Ohio Bean-to-Bar Chocolates
When it comes to delicious and ethically sourced chocolates, these three Buckeye State artisans put care and conscience into their craft.
Few treats are more universally adored than chocolate, but we tend to relegate it to childhood indulgence or adult nostalgia. A new wave of chocolate producers are establishing this product of the cacao tree as a legitimate artisan food worthy of respect.
Bean-to-bar chocolate-makers are focused not only on creating high-quality chocolate, but also on ensuring cacao is sourced without humanitarian abuses. The phrase “bean to bar” not only indicates makers have processed their cacao all the way from bean to finished product, but also signals they have taken care to trace the source of that cacao to responsible farms. Far from the world’s cacao-growing regions, these makers are crafting seriously delicious chocolate that is available at both brick-and-mortar locations and online shops offering a full array of their products.
Rebecca Hess was a fine dining chef for nearly two decades before founding The Cleveland Chocolate Co. in 2019. She says the hours and stress of a restaurant weren’t conducive to a balanced life, but chocolate allows her to fulfill her culinary ambitions at her own pace. She has about 20 different bars available at any one time, including dark and milk chocolate bars from single origins like Haiti or Guatemala and creative white chocolate inclusion bars like Pumpkin Pie Crunch and Sweet Corn & Lime.
“I try to maximize all my years of tasting and pairing food as a chef,” says Hess. “It translates well to crafting a well-balanced chocolate bar.”
At Chocolats Latour in Cincinnati, Shalini Latour is making excellent chocolate that isn’t technically bean to bar (it’s sourced from Colombia and she crafts it into bars and confections). She is, however, incorporating local ingredients like black walnut, spice bush and sumac.
Paul Picton of Maverick Chocolate Co. in Cincinnati came to the chocolate life after a career in engineering that had him traveling the world. After he retired, the Picton family began making chocolate in their home kitchen and opened Maverick in Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market in 2014. Bars like Prohibition Milk (made with bourbon) and Espresso Dark have earned the business international recognition.
“Chocolate is about enjoying life,” says Picton. “With ours, you know it’s made locally, and it’s helping farmers around the world.”
Maverick Chocolate Co.:129 W. Elder St., Cincinnati 45202 513/381-0561; 2651 Edmondson Rd., Cincinnati 45209, 513/834-8369, maverickchocolate.com
The Cleveland Chocolate Co.: 2306 W. 17th St., Suite 4, Cleveland 44113, clevelandchocolate.co
Chocolats Latour: 4027 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati 45223. 513/591-0085, chocolatslatour.com