State Of The Chocolate – 2011

So this blog is coming up to its second birthday and I was wondering what the state of the chocolate reviews were, what I’ve reviewed most of and if there’s anything I should be doing differently? Whilst playing around with the data I thought you’ll like to see how the reviews are skewed towards the big brands which generate a spot of income and give your thoughts about which brands I should be putting more emphasis on in the future. If you have any recommendations, please email me or just a just leave a comment below (it’s a fair way down there!).

The thing is, it’s all well and good, me doing reviews of an endless stream of obscure dark chocolate bars that you can’t get in this country if people actually want to read about all sorts of chocolates from great chocolatiers that you can either buy in store here or can easily buy online. So what do you want to read about? What should I be spending money to buy? And if you’re interested, I’ve spent nearly £1,400 on buying chocolate to review over these past two years (and am 2 stone heavier for it)! Do you think I eat enough chocolate?

 


 

– By Brand –

 


Well it seems that just over 20% of the reviews that I’ve done are ones that contribute to the upkeep of this blog and pays for the chocolate that I don’t get free. I actually thought it was much larger. The third most reviewed brand – Artisan du Chocolat have never given free chocolate to review, but I still love what they do and try and keep a steady flow of their reviews as they do some really interesting stuff.

Zotter themselves and Chocolate Cafe have been as generous as they are friendly, I’ve bought some and they’ve given me, but again, I’d love to keep buying more, but Paul keeps giving me stuff to review (I’ll work out when his days off are and sneak in and buy some stuff).

Brand Reviews / Features
Hotel Chocolat 69
Thorntons 38
Artisan du Chocolat 24
Zotter 17
Chocolate Trading Co 16
Divine Chocolate 16
Paul A. Young 16
Rococo Chocolates 10
William Curley 10
Michel Cluizel 9
Valrhona 9
Demarquette 8
Patrick Roger 8
The Chocolate Cafe 8
Matcha Chocolat 7
Montezumas 7
Nestlé 7
Pralus 7
Prestat 7
Amano 6
Amedei 6
Hershey’s 6
James Chocolates 6
MyChocolateBar 6
Fudge Kitchen 5
Galler Chocolates 5
Green & Blacks 5
Lindt 5
Mars Inc. 5
Melt Chocolates 5
Neuhaus 5
Red Star Chocolate 5
Tipyn Bach 5
Chocri 4
Domori 4
Godiva 4
Mast Brothers 4
The Rabot Estate 4
Venchi 4
Amatller 3
Chocolate Craft 3
Co-Op 3
Dartmoor Chilli Farm 3
Gu Chocolates 3
Jean-Paul Hévin 3
Mr Simms Old Sweet Shoppe 3
New Tree 3
Pierre Hermé 3
Plush 3
Berry Scrumptious 2
Beschle 2
Cocoa Mountain 2
Dammenberg 2
Dolfin 2
Friis Holm 2
Grenada Chocolate Company 2
Ikea 2
Jeff de Bruges 2
Kshocolat 2
Lucky’s 2
Manufaktura Czekolady 2
Moko Chocolates 2
Monk Bar Chocolatiers 2
Orion 2
Pierre Marcolini 2
Simon Coll 2
South Devon Chilli Farm 2
Vosges 2
Wittamer 2
Terre à Terre 2
The Chocolate Cellar 2
A Quarter Of 1
Askinosie 1
Amelia Rope 1
Askinosie 1
Bernard Castelain 1
CHOC Chick 1
Chocadores 1
Chocochic 1
Chococo 1
Chocolate & Love 1
Chokolit 1
Cocoaloco 1
Cocoapod 1
Cottage Delight 1
Creative Confectionary 1
Danucci 1
Devnaa 1
Ferrero 1
Fortnum & Mason 1
Fox’s 1
Geert Vercruysse 1
Go*Do 1
Guido Gobino 1
Guylian Chocolates 1
Hachez 1
J D Gross 1
La Maison du Chocolat 1
Lauden Chocolates 1
Mauxion 1
Mr Kipling 1
Natoora 1
Niederegger 1
Original Beans 1
Original Hawaiian Chocolate 1
Patchi 1
Paul Wayne Gregory 1
Peter Paul 1
Plamil 1
Pocky 1
Pour Toi 1
Rawr 1
Reese’s 1
Ritter 1
Robineau 1
Schmerling’s 1
Seeds of Change 1
Sir Hans Sloane 1
The Chocolate Alchemist 1
The Chocolate Company 1
Vestri 1
Willies Delectable Cacao 1
The House Of Minerva 1
Stephan Dumon 1
T’a 1
Total 520

 


 

– By Country –

 


This data isn’t as accurate as I’d like. I’ve still got loads of double checking here. I stupidly included countries where I’ve bought chocolate from and where it’s made as well as where the cacao originates. But you can tell that France doesn’t actually grow cacao, but that’s where I’ve bought a load of bars from, as well as Belgium. Venezuela is ranked high as I love Chuao and Porcelana and feel the finest cacao is grown here (in most cases), although I’ve tried some awesome Bolivian chocolate and the Ben Tre from Vietnam was similarly fantastic.

What I’d suggest is that people don’t be prejudiced about the origin of chocolate, just try it and see what you like. If you find chocolate that you don’t like then you’ve increased your knowledge, but don’t prejudge other chocolate bars from the same country of origin.

Country Reviews / Features
France 17
Belgium 15
Venezuela 14
England 13
Madagascar 13
Ecuador 11
Japan 10
Italy 9
America 8
Austria 6
Brazil 5
Dominican Republic 5
Trinidad 5
Mexico 4
Bolivia 3
Colombia 3
Ghana 3
Jamaica 3
New Zealand 3
Nicaragua 3
Peru 3
Poland 3
Scotland 3
Vietnam 3
Wales 3
Caribbean 2
Cuba 2
Germany 2
Grenada 2
Haiti 2
Hawaii 2
Indonesia 2
Korea 2
Papua New Guinea 2
Saint Lucia 2
Switzerland 2
Turkey 2
Algeria 1
Australia 1
Belize 1
Congo 1
Costa Rica 1
Finland 1
Honduras 1
Ireland 1
Lebanon 1
Malaysia 1
Panama 1
South Africa 1
Spain 1
Sweden 1
Thailand 1
USA 1
Cambodia 1
São Tomé and Príncipe 1

 


 

– Dark Chocolate Reviews –

 


As a child I was always told that the darker the chocolate or the higher the cacao content if you want to be accurate, the better the chocolate will be. Well I’ve tried the 99% Noir Infini from Michel Cluziel and I didn’t like it – it was far too bitter for my liking. Over time, I’ve bought more and more dark chocolate around the 70% to 75% level and I just feel this is my mark. The 85% Amatller Ecuador was lovely, as well as the Divine 85%.

In terms of my favourite brands, It seems that Paul A. Young and Pralus are the two brands with the most top scores whilst Amano, Pierre Hermé, Chapon, Friis Holm and Geert Vercruysse do well. The brands I seemingly don’t like are Prestat, Schmerlings, Nestle, Caderel, Sainsbury’s and Orion.

Dark Chocolate Reviews
70% Dark Chocolate 41
72% Dark Chocolate 18
60% Dark Chocolate 12
75% Dark Chocolate 12
64% Dark Chocolate 10
66% Dark Chocolate 8
52% Dark Chocolate 7
65% Dark Chocolate 6
67% Dark Chocolate 4
50% Dark Chocolate 3
68% Dark Chocolate 3
85% Dark Chocolate 3
54% Dark Chocolate 2
73% Dark Chocolate 2
74% Dark Chocolate 2
100% Dark Chocolate 1
53% Dark Chocolate 1
61% Dark Chocolate 1
69% Dark Chocolate 1
77% Dark Chocolate 1
80% Dark Chocolate 1
81% Dark Chocolate 1
99% Dark Chocolate 1
55% Dark Chocolate 1

 


 

– By Flavour –

 


It’s pretty obvious that I love chilli chocolate, but what’s shocked me is the number of caramel reviews I’ve done. When I first started reviewing chocolate I couldn’t stand caramel chocolate, but over time I’ve come to love it.

Also I can see that I’ve also gone out to try a great number of citrus chocolate, which I generally love. Apart from the Lindt Tarte Citron Meringue which was naff.

Brand Reviews / Features
Chilli 19
Caramel 16
Almond 12
Lemon 12
Raspberry 12
Coconut 11
Ginger 11
Strawberry 11
Hazelnut 10
Mint 10
Praline 10
Banana 7
Champagne 7
Coffee 7
Sea Salt 7
Cherry 6
Cinnamon 6
Nougat 6
Rum 6
Cardamom 5
Lime 5
Tea 5
Apricots 4
Fruit And Nut 4
Honey 4
Honeycomb 4
Nutmeg 4
Pistachio 4
Walnut 4
Amaretti 3
Peanuts 3
Pepper 3
Raisins 3
Wine 3
Cashews 2
Bacon 2
Blueberries 2
Cheese 2
Cocoa Nibs 2
Macadamia Nuts 2
Marshmallow 2
Orange 2
Peppermint 2
Rose 2
Whisky 2
Blackberry 1
Baileys 1
Beer 1
Blackcurrant 1
Brazil Nuts 1
Buffalo Milk 1
Butterscotch 1
Cloves 1
Cognac 1
Cranberries 1
Cream 1
Elderflower 1
Goji Berries 1
Juniper Berries 1
Lavender 1
Lemongrass 1
Lychee 1
Mango 1
Marizipan 1
Martini 1
Mole Spice 1
Mushrooms 1
Olive Oil 1
Olives 1
Peanut Butter 1
Pear 1
Pecan 1
Plum 1
Poppy Seeds 1
Prosecco 1
Saffron 1
Sheep Milk 1
Spice 1
Tequila 1
Toffee 1
Tonka 1
Vanilla 1
Violet 1
Vodka 1
Yoghurt 1

 


 

– By Rating –

 


Quite often I think that I over score chocolate, but although the vast majority are rated over 50%, I do produce negative reviews too. In general, most of what I review, and buy can be seen as being very good. Interestingly 5 of the 11 chocolate creations that are rating in the top category I’ve bought myself – there others were kindly sent for review.

Is there any bias? Well, I’d probably say there is. I wouldn’t buy naff chocolate as much as chocolate I expect to love and people wouldn’t normally send chocolate that they’d expect me to rate poorly.

Rating Reviews
75%-79% 58
70%-74% 52
80%-84% 49
85%-89% 41
65%-69% 40
60%-64% 27
55%-59% 18
90%-94% 15
50%-54% 14
40%-44% 11
95%-100% 11
Avoid 10
30%-34% 5
45%-49% 5
10%-14% 2
35%-39% 2
20%- 24% 1
25%-29% 1
5%-9% 1

 


 

– By Type –

 


I definitely have a preference for chocolate with nearly two-thirds of the bars I’ve reviewed being of that type and only reviewed 22 chocolate creations that were white chocolate. I’ve got a few in my stash to review, but I generally can’t bring myself to buy it when more often than not, I just won’t like it.

 


 

– Overview –

 


The burning question for me has always been whether or not I should review more mass-market chocolate or keep mainly to fine chocolate? There’s more traffic in the Cadbury and Nestle stuff, but, to be honest, I’m not going to subject my body to endless steams of rubbish chocolate just to increase the number of visitors here. I love fine chocolate, and I think I’ll concentrate on that. Would you agree?

Lee McCoy

I'm the editor of this blog and you can find me at my Google Profile as .

  • dani Candy

    You are doing a grand job. Keep it up, and yes leave the pulp chocolate behind. After all who would really be interested to read about ‘dairy milk’

  • Stick to your niche and what you like. Otherwise you would have to change your grading criteria if you didn’t want to just label all of those chocolates as bad.

    I would like to see a mast brothers review :)

  • Rob Hall

    There’s a shop on the Isle of Man called Davison’s which does amazing chocolates – every time I visit I bring home a box :) They do mail orders as well, so maybe they’d be worth a review? I always go for their pre-packed boxed of 16 (about £11), but they do sell them loose by weight :) http://www.davisons.co.im/

    They also do the most exquisite ice-cream, but getting that shipped over might be an issue!

  • Stick to what you enjoy most! Although at a stone a year gain this could prove costly in many ways as the years add up! Maybe fine diet chocolate? ;)

    The lovely normal curve of your marking scheme is making me jealous that I don’t give out scores, just purely so I could play with the stats. if anything it seems you should give out more scores in the 90-94% brackets!!

    Here’s to many more chocolate eating years.

  • Dom

    Great work Lee. That’s lots more analysis than I’ve ever done!

    I agree concentrating on the fine stuff is the way to go. :)

  • I think what you do is great, I am also a fellow chocolate writer and I also enjoy the finer chocolates, I don’t think there is any point subjecting your body to endless chocolate pumped full of sugar such as Cadburys, Nestle, Mars etc if you dont even like it! Love your writing, keep it up fellow chocolate reviewer! :D

  • Zeus

    Totally agree. Mass market chocolate is cheap enough that it doesn’t require a review, you can just buy it and try it. And probably loathe it. Love the site, have been reading for hours!