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Top Bean-to-bar Chocolate Makers in the World

Top Bean-to-bar Chocolate Makers in the World

Chocolate industry, as many other segments of the food industry is radically shifting towards sustainability, high-quality and ethical sourcing and production. Some call it "bean-to-bar chocolate revolution" some prefer more hipster term "craft chocolate".  But what exactly does it mean? The answer is simple: transparency and quality. It starts with beans grown, harvested and fermented in a particular region (very often at a particular plantation) that later travel to a particular chocolate maker that make chocolate that later travels to us and which we, in our turn, deliver to your doorsteps. We carefully check that chocolate tastes good and doesn't contain any "funny" ingredients. Chocolate makers check that beans are grown in the most sustainable way, that that are properly fermented and that farmers are not using "funny" practices like child slavery etc. Needles to say that the "funny" part used by the most of the mass-market producers is not funny at all.   

Hello Chocolate has been in this business since 2015 and we've tasted a lot of chocolate since then building our Chocolate Collection literally bar by bar. And here's our constantly expanding list of the best bean-to-bar chocolate makers from around the world. We are not insisting that it is the full list of all amazing bean-to-bar chocolate makers that you can find out there. But each brand is this list is dear personally for us, because we've been in this together for a long time and share a lot or stories, victories and disappointments. It was damn difficult and it was damn fun. 

Bean-to-bar chocolate expanded significantly since 2015. And continues to do so. For us it all started in steamy Singapore and now we run our operations in the United States and Canada as well as in Asia. We would like to thank everyone who shared with us this exciting journey.  

All makers here are listed in alphabetical order and we tried our best to include as many images and videos we could find to share with you the brightens or craft chocolate industry. It doesn't matter if it is a two-persons operations or a big factory. What is more important is that they stick to the core values: transparency and quality. It is also important for us that they understand that together we are building a sustainable distribution channel that will help independent chocolate makers to reach their customers avoiding unnecessary intermediaries and greedy retail chains that push supplies to sacrifice their values in order to make the cost of their chocolate as low as possible. The practice that led us to consume us sugar and brown dust mixed with unpronounceable chemicals instead of real chocolate. 

We hope that this list will help you to find some hidden gems in the exciting world of bean-to-bar and to support chocolate makers and hard-working farmers shopping with Hello Chocolate. Together we can make a difference. Bar by bar. 

 

Beau Cacao 

Country: France

Cacao origins: Malaysia

Products highlights: predominantly single-plantation dark chocolate with low sugar and high cocoa content. Support family-owned cacao farm in Malaysian Borneo. Using sustainable biodegradable materials for their packaging.  

Bonnat 

Country: France

Cacao origins: famous for chocolate made from directly-sourced rare cacao from different parts of the world: Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador among many others. 

Products highlights: The celerity chocolatier Stephane Bonnat is the  

 

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Sustainable Ancient Gift Wrapping - Furoshiki and Tenugui

Sustainable Ancient Gift Wrapping - Furoshiki and Tenugui

History

The Japanese weaves caring and sharing into all layers of society. They believe that politeness engenders order, safety, and cleanliness – significant values to live by. A polite society is a caring society. By being polite, people are considerate – they think of and put the convenience and feelings of others first when serving their friends, families, and even strangers. This permeates through every layer of institution and infrastructure in Japan as evident in the baskets provided to hold handbags and shopping bags at restaurants and trays to proffer money to reduce confusion and facilitate passing of coins and bills, just to name a few.

By extension, many Japanese believe that caring for possessions and careful presentation is of paramount importance. As such, the wrapping (Tsutsumu) and tying (Musubi) of Furoshiki and Tenugui are calming cultural rituals and a way of caring for valuables. This speaks volumes for the ingrained cultural significance: Tsutsumu means to wrap, but also refers to the unborn fetus inside a mother’s womb, therefore treating the fetus’s soul with love and respect – as with the valuable contents within Furoshiki and Tenugui!

Musubi (tying) comes from God Musubi, a deity of creation and living. Over time, Musubi has come to also mean marriage and amulet, as a protection from evil; connecting two people in a sacred and safe union. The cultural significance permeates through the ancient traditions of using Furoshiki (and Tenugui), with people wrapping and tying their valuables using these adorned fabrics to celebrate the timeless love, care, and respect for the items within.

Furoshiki

Furo means bath and shiki means to lay. One of Japan’s most historically significant everyday accessories, the Furoshiki’s history is one that goes back 1,200 years. Today’s Furoshiki cloth was initially used during the Nara Period (AD 710 – 794) as cloth protection for precious items often found in Japanese temples. Its role began to shift in the Heian period (AD 794 – 1185) when onsen-going lords did not want to get their kimonos mixed up, so they wrapped their clothes in Furoshiki with their family’s crest on it.

Furoshiki is a square-shaped cloth used in Japan to wrap items and carry them. They have various sizes, ranging from the size of a hand to the size of a bedsheet! Being made of fabric, Furoshiki can be stored easily, are very light and can wrap many different kinds of shapes. For those reasons, Furoshiki is convenient for day-to-day needs. They can be used to wrap several small goods together or wrap one bulky item, like a wine bottle or a large sake bottle. In addition to these advantages, Furoshiki can be washed like other cloth when they get dirty. Japanese re-acknowledged that Furoshiki is also environmentally friendly, it became even more popular.

Tenugui

In Japanese, Te means hand and Nugui means to wipe. Tenugui refers to a thin Japanese hand towel made of cotton and is most commonly rectangular and 90cm by 35cm in dimension. Back in the Heian period (AD 794 – 1192), Tenugui was used as an accessory for Shinto rituals. Through the years, the use of this towel slowly gained widespread acceptance and it was during the Edo period (AD 1592 – 1868) that it became a necessary item in daily life. It is practical for daily use as a washcloth, dishcloth, to cover face from dirt, and even to wrap small items.

Differences between Furoshiki and Tenugui

A typical Furoshiki is bigger, thicker, and generally sturdier than a Tenugui. This is due to the original utility of a Furoshiki being a medium of transport for items when outside of one’s living space, and therefore are purposefully made to look more presentable. Tenugui on the other hand, were meant for indoor usage and therefore not hemmed. However, in the more modern times, both the Furoshiki and Tenugui are appreciated not only for their practicality, but also for their artistic values so it is common to see beautifully made Furoshiki and Tenugui – such as the ones that we offer for sustainable gift-wrapping!

Note:

Since the ends of Tenugui were simply cut off and not hemmed, slight fraying is to be expected from use. In the beginning, when the threads of the weft becomes frayed, cut off these threads. Once both ends become fringes of about 1cm with continued use and wash, the threads of the weft will cease to fray.

Japanese Furoshiki Makers

The Furoshiki offered by Kamawanu are screen-printed by hand.

Kamawanu specializes in the making of Tenugui using a special “Chusen” hand-dyeing technique, which dates back to the Meiji period more than 100 years ago. Since its establishment in 1987, Kamawanu has developed more than 500 different Tenugui patterns, thus bringing new life to the “Chusen” hand-dyeing tradition, including the training of apprentice “Chusen” craftspeople. Today, the “Chusen” technique is used by craftspeople who value its refined textures and visual qualities. Dyes used in this special technique are of different shades of colors depending upon each day’s weather, temperature, and humidity. These dyes on the Tenugui will gently fade with each washing but will also soften the Tenugui itself. This is the unique quality of the “Chusen” dyeing technique. Tenugui is all dyed by hand, and thus all products may not be completely identical.

Why Furoshiki and Tenugui?

With the historical and cultural significance of Furoshiki and Tenugui, sending a gift wrapped within these hand-dyed fabrics elevates the gifting to a whole new experience. The gift takes on unthinkable thoughtfulness, especially when compared to using disposable wrapping paper that pervades society today. Just as many people are becoming more and more eco-friendly and conscious about the impact on our environment, the Furoshiki and Tenugui is gradually coming to the forefront of gifting. This is the epitome of sustainable gift wrapping for your chocolates. Not only is it an aesthetically pleasing replacement of one-time use paper/plastic gift wraps, Furoshiki and Tenugui can be washed, reused and repurposed for multiple functions. The only limit would be one’s imagination. Moreover, with the intrinsic artistic value and the practicality of Furoshiki and Tenugui, it is essentially multiple gifts in one.

Other Uses

Packing lunch boxes, transporting food/groceries/wine bottles/beers/fragile goods, used as tablecloth/handkerchief/placemats/napkins, general purpose bags for books/wine bottles, framed and hung on the wall as art, extra padding for headgear, worn as a bandana/shawl, used as a sling/temporary bandage during an emergency!

How to Tie

Furoshiki - Gift Wrapping

Furoshiki - Side Ribbon

Furoshiki - Drop Bag

Tenugui - Wine Bottle Carrier

Tenugui - Accessory Pouch

Create Your Own Gifts!

Add your own flair and personalization by curating your own chocolate gift for your loved ones, friends, colleagues, or anyone else who is lucky enough to be a recipient! 

Just add a Furoshiki of your choice under "Build Your Gift"  to the shopping cart, and your chocolates will be wrapped in them by default! Include a gift message as you please, they will be printed on a translucent card in a handwriting font.

(P.S. Gifts look best when they have a minimum of three bars!)

Check Out Other Pre-Made Gifts!

We have specially curated several gift sets of historically best-selling chocolates from our current collection. They are all wrapped in either Furoshiki or Tenugui, just add a personal touch with a message to the recipient!

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Our Bean-to-bar Chocolate Tasting Rules

Our Bean-to-bar Chocolate Tasting Rules
  • Taste. Taste. Taste. It's the only way to learn. 

  • There's a lot to be learned from a great bar of chocolate. But there's even more to learn from one you didn't like. 

  • Be open, be curious and let your enthusiasm show. If the people selling you bean-to-bar chocolate are still snobby, they're in the wrong business. 

  • Always check our customer reviews and/or leave your own. Share with others what you are excited about, You also get the best recommendation this way. 

  • Bean-to-bar chocolate is more expensive than mass-market "chocolate" because it is made of premium materials. But just because a bar is expensive doesn't mean it is good. But most of our chocolate brands go through a rigorous selection process. So Hello Chocolate does this part for you. 

  • If you don't like the bar you've opened at first, taste it again every thirty minutes or so to see how your perception evolved. Or even try again the next day. 

  • Don't wait for something special to open a special bar of chocolate. 

  • A great chocolate maker is more important than the origin of cacao beans. 

  • Chocolate's number one job is to make us "casually" happy.  

  • In the end, there are no rules when it comes to bean-to-bar chocolate. 

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The Yellow & The Blue

help ukraine | Vegan Chocolate Shop

Dear Friends,

When we started Hello Chocolate in 2015, one of our founding principles was that this business is not supposed to be about us.  It’s about chocolate.  We have no interest in building a cult of personality or farming social media likes and followers.  We believe that our role is behind the scenes as stewards and curators—our job is to support talented independent chocolate makers and to introduce them to a larger family of chocolate lovers around the globe.  In this way, it seemed irrelevant who we are or where we’re from.

Our perspective on this has evolved since we were forced to flee Kyiv, Ukraine last week.  Our family has witnessed Russia’s invasion first-hand.  Sadly, our daughter (along with millions of our country’s children) has been through things that no child should ever have to experience. 

Shortly after the first artillery shells were fired, though, many of you reached out with heartwarming generosity and concern for our family.  You made it clear that, though Hello Chocolate may be what brought us together, you care about us as people.  Just as we were seeing the worst of humankind, your messages of kindness have been renewing our faith in humanity.  We will be forever grateful for this outpouring of love and hope.

I’m happy to provide a brief update that Nina and our daughter Varya, together with Nina’s mother, left Ukraine early last Saturday.  After a bit of a journey, they are now staying with our dear friends at Beau Cacao.  It was a difficult decision to part, but in the end, we agreed that there are worse fates than being a refugee at your favorite chocolate shop in the French Alps.

I am currently in Odessa where I have been splitting my time helping our local defensive units prepare and working with Hello Chocolate’s operational teams in Singapore and the US.  I had been away from Ukraine for enough years that I had forgotten how epically stoic our citizens can be.  I am now immersed in this daily and, while I aspire to it, I am also reminded that “Just because they carry it well doesn't mean it isn't heavy.”

As for Hello Chocolate, our operations teams have been doing a fantastic job keeping the machine running.  While so many in Ukraine have had to leave their jobs and livelihoods behind, we feel incredibly fortunate for our own situation.  Starting yesterday, we have committed to providing a quarter of our future proceeds, to the support of other displaced Ukrainian families, mostly through the continuity of the food supply chain here in Odessa. Because this is what we know and what we’re passionate about. I personally work directly with the professional veterans of the volunteer movement here in Ukraine. This guarantees that all help will reach their recipients as fast as it can only be possible.     

While I think some of our most difficult days are ahead of us, I also believe we will see peace soon.  I know the odds.  I’m reminded of them everyday.  But I have to believe this will end, just as I have to believe I will see my family again.  In the meantime, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your continued kind words, thoughts, and deeds.  Slava Ukraini! 

Dima Minkov, Hello Chocolate.

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