As I have aged, my taste buds have massively changed and I now appreciate really intense flavours. For example, I am partial to a glass of red wine, espresso coffee and very dark bitter chocolate. A few years ago I watched a compelling documentary about Willie Harcourt-Cooze who is a British based chocolatier. Fascinatingly he relocated to Venezuela and planted several Cacao trees, which he harvested to make Cacao bars for the locals. Subsequently he moved back to Devon, bought some vintage machinery and now manufactures a range of high quality chocolate bars (under the label Willie’s Cacao).

I have always appreciated fine chocolate but in my opinion Willie Harcourt-Cooze has taken it to a higher level. The texture, depth, complexity, aroma and richness was totally different to anything I had ever encountered before. Ultimately this gastronomic experience really ignited my passion for high quality chocolate that uses pure cacao and no artificial ingredients. Fortunately, there are several amazing chocolatiers that share the same principles and values as Willie. If you are willing to spend a little bit extra you can buy something completely artisan and handcrafted.

Here are some of the most exciting and innovative Australian craft food producers that are really pushing the boundaries when it comes to the art of fine chocolate making.

Coco Chocolate

Coco Chocolate is an exclusive craft chocolate company situated in the glorious location of Sydney Harbour. The business was established by Rebecca Kerswell who trained in Europe as a chocolatier. All of their products are manufactured from the highest quality ingredients and the company is a member of ACO (Australian Certified Organic). Some of the flavor combinations like Haggis Spices, Orange, Lemon & Geranium, Rose & Black Pepper are totally unique. However, the balance, texture and intensity is perfect and absolutely delicious.

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://cocochocolate.com.au

Chow Cacao

Chow Cacao is an exclusive hand crafted chocolate maker located in the heart of Byron Bay, New South Wales. The company is the brainchild of Trudy Cockroft and Wilhelm Heringer who both share a passion for high quality gourmet food. Even though each bar is only 37grams, the taste is exceptionally rich and intense. They are also crammed full of antioxidants, magnesium and essential minerals. All of the flavours are delightful but my personal favourite is the totally decadent Peanut Butter Slab.

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://www.chowcacao.com.au

Bright Chocolate

Bright Chocolate are a small boutique chocolate manufacturer based in Bright, Victoria, Australia. The company handcrafts its products in small batches from an old brick stable using specialist machinery. The result is a truly delightful extravagant bean to bar chocolate that is designed for the discerning. I tasted several of their single origin bars that have a sophisticated robust taste and smooth texture. Like a glass of fine red wine, these sublime treats need to be consumed slowly to appreciate the complex flavours.

For more information, visit the company’s website: https://brightchocolate.com.au

Liefje Chocolate

Liefje is a premium chocolate maker located just outside Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria. Unlike mass producers, the company handcraft their products from the finest Fair Trade Peruvian organic raw cacao beans and sweeten it with Canadian maple syrup. This gives their chocolate a luxurious silky taste and velvety smooth melt in the mouth texture. The array of different flavours like almond brittle, liquorice, smoked salt, pomegranate & pepperberry, hazelnut crunch and spice trail are truly exquisite.

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://www.liefje.com.au

Beach Organics

Beach Organics is an artisan food producer based in Port Elliot, South Australia. The company was established by dynamic married couple Barry and Melanie Beach. As well as selling a huge selection of organic foods at local markets they also create the most exquisite raw chocolate. Certainly some of the flavours really tantalized my taste buds. For example, specialty varieties include Cacao Nibs, Nuts, Orange Oil & Cardamon, Shredded Coconut & Black Jungle Honey, Cinnamon and the sublime Wild Mango (featuring dehydrated fruit from Indonesia).

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://www.beachorganics.com.au

Cacao Hunters

Cacao Hunters is a unique confectionary producer with a social conscience. Colombia (where the bars are manufactured) grows some of the finest Cacao beans in the world but access for farmers has always been restricted because of the narcotics trade. Fortunately, this has now changed and the impact on the community has been enormous. Impressively the company’s “Arhuacos” variety has been recognized as the worlds number 1 craft chocolate by International Chocolate Awards. Certainly I found the dark rich mellow taste to be completely indulgent and highly addictive.

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://www.cacaohunters.com.au

Chocolate Yoga

Chocolate Yoga is slightly different than all of the other brands featured in this article. The business is owned by qualified Yoga instructor Sjha’ra Taylor and is located in Byron Bay. Essentially the company shares the same values about health and well being but combines it with Yoga. Their Sacred Mayan Ceremonial Cacao uses the highest grade of beans grown in Guatemala. As well as tasting pretty amazing it also has medicinal values that help in relaxation and meditation.

For more information, visit the company’s website: http://chocolate.yoga

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