Best Chocolate Subscription Boxes of 2019 - A Year in Review

Best Chocolate Subscription Box Year in Review

In 2019, we had so much fun bringing all the best chocolate from around the world together to build our perfectly balanced chocolate subscription boxes. Each month meant a brand-new chocolate subscription box filled with carefully selected chocolate bars from some of the finest craft chocolate makers in the world.

From bars made with French-lineage beans harvested in Vietnam to chocolate crafted from beans from private plantations in Madagascar, we've sent out the best of every kind of craft chocolate imaginable. Whether you're a seasoned chocolate lover or just beginning your first delicious steps into appreciating the textured flavors of craft chocolate, consider this your edible guide to a years' worth of blissful tasting.

We don't necessarily like to play favorites (because it's just so hard to pick the best box), but there was no way we could let 2019 come to a close without nominating our favorite boxes of the year. In no particular order, here is a list of our favorite chocolate subscription boxes of the year.

Table of Contents

January's Chocolate Subscription Box

We started the year off with a chocolate subscription box full of some of our favorite makers - Videri, Pump Street, Brasstown, Marou, and Dick Taylor.  Some of our favorite pairings included sampling a Pump Street Sourdough and Sea Salt bar with a Beck's Premier Light Beer as well as a Brasstown dark chocolate bar with a glass of Chardonnay.  Here is a list of bars and tasting notes from our January Chocoholic Chocolate subscription box.

 

Bar #1: Pump Street - Sourdough & Sea Salt 66%
Maker: Pump Street Chocolate
Place of Production: Suffolk, England
Origin: Ecuador

Pump Street's Sourdough & Sea Salt 66% packs a powerful collaboration of crunchy sourdough and smooth dark chocolate flavor. Ecuadorian chocolate is known as the chocolate for adventurous palates; it has the spicy kick that beans from the area are known for and a bit of a grassy, nutty finish. This bar highlights the uniqueness of the cacao with the pungent crisp of sourdough crumbs and a dash of sea salt. The fermented bread and fermented fruit seed (cacao) don't just marry—they lift each other up as the perfect couple should.

Pairings: This bar is intense all on its own, but if you choose to pair it with a drink, try something mild, like a Beck's Premier Light Beer or a really light red wine like a glass of Lambrusco di Sorbara.


Bar #2: Brasstown - Sea Salt 62%
Maker: Brasstown Craft Chocolate
Place of Production: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Origin: South America

Pull together darkness and light, yin and yang, and you get a duality that just works, and that's what happens with the sweetly bitter South American cacao and tongue-tickling sharpness of sea salt. This Brasstown Bar is one that gives you the most impressive blend of chocolate flavor notes since the beans come from different sources across South America. Pure cocoa flavors with hints of smoky tobacco, floral, and nutty undertones—YUM!

Pairings: This Brasstown chocolate bar is incorporated with Chardonnay oak-smoked sea salt, which makes it a natural pairing with a glass of chilled Chardonnay.


Bar #3: Videri - Classic Dark 70%
Maker: Videri Chocolate Factory
Place of Production: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Origin: Ecuador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic

Classic Dark 70% from the Videri Chocolate Factory is the quintessentially classic example of dark chocolate. The roasted cocoa nibs used to make this bar are sourced from three different places, so you get a tantalizing collaboration of worldly flavor that is well-balanced, smooth, and aptly sweet.  Fruity and nutty, this bar can only be described as perfectly rich and velvety delicious.

Pairings: Simply made and free of bitters, this bar marries well with fruit and pungently sharp cheeses. Red wine of your choosing also goes well with Videri Classic Dark.


Bar #4: Marou - Ben Tre 78%
Maker: Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat
Place of Production: Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Origin: Vietnam

Described as exotic and complex, the Ben Tre 78% chocolate bar is one of those bars that takes you on a journey as the different flavor notes settle into your tongue. Cacao trees were originally brought to Vietnam by the French, but trees grown here yield seeds with their own unique flavor profiles. Shade-grown cacao beans from uncharted regions of Vietnam along the Mekong River are used to create a chocolate that is reminiscent of notorious French bars but with a telltale Vietnamese attitude. Low-acidity gives you that tempting sweetness dark chocolate is known for without the bitter finishes.

Pairings: The simple elegance of the Ben Tre 78% chocolate bar steps in line with full-bodied spirits like single-malt scotch and aged or spiced rum.


Bar #5: Dick Taylor - Black Fig 72% Dark
Maker: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate
Place of Production: Northern California
Origin: Madagascar

Pair lightly citrusy, nutty, and fruity chocolate with rich California-grown Black Mission figs and what do you get? Dick Taylor's Black Fig 72% Dark chocolate bar. Made with cacao beans sourced from a single plantation in the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar, this chocolate contains all-organic ingredients right down to the organic cane sugar added for sweetness. Bits of chewy, sweet, sun-ripened figs are carefully woven into the mix for a final product that exudes luxury.

Pairings: This bar is amazing when paired with an Amica bean coffee blend, which boasts a natural almond flavor that mirrors that same tone in the chocolate.

 

April's Chocolate Subscription Box

April chocolate subscription box

 

Bar #1: Pump Street Mini - Jamaica 75%
Maker:  
Pump Street Chocolate
Place of Production:
 Suffolk, England
Origin:
Jamaica

Initially indescribably rich, the Pump Street Mini - Jamaica 75% chocolate bar finishes with sweet, seductive hints of fresh berries and leaves a lingering hint of honey-sweetened rum on your tongue. The mini stature of this bar is ideal for a private treat that doesn't have to be shared, and you will savor every satisfying layer of its flavor profile.

Pairings: Enjoy this dark chocolate mini treat with your morning sweetened black coffee; the flavors complement each other incredibly well.


Bar #2: Pump Street Mini - Sourdough & Sea Salt 66%
Maker: Pump Street Chocolate
Place of Production: Suffolk, England
Origin: Ecuador

Yet another favorite mini from Pump Street, the Sourdough & Sea Salt 66% Pump Street Mini packs all that unique flavor of the original bar size. Crunchy bits of sourdough crumbs paired with smoothly sweet dark chocolate—this bar settles into your mouth and you'll wonder where it's been all your life. We adored the unique collaboration so much that we knew the mini in April's chocolate subscription box was worth including because its size was perfectly satisfying.

Pairings: Light beer, light red or white wine, and mild cheese are good options with this chocolate.


Bar #3: Pump Street Mini - Madagascar Milk 58%
Maker: Pump Street Chocolate
Place of Production: Suffolk, England
Origin: Madagascar

Manufactured from cacao beans sourced purely from Akesson's Organic Estate in Madagascar, the Madagascar Milk 58% gives an unyielding whole-milk chocolate experience to satisfy any sweet tooth with tones of both almond butter and prunes. Finishing with that telltale zesty kick that Madagascar beans are prized for, this creamy milk chocolate bar leaves any chocoholic craving more with its almost-caramel sweetness.

Pairings: This chocolate bar pairs exceptionally well with apples, kiwi, and berries, which can have a combination of sweet and tart flavors.


Bar #4: Solstice - Bundibugyo 70%
Maker: Solstice Chocolate
Place of Production: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Origin: BundibugyoUganda

If you want dark chocolate with an earthy flavor profile and subtle fruity sweetness akin to blackberries or fresh figs, the Solstice Bundibugyo 70% chocolate bar delivers. Created from cacao beans grown in Bundibugyo, a farming community in Uganda, this chocolate airs on the side of bitter a bit more than sweet, but its pure flavor profile is nothing short of delectable. We loved these bars even more because Solstice uses only 100% biodegradable packing, their products are gluten-free and totally vegan.

Pairings: This bar offers a unique spicy flavor profile, so it works well with a super-sweet wine, such as a good Vintage Port or Moscato.


Bar #5: Ruket - Nicaragua 70%
Maker: Ruket
Place of Production: Sant'Agostino, Italy
Origin: Nicaragua

One of the few Italian chocolate bars included in our 2019 chocolate subscription boxes, the Ruket Nicaragua 70% dark chocolate bar did not disappoint. Incredibly smooth with a malt-like creaminess, this chocolate exudes greener notes and a slight hint of tart sweetness akin to blackberry jam. Filled with contrasting flavors due to the fermentation of the beans in large wooden vessels, this dark chocolate takes you on a flavorful journey from the moment it touches your tongue.

Pairings: You can never go wrong when pairing dark chocolate with red wine, and the smooth creaminess of this bar makes it one of the finest to pair with a good glass of red.

 

September's Chocolate Subscription Box

For our September box, we decided to select a diverse range of bars that would evoke the early Fall senses.  The bars in this box include a diverse range of dark undertones that pair well with early fall wines including Merlot and Syrah.

September Chocolate Subscription Box - Potomac Chocolate, Chocolate Conspiracy, Amedei Chocolate, and Valrhona Chocolate

Bar #1: Potomac - San Martin, Peru 70%
Maker: Potomac Chocolate
Place of Production:  Woodbridge, VA
Origin: Peru

Potomac Chocolate's San Martín, Peru 70% elevates the fruity notes of its lush origin: Peru's Amazonian Highlands. Crafted of 70% pure cacao, the beans are carefully harvested by a group of Peruvian shareholder farmers before traveling to the heart of Virginia to develop into a truly extraordinary bar under Potomac's expert chocolatiers. Tasters describe this bar as surprisingly sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with a pleasantly dry texture.

Pairings:  This bright bar is well-loved for its raisin, berry, and citrus notes, pairing well with red wines that share the same fruity characteristics, such as the affordable McManis Family Vineyards Merlot


Bar #2:  Amedei - Cru, Madagascar 70%
The Maker: Amedei Chocolate
Place of Production: Tuscany Italy
Cacao Source:  Madagascar

Amedei's 70% Cru is the perfect example of how the path to loving a particular chocolate bar begins with a thoughtful tasting. Just as wines made from specific regional grapes have hallmark flavors, so do the Madagascar-grown cocoa beans used in this bar. 

Pairings: While the menthol notes refined palates will find in this bar are entirely a consequence of bean origin (rather than, for example, added flavorings), sipping on a 2015 Sweet Sisters Late Harvest Syrah from Dutton Estate Winery will pull these notes to the forefront to enjoy them thoroughly.


Bar #3:  Valrhona - Guanaja 70%
The Maker: Valrhona Chocolate
Place of Production:  Tain-l'Hermitage, France
Origin: Honduras

Valrhona's 70% Guanaja doesn't shy away from the deep, bitter notes of chocolate, but rather encourages intrepid tasters to savor them. As the warm, aromatic notes unfold the heart of a nuanced, dark undertone punctuated by florals. 

Pairings:  A dab of Cloister Honey's Bourbon Infused Honey will help balance the taste - in moderation, of course. In the same vein, the assertive flavors of this bar also make an excellent addition to a cheese plate.


Bar #4:  Chocolate Conspiracy - Pure Dark Bar 75% Cacao
The Maker: Chocolate Conspiracy
Place of Production: Salt Lake City, UT
Origin:  Peru, Ucayali 

Chocolate Conspiracy's Pure Dark 75% was a unique inclusion in our chocolate subscription box assortment in 2019, as it incorporated not only cocoa, but raw unfiltered honey as well. Not only does this blend result in a rich, slightly sweet counterpoint to the appetizing bitter notes, it also changes the mouthfeel to a particularly appealing silky melt in the mouth. 

Pairings:  While honey works well for pairing, a sweet citrus like Hale Groves' Honeybell Oranges takes it to a new level.

 

October's Chocolate Subscription Box

We included several spooky bars to celebrate the Halloween season.  I doubt any of our subscribers gave away these bars to trick-or-treaters!  The bars in this chocolate subscription box include unique pairings with a Chocolate Bock and an assortment of nuts including cashews and low country peanuts. 

October Chocolate Subscription Box - Akesson's, Dark Bark from Taza, French Broad Sea Salt, Kluziel Chocolate, Domori chocolate

Bar #1:  Akesson - Brazil, 75% Forestero Cacao
The Maker: Akesson
Place of Production: Brazil
Origin:  Bahia, Brazil

Akesson's 75% Forestero offers a tempting melange of flavors redolent of its lush heritage: a picturesque plantation in the heart of the wild Mata Atlantica forest, which boasts an incredible range of natural biodiversity. A silver medalist in 2017's International Chocolate Awards, this unique bar is created entirely from beans sourced from the company's own plantation.

Pairings: The consistent, well-developed flavor in the finished bar is excellent when enjoyed with a stout beer, such as Samuel Adam's Chocolate Bock.


Bar #2:  Domori - Madagascar, 70% Trinitario
The Maker: Domori Chocolate
Place of Production: Turin, Italy
Origin:  Madagascar

Domori's 70% Trinitario reflects the chocolatier's approach to manufacturing: carefully, in small batches, and utilizing manual techniques over mechanical ones whenever possible. Reviewers look favorably forward to the bar's unique "snap" at first bite, which signals a truly enjoyable eating experience to come with this Italian-crafted bar.

Pairings: With notes of red fruits, this bar is excellent to savor slowly with a handful of similar fresh red berries - raspberries, strawberries, and cherries, for example - to balance the taste.


Bar #3:  Cluziel - Noir de Cacao 72%
The Maker: Michael Cluziel
Place of Production: Damville, Normandy
Origin:  South America

Cluziel's 72% Noir Dark offers an assertive, pleasantly-lingering mouthfeel with masculine notes of licorice and woods beneath a strong overlay of true cocoa flavors. Finished with a well-tempered nuance of bitterness, it's an ideal bar for chocolate fans looking to truly experience all the cocoa bean has to offer, rather than a muted, mingled, or otherwise toned-down impression.

Pairings: Oil-rich nuts like cashews or Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts are an ideal companion bite, as they extend the lingering effects.


Bar #4:  French Broad - 75% Sea Salt
The Maker: French Broad Chocolate
Place of Production: Asheville, NC
Origin:  Nicaragua

French Broad's 75% Sea Salt bar closes out the list with a singular taste sensation. In this delightful confection, the chocolatier enhances the fruity notes of their bar with the help of Bulls Bay Saltworks' craft. Gathered from the clean, balanced ocean ecosystem of a protected South Carolina bay, the salt brings in an undertone reminiscent of peanut butter into each bite.

Pairings: A handful of another South Carolina delicacy - Boiled Peanuts from Heritage Peanuts - make a well-heeled southern companion for this fan-favorite chocolate bar.

 

December's Chocolate Subscription Box

 

December Chocolate Subscription Box with bars from Dick Taylor, Potomac, Ritual Chocolate, and Fruition Chocolate

Bar #1:  Potomac - Peppermint 70%
Maker: Potomac Chocolate
Place of Production:  Woodbridge, VA
Origin: Dominican Republic

Potomac Chocolate returns to the list with their Peppermint 70% a limited-edition holiday bar that marries their sensational Dominican Republic-sourced 70% dark chocolate with pieces of heritage-crafted candy canes from Cincinnati's own Doscher's Candy. The result is a playful, lighthearted mingling of tastes that's perfect for adding a crisp note to your cold-weather enjoyment.

Pairings: Try this limited edition chocolate bar alongside a steaming cup of New York Gourmet Coffee's Chocolate Mint to amplify the exceptional mix of sweet, cool, minty, and creamy.


Bar #2:  Ritual - Ecuador 75%
Maker: Ritual Chocolate
Place of Production:  Salt Lake City, UT
Origin: Ecuador

Ritual's 75% Ecuador traces its roots back to a specific handler, as well as source-specific techniques for drying and fermenting the cocoa beans that create its foundation. While the beans originally hail from, unsurprisingly, Ecuador, the long journey has only served to make them taste more worldly - with tasting notes like graham cracker, fudge, and honey, you won't have any trouble finding enjoyable touches of sweet undertones.

Pairings: A crisp, tart Granny Smith apple from Melissa's Produce provides an excellent balance.


Bar #3:  Fruition - Colombia, Tumaco Dark 85%
Maker: Fruition Chocolate Works
Place of Production:  Shokan, NY
Origin: Columbia

Fruition's Tumaco 85% is named for its place of origin, the Tumaco region of Columbia. A well-rounded bar with a reviewer-pleasing clean mouthfeel, it won the chocolatier a silver medal in 2018's Northwest Chocolate Awards and continues to delight chocolate fans today. The tasting notes for this bar are mouthwatering all by themselves: sweet butterscotch, fruity blackberry, and even a touch of brownie for the searching palate.

Pairings: Pair with a mug of Don Pablo's Columbian Supremo coffee to highlight the growing region's tasting roots.


Bar #4:  Letterpress - Ghana, Ashanti 70% Dark
Maker: Letterpress Chocolate
Place of Production:  Los Angeles, CA
Origin: Ghana

Letterpress' Ashanti 70% takes the palate on a trip to West Africa, and the growing regions of Ghana with notes of graham cracker and rich brownie. A Bronze Medalist for the Academy of Chocolate's 2018 Awards, this bar is made more flavorful by its ethical manufacturing practices. Letterpress pays twice the commodity price for the cocoa beans it purchases from farmers, ensuring fair trade and a sustainable lifestyle for the hardworking men and women behind the beans.

Pairings: Try this bar with a glass of African-grown Painted Wolf The Den 2018 Shiraz for a good balance of fruit and earthiness.


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