These Local Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers Have You Covered for Valentine’s Day

What’s sexier than knowing where your cacao beans were sourced from?

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and although you probably shouldn’t care as much about this particular love-themed holiday as much as the greeting card industrial complex might prefer you to, we can all agree that February 14 at least provides a small excuse to buy something enjoyable for that significant other or, heck, maybe even yourself (practice self-care, etc.)!

And that’s where the old standby comes in: CHOCOLATE, a simple and relatively inexpensive gift that suits the occasion, whether you’re doting on a longtime beau or sobbing alone under a fleece blanket watching the most recent episode of This of Us.

There are of course many great chocolate shops in Los Angeles: the Wonka-esque Compartes Chocolates in Century City; Valerie Confections and its elegantly-packaged treats; Culver City’s ChocoVivo, which trades in immaculately-sourced cacao beans; or even that local free-sample classic See’s Candies. But if you’re interested in gifting that “special friend your mom keeps asking about” something from the city’s more specialized craft chocolate producers, our blossoming bean-to-bar chocolate scene has plenty to offer (you can read more about L.A.’s bean-to-bar movement in this feature from our Dec. 2016 issue).

We asked Megan Giller, author of the fantastic, recently released book Bean to Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution to share some of her favorite chocolate bars around Los Angeles. Most of these bars retails for around $10 each, and you can find them at numerous retail shops across the city (visit the “Store Locator” tab on each website to view locations). If there’s a better occasion to splurge on some nice single-origin bars, learn about the chocolate-making craft, and also knock out a name on that pesky V-Day gift list, we’ve yet to think of it.

Bar Au Chocolat

Where: Manhattan Beach
Year Founded: 2010
Founder: Nicole Trutanich
Megan’s Pick:  “I love Bar Au Chocolat’s 70 percent single-origin Madagascar bar. Cocoa beans from Madagascar are especially fruity and bright, and it’s a surprise to taste those flavors in chocolate. Maker Nicole Trutanich expertly balances those notes for a distinctive two-ingredient bar. (It’s also worth getting her roasted cocoa nibs from Madagascar, since high-quality nibs are hard to find. I use them in everything, from brownies to smoothies.”

LetterPress Chocolates

Where: Beverlywood
Year Founded: 2014
Founder: David and Corey Menkes
Megan’s Pick: “LetterPress Chocolates’ 70 percent single-origin Amazonas, Venezuela, bar blows me away every time. Venezuela is known for its nutty, delicate cocoa, but sadly, not that many American bean-to-bar makers are using it. This bar is a chocolate lover’s dream.”

Parliament Chocolate

Where: Redlands
Year Founded: 2013
Founder: Ryan and Cassi Berk
Megan’s Pick: “I can’t get enough of Parliament Chocolate’s single-origin Bolivia bar, made from cocoa that grows wild in the Alto Beni area. Its umami, savory notes mix with dried fruit flavors to create a truly special experience.”

RELATED: The Rise of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making in L.A.

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