The chocolate I kept eating in 2014

If you haven’t already guessed from my fixation on chocolate, I am a bit of an obsessive. More specifically, I repeatedly, habitually return to things that I enjoy, trying to know them ever better – listening to favorite songs on repeat for days on end, rereading favorite books, rewatching favorite movies, sniffing favorite scents ad infinitum. (Right now it’s the frankincense resin from Mandy Aftel’s Fragrant Companion Kit that has me hooked.) My curious sense of smell, for example, is a source of constant disruption. Students cheerfully roll their eyes when I stop and note “Weird, the office is smelling like earthworms today” mid-conversation and my loved ones don’t even think twice anymore when I observe “I think your sweater smells like barley.” The world, for me, is full of stink, stank, stunk.

When it comes to chocolate tasting, there is still much to learn. This is partly because tasting chocolate is a serious occupation for extremely few, but also because excellence in making fine chocolate remains the provenance of a limited group. Beyond this, we have yet to determine with accuracy what constitutes excellence in chocolate, especially when expert opinion, which is all over the map, is involved. I don’t formally review chocolate or regularly read reviews. But I do taste a lot of different chocolate, both carefully chosen and broadly acquired, with frequency, and I’ve developed firm opinions about what I like and want to recommend. This murky disclaimer aside, for me, chocolate is at its most interesting when it begs to be returned to repeatedly.

Without further ado, here are the 10 chocolate bars and confections that I’ve most obsessed over in 2014. You’ll note that this group is almost entirely made up of North American makers, and that’s a reflection of my focus this year. They’re not ranked but rather are loosely grouped by how I experience them. If you haven’t tried them already, maybe you’d like to do so, over and over again.*

Group 1: The cacao sings
1. Rogue Chocolatier Porcelana 80%
2. Rogue Chocolatier Jamaica 75%
3. Franceschi Chocolate Canoabo 70%
4. Soma Chocolate Little Big Man 70%

Group 2: Flavor magic
5. Patric Chocolate Triple Ginger
6. Patric Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie
7. Lonohana Estate Chocolate Nene Milk

Group 3: Party time
8. De Vries Chocolate Caramelized Nib Clusters (pro-tip: don’t eat before bed)
9. Guido Gobino Cioccolateria Artigiana Tourinot Maximo +39
10. Soma Chocolate Old School 66%

The ones that got away: I had the opportunity to taste just a few precious es koyama bonbons at an event this year and haven’t stopped thinking about them since. Dear Santa, please bring me some from Japan?

*Several of these bars were funded or launched via the Future Chocolate initiative of The Chocolate Garage. If you like them, consider investing in Future Chocolate yourself.

These are all chocolate experiences that I would officially dub “no sharesies.” As I share these recommendations selflessly with you, know that I do so reluctantly and with love. Enjoy.


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    Bittersweet Notes is an open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. I invite you to join me as I explore the story of chocolate and the life stories of those involved with chocolate at its many stages of production and consumption.

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