Top 5 Dark Chocolate Bars

We already know that dark chocolate is good for you. Now, thanks to the “trained panelists” (what are they, monkeys?) at Consumer Reports, we have a list of their picks of the best dark chocolate bars on the market. Their #1 pick is a bit surprising: Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s Extra Dark. Really? Hershey’s?

The top five:

  1. Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s Extra Dark
  2. Lindt Excellence Extra Fine Dark
  3. Chocolove Organic Dark
  4. Valrhona Le Noir Amer Dark Bittersweet
  5. Scharffen Berger Semisweet Pure Dark

The worst of the bars they tested is Newman’s Own Organics Sweet Dark, which you eat at your own peril. Click here to see the full list.

True chocolate lovers may want to skip ahead to a real chocolate review website, seventypercent.com, which has reviews of some of the bars mentioned by Consumer Reports, as well as dozens of other fancy-schmancy versions.

Resources: www.seventypercent.com

Dark chocolate, Ratings [Consumer Reports]

(Photo: SpooSpa)

Comments

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  1. homerjay says:

    Dark chocolate is nasty and bitter. Give my paltry american pallette milk chocolate anyday.

  2. QuirkyRachel says:

    How do you decide on the best chocolate? I love dark chocolate (my favorites are those with 71%), but I think it’s a taste thing because, you know, it’s food. I agree with some choices but not others (and yes, Scharffen Berger rocks!)

  3. alicetheowl says:

    The best chocolate I’ve ever tasted is the Endangered Species Black Panther bar. It’s a sometime treat, and I stretch out that one bar over DAYS, if I can.

    That website rates it as “mediocre.” Now I have a bunch of hard-to-find chocolate on my “to-try” list.

    Joy.

  4. Sian says:

    Criminally, they didn’t include the Lindt 65% Madagascar, which is one of the yummiest things I’ve ever put in my face.

    Hershey’s? Really? I’ve tried the Cacao Reserve. MEH. waxy and gritty.

  5. Tallanvor says:

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s all a matter of individual preference. Eat the chocolate you like the best, and who cares what anyone else things.

  6. marike says:

    I used to hate dark chocolate as a kid. Then one day, 10 years later, I couldn’t stand milk chocolate and dark chocolate suddenly tasted soooo good. The only milk chocolate I’ll eat is Lindt and it has to be in one of those yummy chocolate balls with the ooooh so yumminess in the center…stick it in the fridge and let it melt in your mouth on a summer day…sooo goooooddddd.

    I’m an Endangered Species/Dagoba/Chocolove fan. Actually, the only dark chocolate I don’t care for is Hershey’s dark chocolates – it’s got a peculiar taste that I don’t find appealing and only Hershey’s dark chocolate has it. Starbucks’ dark chocolate isn’t bad either, surprisingly, or maybe I was just hungry the day I ate it.

  7. alicetheowl says:

    @marike: For me, it’s the gritty texture. Hershey’s chocolate always has this texture that reminds me of chewing on sand. It’s not evocative of a smooth, repeatable chocolate experience.

  8. humorbot says:

    Boy is that ever suspect. I’m in the middle of launching a fine chocolates business and I’ve got a obsessively annotated spreadsheet full of tasting notes on just shy of 100 different bars from various producers. That Hershey’s Cacao Reserve stuff is squarely middle of the road, as is Chocolove. Not that any self-respecting chocolatier would be caught dead using Hershey’s products anyway.

    Valrhona is typically higher-end and very reliable, but so far Amedei from Tuscany is the most astonishing dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Theo, out of Seattle, is a very close second, and much of their stuff is organic and/or fair trade, not to mention free of the usual spate of additives like lecithin and vanilla. Very purist. Bonnat from France is also a winning high-end, additive-free producer.

    If you’re curious about varietal and hard-to-find chocolate bars, check out Chocosphere.

  9. Caprica Six says:

    @alicetheowl: how can you stretch a chocolate bar over days? How about a few minutes :)

  10. ppiddyp says:

    Hershey’s owns both Scharffen Berger and Dagoba now, so I wouldn’t make such blanket statements about their products. :)

  11. MeOhMy says:

    As with a lot of other things, I think the chocolate “afficionados” convince themselves that a commonly available brand like Hershey’s is just too pedestrian to possibly be any good at all, let alone comparable to “designer” chocolate.

  12. humorbot says:

    @PatrickAustin: Yeah, true. And I’ve tasted them both. Dagoba beats Scharffenberger IMHO, but that’s sort of beside the point. They function as entirely independent entities and Hershey’s has supposedly sworn not to influence their production methods in any way. However, in the interest of running a conscious business and choosing suppliers who are ostensibly doing the least damage to the planet, it’s tough to purchase either Dagoba or Scharffenberger.

    Purely politics, I know, and chocolate in general is one of the most problematic agricultural products on earth in terms of treatment of labor and the environment, regardless of producer. … Sorry, I… think about this stuff a lot…

  13. alicetheowl says:

    @munlawin: Willpower. Sheer, unadulterated willpower.

    I break off a “row” of chocolate at a time, which comes in three chunks. The first chunk gets devoured. The second one, I savor, letting it melt on my tongue. The third, I do a combination of the two, savoring it until I MUST bite.

    Then, for a few hours, I savor the taste of chocolate still clinging to my mouth (and that stuff clings for HOURS). When I first start craving more, I drink water to stop reminding myself of it, then I snack on something else, preferably healthy. Or I go eat lunch or dinner or whatever.

    Only once I can’t stand it anymore do I repeat this process.

    Done properly, it lasts me about 18 hours.

  14. e10 says:

    Lake Champlain makes, without question, the best chocolate in the US. Close second is Cocoa Bella. Lake Champlain is available at Whole Foods. I also recommend their 5-star bars. And for all your chocolate (and candy) reading I urge you to read “Candy Freak” by Steve Almond. He goes on a chocolate and candy tour of confectionary Americana. Valo-milk, Goo goo, Spudbars, etc.

  15. abz_zeus says:

    There is Lindt and there is Lindt – one is french and one is Swiss (plus the German factory). The French I find is inferior to the Swiss/German Factories. This is especially true for the milk bars.
    As to Feodora – German and 50% more expensive than Lindt, it again depends on which range you go for! One I love One I can’t stand.

    Horses for courses

  16. gibsonic says:

    this thread is just cruel. stuck here without any way to get chocolate.

    bookmarked for later though :)

  17. Mom2Talavera says:

    IMHO,Green and Blacks dark chocolate is the best.

  18. wobudong says:

    Chocolate….

  19. queen_elvis says:

    I’d rather see Consumer Reports review stuff that costs more than $2 a pop. I don’t have much problem with balancing price vs. quality in chocolate, but it’s a bigger deal when buying a car.

  20. infinitysnake says:

    @Troy F.: No, it’s because hershey’s has consistently put out a nasty, bitter, gritty, inedible chocolate bar.

  21. Moneypenny says:

    Another good chocolate review site is http://www.chocoblog.com

  22. allstarecho says:

    I don’t need no supposed expert telling me what I like. To me, Ghirardelli dark chocolate is the best, followed by Dove. But that’s to me. It’s what I like, and that’s what it’s all about, not what the “experts” like.

  23. Chicago7 says:

    I don’t know how they are evaluating on in this case, but with Consumer Reports, you HAVE to find out what they evaluated on.

    An example: I was going to buy a sports car and they evaluated sports cars and downgraded them if they didn’t have a back seat. What? Who needs a back seat in a sports car? It was big downgrade, too. The car got high ratings in almost every other category and yet was rated almost last because it didn’t have a back seat.

  24. Mr. Gunn says:

    Glad to see that the hucksters at Noka chocolate didn’t make the list anywhere.

  25. Valerae says:

    I can’t believe Hershey’s Cacao Reserve tops the list, there is almost nothing good about it. Newman’s Own Organics is actually pretty good. It haz a flavor, but it beats Hershey’s any day.

    I also agree- Endangered Species is excellent.

  26. bohemian says:

    Hershey is gross. I’m not being a snob, I don’t like the taste. It is sort of acidic and burns the back of my throat.

    Vosges bars are pretty good. a. korkunov chocolate bars are good. Valrhona are good too. I think some of it boils down to personal tastes. But Hersheys?
    How much did they pay CR for the hat tip?

  27. Hoss says:

    The products reviewed are mass produced and not very special. My particular favorite is “Golden Tree Kingsbite” produced in Ghana. It’s such a pure chocolate that you could let it sit in the sun and it will not melt.

  28. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Aldi sells Moser-Roth dark chocolate, 70% cocoa for $1.49 for a 4.1 oz [125 grams] package.
    Made in Germany for them.

  29. Clobberella says:

    Bleh, screw Hershey’s. The 65% they’re so in love with has milk and milk fat. Not to be a chocolate snob but I really don’t consider anything with milk in it to be dark chocolate. I like my chocolate a little bitter and not so sweet. Lindt 85% is my favorite by far.

  30. Dustbunny says:

    As a longtime chocolate connoisseur, I vote for Trader Joe’s Organic Dark Chocolate Truffle bar. Mmmmm…excellent rich taste with an elusive hint of spiciness. In fact, I may have to have a medicinal taste right now.

  31. Onouris says:

    Mmmm I can’t be doing with high percentage chocolate.

    American chocolate as a whole, though. Generally not good. Some good stuff about though.

  32. theFatMan says:

    As was said by another chocolate lover, “Hershey’s tastes like eating wax.”
    Perhaps wax might even taste better.
    The only really good chocolates are from Europe.
    Those from England and Switzerland being my favorites.

  33. Crazytree says:

    if they didn’t use Bonnat, then that list is WORTHLESS.

  34. karmaghost says:

    I think you’d be surprised to find that Hershey’s is actually a pretty high quality chocolate.

  35. TheAdvocate says:

    As far as the other chocolate ratings sites, and maybe even CR because I couldn’t find their methodology, if the reviewers weren’t blindfolded, and the study not double-blind, then the ratings are pretty much worthless. Packaging will do more to sway opinion of quality than the actual differences between products.

  36. threlkelded says:

    Oh, Chocolove!

    What’s not to love about high quality chocolate with a love poem under the wrapper?

    I especially love their dark chocolate with ginger and dark chocolate with cherries and chilies.

  37. shatbox says:

    FYI- Hershey just bought Scharffen Berger.

  38. embean says:

    Hmm. I work for Godiva, and I don’t think it’s particularly “excellent” chocolate either, but it’s way better than Hershey’s or Lindt. First of all, 65% is barely dark chocolate. I don’t know how they call it extra dark. I get lots of people who come in and think that dark chocolate is some elixir of life, but its all just an excuse to eat the stuff, and it still can be bad for you. You can get the same health benefits by eating other things. Hershey’s, I can’t see them using a high enough quality of cocoa to make a difference. In my opinion, Lindt is always extremely chalky, and their bars sometimes go really high. In my opinion, a well-done mid-80 is the limit. Anything beyond that is bound to be powdery. People don’t understand that there has to still be “room” for the other ingredients. I’ve never heard of the other 3 bars, though. At Godiva we have little 72% squares and many people use them to ration out their daily chocolate intake, but I think it’s just silly…

  39. Jean Naimard says:

    Everytime I picked a Hershey chocolate bar, and I glance at the ingredients, I never fail to be impressed at how they will not always dump ooodles of chemicals.

    They really oughta play the “All Natural” marketing card…

  40. asherchang says:

    What? The bar of Hershey’s new dark chocolate that I bought was all soft and milky, and I could’ve sworn I remembered that on the ingredients list it said they treated it with alkali.

  41. oneswellfoop says:

    Try Amani, the Spanish chocolate maker. For many years Valhrona has been considered to have the best chocolate in the world, produced from a very specific region, located somewhere I can’t rememeber. Valhrona payed the natives that grew and picked the beans basically nothing, and they lived in mud huts along with the level of amenities that that implies.
    Amani came in and said “sell US your chocolate instead, we will build you schools and housing, give you running water and bring you out of the stone age”. So now Valhrona does not gets the best chocolate in the world to make their bars with, Amani does, and they helped some people while they were at it.

  42. hop says:

    nice timing,while checking out the conumerist just now, i was eating a couple of pieces of the ghirardelli intense dark…..it rated low according to cr….maybe the tester’s tastebuds are shot, ’cause it tasted fine to me…..

  43. Musician78 says:

    I love dark chocolate. The darker the better. Puts milk chocolate to shame.

  44. MeOhMy says:

    @infinitysnake:

    No, it’s because hershey’s has consistently put out a nasty, bitter, gritty, inedible chocolate bar.

    Case-in-point. I’d love to see a blind taste test.

  45. jkschlitz says:

    Hershey’s dark is far from good, but it’s much better than their milk chocolate, which has a slight vomit-like flavor to me. I can’t eat it. Nestle is the best “common” chocolate in my opinion. It’s nothing compared to Dove and Ghirardelli though. Mmm. Now I want some.

  46. synergy says:

    Gee I figured out the #1 just by going down to the Walgreens and looking at the ingredients and whatnot on the package of all the dark chocolate candies. I need to go work at CR.

  47. dix99 says:

    I have never tasted such rubbish as Hersheys & all the other Waxxy bars that are made in the US. I don’t each much, but when I do it’s Cadbury’s. It seems the problem for years has been that there was never much of a selection & these company’s could feed you junk. As you had nothing to compare it to, you didn’t know. Same goes for the some of the tasteless beers that’s on the shelf.

  48. Neeron says:

    I found a Dove Organic Dark Chocolate bar with Spices about 2 months ago. The problem is I can no longer find it. It was WONDERFUL. It was very smooth and had a bit of a hot pepper spice to it. I have emailed Dove asking where I could get it.
    I’m new to this site,& I have been reading your comments and would love to try some of the other dark chocolates, but I do not know where to find them as I have never heard of them. I live in Jacksonville Florida, anyone know where I would find any of the good chocolates here?