    • Lisa says...

      Yes, Theo!!

    • Sarah says...

      Totally. Theo actually makes their own bars while most of these buy in bulk and melt it down to make theirs.

    • Kelsi says...

      yep to Theo! I’m partial since it’s a hometown favorite in Washington state, but they make truly delicious chocolate. Their factory tour in Seattle is also great fun.

    • Kristine says...

      I live down the street from the little Theo’s factory. Smells so good!

    • Megan says...

      THEO!!! It wins every time. (Although we did not like their gingerbread chocolate this year, the nutcracker brittle was excellent!)

    • Lisa says...

      THEEEEOOOOO!!

      I seriously buy a whole year’s worth of their 70% bars when Fred Meyer has their annual $2/bar sale. I’m not going to tell you guys how many bars that amounted to this year….it was not an insignificant amount.

    • Nicole says...

      Theo is amazing! Toured the factory too in Seattle- such a great smell…can’t imagine living in the neighborhood….

    • Katie says...

      Yup – as a former Seattleite, it’s always Theo’s for me. Ethically made and so good. And agree about the factory tour – a must if you’re visiting Seattle.

  68. Dienesa says...

    This is such a fun post! And as always, the comments are equally amazing. I love reading everyone’s strong chocolate opinions and now have a million tabs open with different chocolate brands – ha!

  69. Nathalie says...

    When I went vegan for a bit I retrained my taste buds to like dark chocolate better than milk and now my favourite affordable bar is Ritter Sport 61% or 74%. It has only three ingredients and it’s available everywhere (here in Germany at least).
    My husband and I went on a weekend getaway to Liege, Belgium (pre-Covid) and ended up in a B&B next to the Galler factory. That was some amazing chocolate!

  70. Sylvie says...

    Cup of Jo, I am confused. It has been really refreshing & encouraging to see your blog take such a strong stand on so many issues, it feels like you’re being responsible, doing your best, and really working at it…but then it all falls apart when you promote (seemingly without being aware) chocolate that has big human rights problems, royal families with big human rights problems, other bloggers who have been called out for racism and not changed their ways. And more, this is just what I have seen recently. I am wondering if you can clarify your position, maybe with your staff and as you plan posts going forward – how much do human rights and anti-racism really matter to you? Are they just topics, and then we can all take our light-hearted break to support lovely fluff? If anti-racism is to really be done, it must be done thoroughly, completely, from the ground up, and in everything. It will take more work, as one comment noted, to do the research and be aware. But this is how the change will happen. If we keep letting ourselves off the hook for one fun post or one fun purchase…the harmful cycles continue.

    • Kelsi says...

      Though the OP does not talk about it, many boutique chocolatiers are very transparent with their growing/farming practices.

      http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ethical-chocolate-companies

      Labeling and research is important. You can still buy chocolate without supporting conflict/child labor. Lots of folks in the comments mentioning several of these companies.

      You can also buy single source chocolate made in the USA (Hawaii) – there aren’t a TON, but we grow chocolate here in Hawaii and a few companies throughout the state are bean-to-bar and can be ordered online.

      https://www.hawaiimagazine.com/content/where-find-hawaii-chocolate

    • Hilary says...

      While I appreciate the effort to keep Cup of Jo accountable on social issues, it is such a high bar for them to be perfect on everything. I read tons of blogs and it feels like Cup of Jo is one of the few that has been actually doing the work – WAY prior to the recent racial justice movement – in a real and authentic way. I don’t know that Cup of Jo’s sole mission is to be a racial justice organization. I think if you’re looking for conversations about that and only that, this isn’t necessarily the blog. There is pain and injustice involved with almost every single topic imaginable. Is it the expectation that every single post and every single conversation on every single blog will delve into those topics? And I think you can add the conversation by linking to fact-based articles vs. telling Cup of Jo that they’re falling apart when they don’t mention them.

      Hear me when I say it’s a huge priority for me personally, having lain on the ground this summer alongside my eight year-old to protest George Floyd’s murder. I just hate when we go after the people who are trying really hard and hold them to an impossible standard.

    • Alex says...

      I’m grateful to Sylvia for this education. I’m going to do better thanks to her.

    • Sequoia says...

      Hi Sylie,
      Thanks for sharing this information. I am a fairly informed reader and I use a CSA, shop farmers markets, sustainably sourced, fair trade and the like. However, it was your comment that alerted me to issues surrounding chocolate. Again, thank you, and I will change my buying accordingly. I do want to stress that not everybody knows everything and there is a way to share without shame, ESPECIALLY here at COJ. I almost didn’t read the comment because of the tone and I don’t come here for that type of interaction but I had enough steam left to read it and I learned something. I imagine many others didn’t. Food for thought.

    • C says...

      Thank you Sylvie, I agree and I do not think it’s too much to consider all of what is put out there. Our words and actions have power and that is so cool! Imagine, if we all thought more about what we bought, etc from the standpoint of empowering others and ourselves to act in the best of interest of everyone as much as we possibly can. I’ve never thought of being thoughtful as limiting but rather as an awesome & exciting challenge!
      To that end I love:
      Theo
      Alter Eco, Quinoa Crunch

    • Joey says...

      Knowing the backstory to every product that is produced and sold across the globe is a bar I can’t meet. I’m okay with people doing the best they can, noting, in this instance, they are running a business, not a country.

      Perhaps it is a cultural difference. These are global issues, certainly, but I don’t wonder if Americans feel it is their responsibility to prove to themselves and the world that they are not what we see on the news. We don’t judge you all from the actions of a few, or even the actions of many. You don’t need to be perfect. Just be human. And be okay with others being human.

    • Lili says...

      I agree with Hilary, while it is important we are aware of social injustice linked with the production of chocolate, sometimes I also feel we judge Cup of Jo too harshly…

    • nora says...

      I 100% agree and was also feeling angry and disappointed reading this post. It’s not too much to ask for COJ to seriously consider these questions. Thank you, Sylvie.
      Recommending Green & Black — it’s affordable, delicious, and fair trade and ethically-sourced certified. https://us.greenandblacks.com/

  71. Yelena says...

    Trader Joe’s just introduced a new dark chocolate bar with pieces of salty plantains interspersed throughout. So so good!

  72. Lynn says...

    Dandelion chocolate hands DOWN!

    Best bean to bar chocolate; beautiful stores in SF!

    • miranda says...

      I second Dandelion! Especially their madagascar bar!

    • Jess. says...

      Must be something about Madagascar beans. Amano Chocolate has a Madagascar bar (I think they only do single-origin) that is mind blowing.
      (Three cheers for fair trade chocolate!) xox

  73. Alison says...

    Lake Champlain chocolates are the best (though it is not dark chocolate, the peanut five star bar is my most favorite EVER!).

    • Jess says...

      Second Lake Champlain Chocolates! And they are a B Corp!

  74. Amanda says...

    Gotta plug a few of my favorites that weren’t tested: Green & Black’s, Endangered Species, and the cheap-but-reliable Aldi’s Moser Roth (70% is probably the most universal, but I like the darker one when I’m feeling bitter).

    • Alannah says...

      Are you Australian Amanda? Totally agree re: Moser Roth – gosh Aldi is good!!
      Also a shout out to Old Gold dark chocolate varieties here in Australia. Plain or rum and raisin ooooooooh yeh!

    • Debbie says...

      i agree on the Moser Roth – especially love the caramel sea salt bar.

    • Amanda says...

      @Alannah – nope I’m in the US but we have Aldi here!

      Though with how things are going in the US right now, I WISH I was Australian sometimes :)

  75. Ariel says...

    If you can get it, Whittaker’s dark chocolate from New Zealand is the absolute best. I like the 76%, but they have bars all the way up to 90%!

    I ordered a bunch of chocolate for my boyfriend for his birthday from KiwiCornerDairy.com. The shipping was a fortune – chocolate is heavy! – but totally worth it. He’s been eating chocolate for breakfast for weeks. :)

    • Kaitlin J says...

      Ariel- kudos to you for shouting out kiwicornerdairy.com – it’s just what I’ve been looking for! My husband and I hiked the Te Araroa trail (their version of Appalachian/PCT) and have been missing certain candies and groceries that have such sweet memories associated with our time on the trail. I can’t wait to stock up!! Thank you thank you!

    • Hilary says...

      Whittaker’s 92% is fantastic! We used to eat Lindt 90%, but the Whittaker’s has a lot more flavour.

  76. Sonja says...

    Hu Chocolate is my very, very favorite. It’s about $1M/bar but since my little nursing lady can’t handle dairy I started to explore new chocolates and Holy Hu – so amazing. The cashew butter one is stupid good.

    • JL says...

      Hu Kitchen Chocolate all the way. It is my absolute fave, and I’ve tried many!!

  77. JLW says...

    Regarding Lily’s….there’s many other darker varieties, including 85% and 92%. Right now I like the 70% extra dark and the 70% extra dark with salted almond…and per the company’s website, it’s “No Sugar Added; Botanically Sweetened with Stevia; Fair Trade Certified; Non-GMO Verified; Gluten Free.’

    • Crystal says...

      Right! I actually really like Lily’s when I’m not eating regular sugar! They have some good bars!

  78. Ellen says...

    The Lindt bar is excellent for s’mores! It’s thinness helps it melt from the heat of the marshmallow.

    • Rasheeda Ali says...

      Omg YES!!!! I love the Lindt dark chocolate on s’mores. I make them in my toaster oven a few times a month! Yummmmm.

    • Allison says...

      Omg this is so smart. S’mores are always cloyingly sweet yet I’d never considered NOT using the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars!

    • Maryn says...

      Wait… Dark chocolate on s’mores. I’m with Allison—why hadn’t I thought of this before?!

    • We use Aldi Moser Roth chocolate for smores — it’s also super thin, and if you use the dark chocolate with orange, the smores taste like a high-end dessert.

  79. Adriana Arellano Albuja says...

    As an Ecuadorian I must let you know, Ecuadorian chocolate is THE BEST in the world (we produce the best cacao, and of course, brands all over the world buy the cacao from us) https://www.metropolitan-touring.com/best-chocolate-in-the-world/. Ecuador has had a recent boom in local chocolate production. You should try some ecuadorian brands: toak chocolate (they have the most expensive chocolate in the world), pacari, kallari, república del cacao… hmmm love chocolate!

    • Dawn says...

      Excuse me while I try to find Ecuadorian chocolate online!

    • Helen says...

      I was in Ecuador in February and fell in love with the chocolate there. Pacari ended up being my favorite and wished I brought a whole case of bars home with me because it is so cheap there! It was only $3 a bar at the grocery store and I love that it’s a fair trade company. It has won many awards and I know you won’t be disappointed if you give them a try!

      For chocolate that can be easily found in the States, I love Endangered Species.

  80. Mallory says...

    I spent years of disordered eating and dieting, and part of that was convincing myself I prefer dark chocolate (at times sugar free, dairy free chocolate. Dark times!). I’ve been working on healing my relationship with food, and in that process I’ve recently allowed myself to rediscover milk chocolate. And I’ve gotta say, I agree with your 17 year old now! Tony Chocolonely’s Milk Chocolate is getting me through 2020.

    • Amanda says...

      I was gonna say that I think Tony Chocoloney really shines as a brand when it comes to their milk chocolate. I DO love dark chocolate, but I also love a delicious creamy milk chocolate.

      I also love the (unintentional?) rename to Tony Chocolonely, which feels very appropriate for 2020.

    • Janet says...

      Hugs to you, fellow recovering disordered eating person. Recently, I ate a Freaky Health Chocolate bar and it was garbage. And I was glad to be able to say, “I don’t care how healthy this is, I do not recognize it as chocolate, it is … clay-like in flavor?”

    • Rebekah says...

      @Amanda – It’s actually Chocolonely! (personally, it makes sense to me to rhyme and I almost always say Tony’s Chocoloney…)

    • shannon says...

      YES Tony’s is such a delight! Their milk chocolate with sea salt and caramel is not only my favorite chocolate but my favorite candy, period. And it’s now sold at sprouts and world market! Love that it’s getting easier to find, it used to only be in specialty import stores which was of course $$$$. If you ever have a chance to visit their shop in Amsterdam, DO. It’s so fun, you can sample all the flavors and their display makes you feel like you’re in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

    • Mallory says...

      Thank you Janet, and hugs right back! It’s been a very illuminating (and scary, frustrating, empowering, awesome etc) process.

      Totally agree that Tony Chocolonely is a very appropriate name for this year!!

    • AL says...

      Same here, girl. I’ve found that eating your favorite, amazing quality treats is so much more rewarding than having something mediocre. And so much more satisfying in small quantities once you get over the hump of recovery!

    • Crystal says...

      I love your comment! Way to go!

  81. Agnès says...

    I am french and a total dark chocolat addict and I had never heard of that company; I suppose it’s more for the culinary world or export… Favourite chocolate EVER is from maison Cazenave, in Bayonne. It’s really something. One square is enough, it is so creamy, fruity, tasty, not bitter. The package is beautiful, and the shop is like a jewelry shop, and it’s not even expensive. It’s a small company and I love that they only export 5% of their production (to Japan only!). Not easy to get though, you have to go to Bayonne to buy it. I have it once a year or so… sigh.

    • Agnès says...

      Oh my gosh best news of the year. I recommend the white package and also the blue one. I am so excited thanks Sk

    • Claire says...

      ok, I am googling “Bayonne” and this is a sign from the universe that I need to hurry up and go visit France. (SK- I see your link -yum! thanks!)

    • SK says...

      Happy to have helped make you happy!

      Calling all other Europeans out there – any other chocolate recommendations? For me, the Belgians do dark chocolate best while the Swiss excel at milk chocolate. But here we focus on dark! If you have the opportunity to try chocolate from Pierre Marcolini don’t hesitate – it is the best! A colleague once gave me a collection of single origin dark tablets ranging from 70% to 100% cacao all made by a friend of his from high school who decided to follow his passion and make chocolate. He did everything himself starting with sourcing the beans. One of the best Christmas presents I have ever received!
      https://eu.marcolini.com/en/

  82. Lindsay says...

    Green&Blacks chocolate bar of any kind! They’re all delicious 👌🏻

  83. Sheila says...

    About 2 years ago I cut out chocolate during an Elimination Diet prescribed by my doctor and, after trying it again only to have an intense migraine soon after, haven’t had a single taste of chocolate since. Fortunately I don’t often miss it (although a few times each year I have a dream that I’m eating a many-layered chocolate cake — seriously!), but this post reminded me that chocolate and the holidays went hand-in-hand when I was a kid 😫 Oh, well. I’d rather be migraine-free. I’ll probably have one of those cake-eating dreams tonight!

    • Cynthia Miller says...

      I am very careful when I eat chocolate. I try to avoid it if I feel at all migrainey. I don’t eat it often because of this.

  84. Meg says...

    Godiva solid dark chocolate… the ones with the gold wrapper that come 4 squares to a bar. They’re thicker than the Lindt squares. A bit of a splurge but one square after lunch is all I need!

  85. katie says...

    I’m a chocolate fiend. Been happiest with Alter Eco Organic Chocolate Bar, Deep Dark Salted Brown Butter (70% Cocoa). YUM. This is what you hide in your drawer for your own delight.
    I also like having TJ’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus on hand.

    • Amanda says...

      I was hoping I’d see another Alter Eco fan in the comments! The brown butter dark is divine, and I love the puffed quinoa bar!

    • NM says...

      I second both of these recs!!

    • K says...

      Yes!! Alter Eco burnt caramel is my absolute favorite.

    • Cait says...

      This is what I came to the comments to recommend! The brown butter is to die for, so rich and with a lovely additional flavor without being ‘flavored.’
      I also was thinking that including Lily’s in the competition is a little unfair -it could never compare, but for those who have to watch sugar intake and such, it can be a lifesaver. I do find their chocolate to be way too salty sometimes – not just ‘salted.’

  86. Diane says...

    My favorite is Trader Joe’s in the little round tin. Dark chocolate pre-cut into wedges. Two wedges after dinner keep me satisfied!

  87. Jessica says...

    We are firmly a Tony’s family.
    Valrhona is too smooth, in my opinion – it melts away too quickly for lingering enjoyment. Whereas the toothsome quality of Tony’s makes one big “ChonK” a whole experience – you chew, then it melts, then it lingers with that big taste. I end up eating less of it, and that’s not a bad thing in my mind.
    Also, the child-labor-free thing is a big plus.

  88. Sadie says...

    No, no, no … the best by far is Ghirardelli’s 60% baking bar., which can be obtained easily and inexpensively at just about any grocery. (Note … not the “eating” bar, as that has a totally different feel.)

    • Erin says...

      We also often buy Ghirardelli baking bars :)

    • Lindsey says...

      The Ghiradelli 60% baking chips are also delish!

  89. Sophia F. says...

    Team Abby here (my husband still won’t let me forget the time I told him that I think people who say they like dark chocolate are just masochists). I vote for a repeat with milk chocolate!

    • Meredith says...

      Seconded!

    • Erica says...

      Not totally a chocolate bar, but I must mention Honey Mama’s!! They are cocoa bars, sweetened with honey, and are out of this world!!

    • Brooke says...

      Erica- yes!! Honey mommas bars. Made here in portland and have to be kept in the fridge. So so good!

    • Crystal says...

      Oh my gosh, thank you for mentioning honey mamas! I feel awful when I eat regular sugar so I am extremely excited to try this!

  90. Rachael Schiffman says...

    I used to be a dark chocolate only person but I have learned to appreciate a good quality milk chocolate as well. Both of my children are chocolate lovers, too. I love the Chocolove brand, which I believe is fair trade and widely available at Whole Foods and Sprouts. So good!

    • Wendy says...

      I will second that! I was surprised Chocolove wasn’t included. I like quite a few different dark chocolate bars, but Chocolove 70 (or is it 72?) is my favorite.

  91. Omira says...

    This is such a great idea to do among friends and family! ”
    I personally love 80 – 90%chocolate. Bitter lady here :-))

  92. Lola says...

    What a fun read!
    Perhaps my taste buds are not as sophisticated as others here, but I love Ghirardelli’s 60% dark chocolate chips. I love that I don’t have to cut a piece off a bar. I have a tiny bowl that I use everyday where I mix them with salted cashews and roasted pistachios. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and salty.

    • Sadie says...

      yes!!! Though, I prefer the perfect size into which you can break the baking bar :)

    • Jessica says...

      Chocolate chips are the indulgent version of “A small bowl of nuts” – I totally endorse this idea.

    • Laura says...

      This is what I do as well with the same chocolate <3 I will sometimes just sprinkle sea salt over the chips….sooooooo yummy!!!

    • Kristen says...

      Yes! I pass through the baking aisle on every single grocery store run to see if the bittersweet Ghirardelli chips are on sale and buy embarrassing amounts when they are. They’re perfect with salted almonds!

    • K says...

      Lola- I was the same, and then I found Guittard. Even more delicious than ghiradelli bittersweet! I specifically like the extra dark (red package)

    • ange says...

      Have any of you tried the Guittard Extra Dark Chips? Neck and neck with the Ghirardelli – have both in the
      Christmas prep section of the pantry right now and just ran down to do a taste test haha

  93. Eloise says...

    I’m with Abby – you are all lying!

  94. K says...

    Love this post! Maybe someone can help with a chocolate related question I have. What’s the best chocolate with chili in it (I’m looking for something with a real kick to it, spicy = good)?

    • Jen says...

      Taza chocolate has a chili version!! Taza is the best chocolate for whacky flavors, hands down.

    • Jen says...

      Also wanted to follow up because it’s a topic people are bringing up in the comments- Taza uses the same suppliers as Tony’s Chocolonely and has similar (if not more strict) standards for human rights and ethical sourcing. https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/2018-transparency-report

    • Helen says...

      Lindt has a spicy, dark chocolate bar that I get from CVS. I commented on another post about an Ecuadorian brand, Pacari, and they have a delicious chili bar but that’s harder to find.

    • Brooke says...

      The honey mama bar has a spicy version! Leaves my tongue tingling.

  95. Laura says...

    I shall now go in search of Valrhona. Thank you for this highly informative post! :-)

  96. Michaela says...

    I love Tony’s dark for chocolate chip cookies! Roughly chopped for the NYT chocolate chip cookie recipe. Also LOVE their commitment to slave-free chocolate!

  97. Abby says...

    I’m a milk chocolate lady and having lived in several countries I feel pretty confident that the best milk chocolate in the world (or at least my small-ish world) is Sweden’s Marabou. This you can find at IKEA, though it is not related to IKEA’s own chocolate tested here.

    • Christina says...

      Yes! We ship some each year to our dear friends in the US :-)

    • Eva says...

      Agreed! Marabou tops it all! Followed by Ritter Sport.

  98. Andrea says...

    Blech!

  99. Denise says...

    My top fav is Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate. It’s 55% dark so it’s less bitter and oh so good. Plus it has little love poems inside the wrapper which are delightful.

  100. Elizabeth says...

    Yessssssss! I once threw an unfamiliar black-wrapped chocolate bar in my cart as I waited in line at Trader Joe’s and that bar was so delicious it instantly became my go-to. In the prepandemic times, when I shopped in person, I’d buy them in stacks. When I saw the title of this post, I thought to myself, “I wonder if they know about that awesome black-wrapped bar from the TJs checkout?”

  101. Charlotte K says...

    Good milk chocolate is delicious. I love both dark and milk. I probably love them both just a little TOO much.

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      Oh my gosh, right?? Milka milk chocolate is THE BEST!!

  102. Nina says...

    What a shame these reviews didn’t include any comparison of environmental or supply chain issues. The chocolate industry involves a lot of “modern” slavery (modern in “” because it’s just regular slavery, but happening now) and child labour, and not all of these companies are actively addressing that.

    • Elizabeth PFB says...

      I thought the same thing. I understand the need for fun and lightness during the pandemic, but this is a serious issue.

    • Em says...

      Nina, genuinely curious how you think this would work. If every single blog post, tiktok video, instagram caption, or sentence uttered on the internet needed to address EVERY angle of the topic… what would the internet be like?

      My vision of the internet is close to what Cup of Jo actually does, which is that they post topics digging into difficult complex issues like race and class disparities, politics, climate change, fair trade etc. And they also post light-hearted topics like chocolate tasting and outfits.

      Once we start requiring all of the latter to fully incorporate the former, I worry about (1) Our brain’s ability to process that amount of information in a way that is useful, and also (2) Whether anyone would continue to read anything on the internet at all.

      Is it your position that there is no place at all for entirely light-hearted posts to give us a mental break, to create community, to have fun? So long as we don’t neglect the important issues, I think the separation is important.

    • Abbey says...

      Agreed. It’s a fun post on the surface, but once you know about those supply chains it’s not possible to choose ignorance.
      My vote goes to Hu Chocolate. Their chocolate is deeeelicious and their cocoa is single-origin sourced from Sierra Leone through a child protection program that prevents child labor by ensuring the communities whose livelihoods rely on cocoa production are earning incomes high enough to keep their children in school, and not participating in child labor. I know because I asked.
      Here’s a good resource if you want to find more chocolate brands who have ethically responsible supply chains: http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/ethical-chocolate-companies

    • karla says...

      Thank you for that response, EM. That’s exactly what i was thinking but in a much more succinct manner.

    • J says...

      Yes thank you for bringing this up! Tony’s Chocolonely, Askanya Haitian Chocolate, & Lagusta’s Luscious are all delicious slavery-free options. No need to support slavery in 2020!!!! (and yes as mentioned above, the chocolate industry uses *actual* slavery to produce most large brands of chocolate. Really.)

    • TJ says...

      @Em – here is how it would work. Blogs would only promote purchasing items that are ethically produced. It’s not really that complicated?

    • Chris says...

      @Em, what good is it to discuss “difficult complex issues” if we don’t put our money where our mouth is? Of course we have to be educated and buy responsibly. Be aware of where and to whom your money is going, what you are supporting! It seems empty to discuss racism and then promote Lindt chocolate. Like sure treat the Black people in your town nice but also support Black people around the world getting a living wage for doing work instead of being abused by capitalists in the cacao industry. Slavery is real, it is today, it is the chocolate industry, how can we ignore? Being responsible is more than liking the right instagram posts and then taking a break.

    • Lydia Bruno says...

      Nina, thanks for surfacing this issue.
      For those (Em & Karla) who don’t want to harsh their mellow with these realities, I recommend examining your privilege.
      People that can afford to live in a bubble have enormous privilege, whether they acknowledge it or not.
      Introducing a talking point, as Nina did, does not take away from this post, but instead enriches it, inviting discussion, reflection and perhaps action (in the form of more intentional purchases).

    • Terry Beasley says...

      I totally agree and thought the same thing. We always buy Tony’s because of their labor practices. It might not be “fun” to talk about slavery in the context of chocolate, but I think to ignorantly post about it without addressing what is a major issue doesn’t work for me personally.

      For those of you who may be unaware, the NYTimes has covered this extensively and the Washington Post did a story last year about Mars, Nestle, and Hershey that is eye-opening. I’m not sure I can post the link below. The title is “Cocoa’s child laborers.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/business/hershey-nestle-mars-chocolate-child-labor-west-africa/

    • Stephanie says...

      I also agree with Em’s comment. I’ve been reading Cup of Jo for over a decade now because I love that they discuss both serious and light-hearted topics in thoughtful ways – even their sponsored content is often incorporated in a way that makes the post fun to read. I also love that they always respond to criticisms with grace (something that’s very hard to do).

      That being said, I agree that the chocolate industry is very flawed, and it’s good to bring it up. I just don’t think every post can address every issue or that we can point a finger at someone else for everything they don’t say. If I’m trying to make sure every item of clothing I’m wearing, all the electronics I’m using, and all the food I’m eating are ethically produced, it would be completely overwhelming. The best we can do is be more intentional the next time we use or purchase something, and to highlight the issues that are most important to us – again something Cup of Jo often does.

    • ellen says...

      Stella Parks,for Serious Eats,did a review of dark chocolate supermarket bars in April,2018
      they were all fair-trade,some worker-owned,bean to bar,vegan,kosher and gluten free
      at the time,i was looking for great chocolate for baking,and appreciated this article very much..

    • NM says...

      My knee jerk reaction was similar to Em’s.
      But I was so glad to see the other posts because… guess what: It’s really easy to say, it’s just a post on chocolate!
      But… it’s not that much harder to say: we taste tested ethically sourced chocolate because child slavery is an issue (insert a relevant link).
      I don’t judge CoJ at all for not doing this.
      I would likely not have thought of it myself.
      But I am so incredibly grateful that this corner of the ‘net sparks important conversation. We can’t know everything. Not as individuals, at least.
      That’s why we need community.
      That’s how we learn and grow.

    • Cynthia Miller says...

      How cool would it be if every blogger and influencer DID post about chocolate supply chain issues and chocolate eaters learned that they could support fair trade and sustainable chocolate growers and thus turn the world around?
      (It would be SUPER DUPER COOL!)
      I’m so tired of not buying chocolate I want because it doesn’t have a fair trade label. I cannot WAIT for the time when we won’t have to do that anymore because child labor and slave labor won’t be a thing anymore. Till then- I’ll keep checking.

  103. Meg says...

    I always buy the Lindt bar that you tested and I love it. I don’t think I’ve ever tried this Trader Joe’s or the Valrhona but I will definitely be fixing that!

  104. Esss says...

    Love the Endangered Species chocolate bars! Chocolate with a cause.

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      Yeah I’m wondering why this wasn’t on the list. It’s my husband’s fave.

    • Diane says...

      My favorite, too! I thought for sure it would be mentioned.

    • Courtney says...

      Agreed! I’ve tried so many chocolate bars, and Endangered Species are by far my favorite. So, so good.

    • lydia says...

      me too! they’re the best! i have them one year as teacher gifts and it made me so happy to know their gift was also supporting a wonderful cause

  105. Maryn says...

    My Singaporean father-in-law is completely obsessed with dark chocolate and is absolutely a chocolate snob, and guess what his favorite brand is! Valrhona (although 71% wouldn’t be nearly dark enough for him). :) And I agree—it is by far and away the best dark chocolate! Now I need some.

  106. awads says...

    You have to go Aldi!! Their Choceur bars, and Moser Roth, are our family favorites.

  107. DG says...

    This made me LOL this morning. Thank you for such stunning commentary and important reporting about “The Cup.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to verify the results first hand…

  108. katie says...

    Love this! My husband and I also enjoy a square of dark chocolate every night after dinner. Our year-round go-to is Ghiradelli Intense Dark W/ Sea Salt and Almonds. But at Christmas, we splurge and both fill each others stockings with different, interesting chocolate bars. It’s fun to see what we each come up with. I’m always a fan of most things Vosge.

  109. Julie K Whitmore says...

    I’m with Abby.

  110. aforss says...

    Madecasse chocolate is my favorite, followed by Theo. Among reasonably available and non-stratospherically priced chocolate, these stand out on flavor alone in my opinion. Also important to me — they also use only organic and fair-trade chocolate; Madecasse in particular is dedicated to this.
    On the pricier and harder-to-find end, Dandelion and Bonnat make some amazing single-origin chocolate bars.

  111. Alison says...

    I love my chocolate very dark. Green and Black’s 85% forever! Trader Joe’s has also started stocking an 85% Ugandan bar that’s delicious and a good price.

    • ellie says...

      Can confirm Green and Black’s 85% – I don’t like dark chocolate but this one is delicious!

    • kiki says...

      This is one of my favorites, as well! My other favorite is HU Hazelnut Butter.

    • Clare says...

      Oh I completely agree. I do not enjoy a 70% bar nearly as much as I love an 85% – Green and Black is awesome, as is Divine, but my favorite is the Dark Chocolate Lover’s 85% bar from Trader Joe’s. We’ve had to do a similar taste testing early in the pandemic, as I wasn’t about to go to multiple stores just for my chocolate fix and didn’t want to risk it being the next AP Flour. It was a lot of fun, and I realized that my 5 year old is a big fan of very dark chocolate. I should have known though – he also likes to steal sips of black coffee.

  112. Lauren B says...

    We are a “dark chocolate squares for dessert” family, and I have to recommend Bovetti Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt as a treat. It isn’t cheap, but it is SOOOOO good. It may be hard to find in some places, but we are lucky that our local grocery store (Central Market) sells it.

    • ellie says...

      Wow you really pay $30 per bar? That is both daunting and impressive haha. Do you know of a better price than Amazon to buy it? I love a chocolate splurge once in a great while.

    • ellie says...

      ok I re-read: Central Market. Will check it out, even though I’ll have to wrap my head around that price! But thanks for the tip! The conclusion of this year deserves a serious reward and this may be just the thing.

  113. Kari T. says...

    I once worked a camp job in the artic territory of Nunavut where my boss declared “Life’s too short to eat milk chocolate” so we were well stocked in Lindt’s dark chocolate truffles to keep us feeling decadent in our snow-covered tents. Lindt chocolate bars also added a touch of home to a camp job in the jungles of Suriname so it will always hold a special place in my dark chocolaty heart.

  114. supercalifragilistic says...

    The chipped polish in foto 6 is driving me nuts – it is not ok. Sorry not sorry

    But I am enjoying Côte d’Or Noir de Noir – think I got it at Whole Foods?

    • Molly says...

      She’s a kid! It struck me as cute and made me miss all the tweens and teens in my life that I’ve not seen in months due to the pandemic. Try to find the good and if not, keep it zipped!

    • ale n. says...

      ah, but it is okay. it is perfectly okay.

    • meg says...

      seriously? she’s a kid. you grinching up this lighthearted, completely awesome post? – it is not ok. sorry not sorry.

  115. Karine says...

    I am voting for Lindt on behalf of all the people from Europe ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Haha I LOVE the Lindt dark chocolate w a touch of sea salt — we get those bars all the time at the grocery store.

    • Colleen S says...

      I’m not European, and love Lindt. There was a store in an outdoor mall that I used to go to where you could choose the flavors you wanted and have a variety pack. I loved their Amaretto truffles. I’m so upset they don’t make that flavor any longer (at least in the U.S.). I also love their chocolate bars.

  116. I loved this post! Sent it to my mom right away :-)

  117. Ok, I am embarrassed to admit this but shame dies in the light so, here it is: My husband and I buy our favorite dark chocolate bars in bulk online. Boxes of 50 bars at a time. We eat a bar a day, nearly. We have two kids under 5 and we both work from home, and we don’t have family nearby and we haven’t seen our friends since last March so don’t come at me. These are trying times, and the chocolate is crucial to our survival. Anyway, it is the Endangered Species Almonds Sea Salt + Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa) which is the BEST dark chocolate bar out there (we have tried them all, including the famous Theo chocolate from Seattle, which is a close second but more expensive and not quiiiite as good).

    • awads says...

      I support this activity and will fight anyone who shames you! :-)

    • Em says...

      Tonia, I am right there with you!! I buy 50 bars of Endangered Species 88% dark at a time, indulging in a few squares a day. It’s the simplest pleasure and it’s just perfect during these trying times. :)

    • ellie says...

      Dude, same, haha. No shame!
      I got a box of 36, and a different brand, but bulk buying is so smart.

    • Pam says...

      Tonia you are a genius. YES the 72% Endangered Species chocolate is hands down my favorite bar too.

    • Diane says...

      Totally agree with you, Tonia. It is a pleasure to be savored—and the BEST bar, at that. Whatever can get us through these dark (ha ha) times.

    • K says...

      You are in good company, my friend.

    • CC says...

      Tonia, this is amazing! As a fellow chocolate enthusiast with two young kids and both my husband and me working full-time with no family around, why did I not think of ordering in bulk?!?!?
      Thank you for this wonderful plan.

    • Agnès says...

      absolutely! Chocolate is the ONE thing we’ve prioritized in the last months.

    • ale n. says...

      YES, the Endangered Species almonds sea salt + dark choco is the bestttt. I could easily eat 6 lbs in one sitting.

    • Kara says...

      This is the kind of energy I need in 2020!

    • Tonia S says...

      This beautiful solidarity made my day…Stay well, fellow chocolate-binging pandemic queens.

  118. Kathleen says...

    Theo Dark Chocolate with Salt or Hu Dark Chocolate!

    • fgb says...

      I second the Hu dark chocolates – yum!

    • Anouk says...

      Tcho, Theo, Raaka !!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I should’ve mentioned that I really wanted to include Theo’s here because it’s so widely available, but the only ones that were in stock in my neighborhood were the dark chocolate bars with sea salt. It’s WONDERFUL, but since all of these bars were strictly dark chocolate I needed to keep things even.

    • Erin says...

      Ditto to Theo! I was surprised it wasn’t included.

      Seattle’s Best is my favorite, although it’s likely regional.

  119. Ellen says...

    Check out Chocosphere.com. My husband used to run chocolate tastings for an undergraduate college at our university when we were grad students, and he always got a variety of delicious bars from Chocosphere. We still buy from them…we often have eight or so bars going at once (which we keep in a giant ziploc). Chocosphere is a good source for chocolate that’s produced ethically (without slave labor).

    • ellie says...

      REC’s ! ! !

    • Cleo says...

      You haven’t really tried dark chocolate until you’ve had a single origin bar. Only then you can appreciate the different notes (fruity, bitter, woody, coffee-like). Although these are hard to get in the supermarket.

  120. Lindsay Norlen says...

    I actually prefer Lindt 85%! It takes some getting used to, but is so rich and delicious.

    • Karyn says...

      YES! Came here to say this. Lindt 85% forever-n-ever, so good, so easily acquired, never any stress about where I will get that fix :)

  121. Kara says...

    I was legit thinking how Tony’s “chunkiness” (and funky shapes) would not only make it hard to fit in a blind taste test of typically thin bars but also would probably make it less appealing when compared to thin bars of dark chocolate, even before I read the commentary! Dark chocolate is best in small amounts, i.e. thin amounts. BUT. I have to put a plug for Tony’s bars here generally–they’re so good, and their mission to end slavery in the chocolate trade makes it taste even better. My fav is their milk chocolate hazelnut bar. What I learned from just the bar wrapper has made me think hard about all my chocolate purchases.

  122. Danielle says...

    I love this so so much! The food tournaments are so much fun :) I hope y’all keep making more of them!

  123. Laura says...

    Dudes, 90% is dark, 70 is medium surely

    • Erin says...

      haha! I consider 80%+ ‘truly dark’ but then occasionally I have milk chocolate and remember why 70% is considered dark.

  124. Sherri says...

    FRAN’S!!

  125. Clare says...

    Vosges is the only correct answer :)

    • Em says...

      Yes! Vosges’ Matcha Green Tea & Spirulina Super Dark is my #1 favorite treat whenever I see it on sale.

    • jane says...

      mine is the Reishi Walnut bar

    • inez says...

      I’m not a dark chocolate person so I LOVE the Tukwila hazelnut bar! Is basically Nutella in bar form.

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      YOU ARE RIGHT. My husband and I visited Seattle a few years ago and got a few truffles at our b&b. We immediately sought out whole bags from the grocery store to take back to the East Coast. The coffee and mint flavors! Ahhhh!

    • Erin says...

      Absolutely THE BEST. My mother and I gift them to each other for every occasion.

      The espresso and the hazelnut are my favorite.

    • Megan says...

      So good. Between SBC and Theo, Seattle is rocking the chocolate.

  126. Halle says...

    The Endangered Species Chocolate – for purists, the 88% Strong & Velvety; for thrill-seekers, the Forest Mint or Hazelnut Toffee 72% – is just incredible. We try other brands but they never match up.

  127. A says...

    Alter eco is always my favorite! Any flavor of theirs is heavenly.
    And for a splurge and major treat yourself moment, I love Ritual. Especially the bourbon vanilla.

    • Kitty says...

      That’s my fave brand too. We always stock up on the Sea Salt or Brown Butter. Gotta go get a bar now!

    • Meg says...

      The Godiva solid dark chocolate bars… the ones with gold wrapper that come 4 squares to a bar. They’re thicker than Lindt squares. A bit of a splurge but all I need is one square after lunch and I’m set!

    • Meg says...

      Oops that wasn’t meant to be a reply!

    • Nico says...

      We have the same taste in chocolate, both Alter eco as well as Ritual. The best!

    • Amy says...

      Alter Eco is my favorite grocery store chocolate brand too. I always stock up!

  128. Pamela says...

    “People who like dark chocolate are lying” made me laugh out loud. I loved this, thanks.

    • Rachael Schiffman says...

      Same! I always say “people who don’t like chocolate” are lying. Believe it or not I know a few.

  129. Hilary says...

    Now this is my kind of taste test! I was hoping to see my favorite on the list: Theo! Theo has a bunch of dark chocolates, and they’re sold at a lot of grocery stores. Their website and factory in Seattle have even more fun treats. Besides Theo, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s! For milk chocolate, my husband loves the 3 pack of milk chocolate bars that are under $2 and much better than the pricier versions we’ve tried.

    • Kristen says...

      Hilary! We live just up the hill from the Theo factory — and joke that we can never move. (The first time I visited, I ate so many samples that my heart started racing liked I’d drunk four cups of coffee.)

      Your post made me think to look at Theo’s website and now I’ know what I’m going to gift all the east coast family members I haven’t seen in 9 months…Virtual Tasting Classes (which come with chocolate!):
      https://theochocolate.com/virtual-chocolate-tasting-class/

  130. Ana says...

    I can’t wait to try the winner¡ I love the Lindt but my favourite is the Montezuma 100%
    You’d think it would be really bitter but it’s not. Plus it melts in your mouth when you have a bite

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yum!!

    • Maryn says...

      I love this one too!

  131. Rachel says...

    Am I the only one who’s never heard of this winning chocolate bar? I swear I’ve never seen it in a store. I’m in Atlanta… maybe that’s part of it. Now I’m on the hunt!

    • jess says...

      It’s at Trader Joe’s.
      This post is also really making me re-think the whole Fair Trade/slavery issue. Especially for a luxury like chocolate. Thank you to everyone who is posting comments about it.

      It really is time to use my dollars to support the companies who are working to resolve these insane issues. I feel like I’ve been asleep – I really had no idea until recently that slavery STILL EXISTS in the world. I thought issues like this were what the UN and all the other agencies around the globe were for. Also I just thought humanity was more evolved. It’s been eye-opening.

    • K says...

      Check the baking aisle instead of the candy aisle!