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The Best California Chocolate Makers
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The Best California Chocolate Makers

Here are the best California chocolate brands crafting works of art using single-origin, high-quality chocolate with a conscience.

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5 min read

October 21, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

A romantic gesture, goodies from grandma’s purse, a get-well-soon visit, a housewarming gift, a souvenir from your cultural travels - the list goes on for how commonly and universally chocolate is enjoyed by all. This prestigious, creamy sweet has a magical ability to brighten any day. With ingredients ranging from marshmallows and honey to white pepper and rhubarb, there’s no end to the flavor profiles you can experience with this single, decadent dessert. Though it’s tempting to stick to your favorite chocolate bar, there’s too much good chocolate in the Golden State to not branch out.

While there are endless brands to choose from, many California chocolate companies go above and beyond—crafting works of art using single-origin, high-quality chocolate with a conscience. 

Southern California Chocolate

Cocoa butter can be substituted for cocoa beans to make decadent white chocolate.

1. LETTERPRESS CHOCOLATe

Based in: Los Angeles.

Specializing in small-batch, bean-to-bar, and single-origin chocolates, LetterPress Chocolate uses sustainable practices and organic cane sugar to forge this melt-in-your-mouth creation. Aside from being an award-winning Los Angeles chocolate company, the taste of its sweet desserts is what has customers hooked. Order a handful of dark chocolate bars in various flavors such as spicy chili, mint, and mocha. Make sure to add the unexpected white chocolate varieties and learn all about the substitution of cocoa beans with a cocoa butter while you grab a gift box of the best chocolate in Los Angeles to take home.

High-quality chocolate produced from intentionally farmed ingredients is what this California chocolate shop offers.

2. PARLIAMENT CHOCOLATE

Based in: Redlands.

Owned by Ryan and Cassi Berk, this California chocolate is based in a small shop offering high-quality chocolate, created from intentionally sourced ingredients. Parliament Chocolate specializes in single-origin chocolate bars and prioritizes respect for the farmers and the chocolate itself, resulting in an unparalleled experience. The company hand-sorts the beans, then roasts, winnows, refines, and tempers the bars, making the most of California’s ingredients. You can take your pick between cacao nibs, chocolate syrup, hot cocoa mix, drinking chocolate, chocolate bars, and truffles—or surrender to a chocolate-tasting experience and try one of each.

The broad selection of this California chocolate shop will drive you wild on sweet bites of nourishment.

3. NIBBLE CHOCOLATE

Based in: San Diego.

Nibble Chocolate isn’t your average chocolate company. Serving up small batches of single-origin treats, this chocolate shop in San Diego uses just two ingredients. Nibble Chocolate sells ethically made, vegan chocolate that maintains its health benefits. Lounge between the variety of cocoa percentages of classic chocolate bars and go wild with a selection of vegan truffles, chocolate flights, and Nibblelitos (jars of perfectly snackable chocolate squares).

The secret ingredient to this California chocolate is love–and maybe a little bit of cacao.

4. BAR AU CHOCOLAT 

Based in: Manhattan Beach.

A tempestuous combination of art and science merge in this California chocolate lab. Founded in 2010 by Nicole Trutanich, Bar au Chocolat is a labor of love. Beginning with sustainable farming practices, the company crafts small quantities of high-end chocolates using only two ingredients, bringing out the taste of the cacao beans. Taste the authenticity of the dark chocolate bars, as the beans shine through and laissez les bons temps rouler! Make sure to try the hot chocolate and roasted cacao nibs to round out your pantry, and let these delectable sweets brighten up your day.

THE BEST CHOCOLATE IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

5. DANDELION CHOCOLATE 

Based in: San Francisco.

Arguably offering the best single-origin chocolate bars in San Francisco, Dandelion Chocolate is a small-batch California chocolate company with an affinity for dark chocolate. Founded in 2010, Dandelion Chocolate provides an untraditional chocolate-eating experience. One of the only foods that are fermented and roasted before ending up in your hands, chocolate has unbounded potential and can taste like so many things; from honeycomb and macadamia nuts to whipped cream and key lime, and even a Hojita hot chocolate. Dandelion accentuates the inherent flavors without adding anything but sugar. If you have yet to try these unbelievable bars, now’s a perfect time.

The TCHO Chocolate laboratory's eccentric methods have turned it into one of California’s best chocolate brands.

6. TCHO CHOCOLATE

Based in: Berkeley.

A crowd favorite in the Bay Area Chocolate Tasting test, and the finest of California chocolate makers, TCHO Chocolate has won our hearts. With a deep commitment to acknowledging its resources, this California business is a unique and successful project, encouraging its farmers to participate in the various stages of the production process. Eccentric methods such as scientific approaches to chocolate making and incorporating the Company Flavor Labs to train farmers and leaders on how to distinguish the nuances of the cacao beans have allowed TCHO to rise above its competitors. Putting education first, from tracking weather patterns to observing soil variations, TCHO has nailed the art of consistency and is now one of the best chocolate brands in California.

7. DICK TAYLOR CRAFT CHOCOLATE

Based in: Eureka.

Using organic, fairly traded cacao, Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate completes all three weeks of the chocolate-making process in its Eureka factory to produce some of the best chocolate bars out there. Enjoy even the subtlest flavors brought out by organic ingredients of cane sugar and cacao as the base for each bar of chocolate, making it one of the most organic chocolate brands. Whether you try an exotic flavor like the black fig or brown butter with nibs and sea salt or go simple with 92% Madagascar Sambirano, you’ll surely be craving more. And if you’re driving through Eureka during your Ferndale getaway, make sure to stop in for some drool-worthy chocolate fudge pops.

Chocolate beans are growing in these green and yellow cocoa pods.

8. GUITTARD CHOCOLATE

Based in: Burlingame.

If the scent of chocolate chip cookies wafting over you at the Millbrae BART station isn’t enough to make you want to cheat on your diet, we don’t know what will. With several generations of chocolate-makers in the family, Guittard – an exceptional California chocolate – has mastered the art of eating, baking, and drinking chocolate. So if you’re looking for an exceptional bar of blended, single-origin, dark, or milk chocolate, Guittard is an ideal place to start.

9. Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory

Based in: Folsom.

Glancing through its vintage looks, Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory has been standing since 1963. Distributing sweets for approximately 60 years, founder John Snook has even served the Maid of California–of the 60s California Beauty Pageant– during the State Fair. If the faith in its history won’t drive you in, the fragrance of the Fudge Rocky Road Toffee, honeycomb candy, or the butterfly brittles just might do the trick! Experience the authenticity of this quintessential chocolaterie with its gourmet productions by long-time experts.

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