A gift of chocolate is appropriate for almost anyone of almost any age and for almost any occasion. However, without specific criteria, locating and selecting the world’s finest chocolates can be daunting. That is why I am going to share the criteria that I use to find some of the finest chocolates in the world online.
But, before I do, let me remind you that the easiest way for you to find great chocolate is to keep visiting us here at The Go To Chocolate Store. In the next several weeks and months, we will be posting reviews on some of the finest chocolates we have found.
For now, here are the criteria that I use when searching for and selecting the world’s finest chocolates online.
Top Ten Chocolate Producers Are Best
There are always exceptions to the above statement, but the reality is that the largest chocolate manufacturers are more likely to invest in state-of-the-art facilities that assure consistently great chocolate. And these companies usually have better access to the best and freshest ingredients.
As of 2018, there are 195 countries in the world. However, only ten of these countries are renowned for the chocolates that they produce.
I begin my searches with chocolate companies based in the world’s four major chocolate producing countries: the United States, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany. Then I browse for chocolate companies located in one of the other six countries renowned for great chocolate: Mexico, Spain, France, The United Kingdom, Italy, and Denmark.
Surprisingly, none of the four major chocolate producing countries are major producers of the single most essential ingredient…cocoa. Of the remaining six countries, only Mexico produces a substantial crop of cocoa, and yet, Mexico imports more chocolate than it exports.
Accept Only The Best and Freshest Ingredients
In a past life, I was a quality engineer. So, I know that a consistently great product is no accident. The best chocolatiers use only the freshest spices, fruits, and other ingredients. They start with the best cocoa beans, and use only pure cocoa butter containing no vegetable fat. They use no chemicals, no additives, no preservatives, and no soy.
Most of the world’s best cocoa beans are grown in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. There are others, but these are by far the most prevalent.
Look Toward The Masters of Chocolate Making
Many of Europe’s finest chocolates are still made by family-owned businesses that have existed for generations–several for more than 100 years.
While the United States is the world’s largest producer of great chocolate, many of its best chocolate makers learned or perfected their trades in Europe–often Italy, Spain, or France.
I don’t think it coincidence that many of the master chocolatiers in the United States and the world import their bulk chocolate from Belgium, France, or Switzerland.
Commitment to Quality
There are many things that great chocolate producers can do to demonstrate their commitments to quality:
- Invest in state-of-the-art manufacturing, packaging, or shipping plants to improve efficiencies and quality.
- Comply with quality standards like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and BRC to demonstrate a commitment to repetitive, world-class processes.
- Establish strong partnership relationships with employees, growers and service providers.
It All Comes Down To The Presentation… Oh Yeah, And The Taste
When you present a beautiful box of the world’s finest chocolates to someone you love, you probably won’t be asked where the cocoa beans were harvested. It is unlikely that you will be asked if the chocolatier was trained in France or Italy. And I am almost certain that you will not be questioned about the chocolate company’s compliance to ISO standards in its manufacturing processes.
If the container is artistically designed or beautifully gift-wrapped, you might hear:
- “What a beautiful gift!” OR
- “This looks so elegant!” OR
- “I love you!” OR
- “Did you get me flowers too?” Some people just want it all.
Now, what about taste? Is it true that to a chocolate lover, all chocolate is good? Maybe, but I don’t believe it’s that simple.
My wife, who loves chocolate, has often told me that she would rather have one or two pieces of “great” chocolate every week than several pieces of “good” chocolate every day. Of course, one piece of great chocolate every day is even better.
So, even to a chocolate lover, there is often a difference between good chocolate and GREAT chocolate. The catch is that opinions about what qualifies as great chocolate can be somewhat subjective.
We’ve already discussed the importance of the presentation of the unopened container, but what about the candy itself? What about taste?
This is where all the senses are involved. Many people, my wife included, anticipate a luxurious treat by taking in the fragrance of the chocolate when the box is first opened. Next, they may take a minute to appreciate the artistic selection and placement of the chocolates. After selecting a chocolate, they might purposefully experience its texture and firmness. And finally, taking the first bite, they make their final determination of the quality of the chocolate by both its texture and its taste.
What about the sense of hearing? Well, if you present the chocolate yourself or are nearby when it is delivered, you will assess the quality of your gift by what you see and hear. Expressions of approval and sounds of delight as your loved one(s) enjoys receiving and eating GREAT chocolate are your best indicators.
Finding The Best Chocolate Online – Is It Worth The Effort?
There is no doubt that finding the best chocolate online requires time and effort, but with diligence and an awareness of the basic criteria that I have identified, it can be done. I believe that the most important criteria are:
- Chocolates are manufactured in one of the top ten chocolate-producing countries.
- Only the best and freshest ingredients are used.
- The founder(s) or owner(s) were mentored by European masters.
- Bulk chocolate is imported from Belgium, France, or Switzerland.
- There is obvious evidence of the manufacturer’s commitment to quality.
These are the solid indicators that I use when purchasing great chocolate. These guidelines narrow the field of many good chocolates to a much smaller field of a few great chocolates. You can feel confident that your gift is some of the finest chocolates in the world.
You will, of course, base your selection(s) on the type of relationship that you enjoy with your partner or friend. Your personal knowledge of that person’s preferences will direct your final selection to the perfect gift of superb chocolate.
The receiver(s) of a gift of great chocolate may never recognize what goes into the creation of a chocolate masterpiece. And you may never reveal your effort to research, identify, and select the perfect gift. Oh well. You will realize your quiet demonstration of affection, and you gain the satisfaction of proudly presenting a beautiful and delicious gift of the world’s finest chocolates .
I have shared with you the criteria that I use to find some of the finest chocolate in the world online.
We will continue working very hard to become your first and last stop when looking for the best chocolate online. So, remember to visit us often at The Go To Chocolate Store.