It should come as no surprise that Seattle’s culture of innovation extends to the chocolate community, where Fran and Theo have been household names for years. Whether entering the world of chocolate by intention or happenstance, a devoted new group of enterprising chocolatiers have pushed the envelope in creativity, quality and sustainability—not just in the bar, but via artistic truffles, single-origin milk and energizing snacks. Here’s where to find the city’s latest and greatest in chocolate.
Flight Wine and Chocolate
Coming soon: Capitol Hill
Self-taught chocolatier Kevin Morton works a full-time job at Costco Wholesale’s corporate headquarters, is a classical clarinetist, and sells his artisan dark chocolates out of his home as a cottage food operation. Morton’s stunning, colorful chocolates ($2.50 each) evoke works of fine art or the night sky, results that belie the fact that he learned his craft by watching YouTube videos. His soon-to-launch Capitol Hill shop, Flight Wine and Chocolate (opening next spring) has some big shoes to fill: The building is on the site of the original Fran’s Chocolates production facility.
Our Pick: The design on Morton’s orange truffle looks like an artist’s rendering of an orange peel—but the orange zest and Grand Marnier ganache inside tastes like a chef’s masterpiece.
Local chocolate lovers have surely heard of Theo—after all, the organic, fair-trade chocolate company has been Seattle’s go-to spot for bean-to-bar treats since 2006. But if you haven’t been on the family-friendly factory tour in a while, it’s time to check back in. In May, Theo revamped its Factory Experience ($12 per person) to better align with your Willy Wonka dreams: using model cacao beans made by a movie studio prop department and big-screen televisions to make it easier to see what’s happening, and, of course, offering plenty of samples throughout the tour.
Our Pick: Theo stakes its reputation on the quality of its chocolate, and its pure 85% dark chocolate bar ($3.99) gives the perfect opportunity to taste that.
Bean-to-bar chocolatiers at Bellflower specialize in chocolate milk
Bellflower Chocolate Company
Ever wondered where chef-restaurateur Renee Erickson sources the chocolate for her desserts? The answer is from Bellflower Chocolate Co., a single-origin craft chocolate producer, which means it doesn’t just create treats from chocolate, but actually makes the chocolate itself. Inspired by companies like Theo, Will Dixon and Callie Neylan make the chocolate to put into their signature product: bean-to-bottle, single-origin chocolate milk ($12), which they sell out of their Queen Anne production facility and, seasonally, from The Chocolate Bike at the Queen Anne Farmers Market and other events.
Our Pick: First-timers should stick with the classic single-origin chocolate milk for a taste of the unadulterated product.
Intrigue Chocolate Co.
Bay leaf, juniper berries, hops and strawberries pepper the signature chocolate bars ($12) coming out of Intrigue owner Aaron Barthel’s kitchen. Previously, the creative botanist turned chocolatier supplied the company’s Pioneer Square tasting bar, but last year he opened a chocolate tasting bar and coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. There, in addition to the chocolate treats, you’ll find sipping chocolate and chocolate-infused pastries. (Oh, did we mention Barthel was also a baker?)
Our Pick: The guajillo chili, hibiscus, cassia cinnamon and vanilla bean bar best captures Barthel’s talent for harnessing big flavors and balancing them with the native flavor of the chocolate.
Caffeine meets chocolate at Joe Chocolate Co., in the form of beverages and snacks.
Joe Chocolate Co.
Pike Place Market
What began as a business-school project by Sam Tanner and Peter Keckemet to create an energizing trail snack has turned into Joe Chocolate Co., a caffeinated-chocolate business in the heart of Pike Place Market. Joe Chocolate’s production line, set up like that of neighboring Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, runs along the side of the shop, providing entertainment for customers. Opened last June, the factory is the first dedicated production space the chocolate company has had since it began in 2016. The factory includes a café, which offers Joe’s signature caffeinated-chocolate bark by the pound ($6) as well as in drinkable form.
Our Pick: The Joe mocha ($6) transforms Joe’s caffeinated chocolate into coffee form, making it a perfectly Seattle thing to sip while people watching from the café.