an enticing visit to the cacao bean lab of soma chocolatemaker

Canada’s largest city of Toronto is a fabulous place to seek out great chocolate. My favourite is SOMA chocolatemaker, for the quality and creative variety of their chocolate offerings, the artfulness of their eco-friendly packaging, their dedication to the environment, their respect for the chocolate industry as a way of life for everyone in the production chain, and their great online store that is currently offering free shipping in Canada (subject to a $50 minimum order) and will also ship outside the country. WOW! For chocolate lovers like me, that’s a whole lotta reasons to love SOMA Chocolate.

SOMA chocolatemaker is the brainchild of Cynthia Leung and her husband David Castellan of Toronto, who founded their unique and innovative chocolate company back in 2003.
soma-chocolate -factory
Cynthia Leung shows me the Sirocco roasting machine that SOMA purchased from Scharfenberger.
When you think SOMA Chocolate, you can choose from a wide variety of pure dark chocolate bars and truffles, chocolate confections, house-made gelato, and the best made-to-order hot chocolate on the planet.

five reasons to love SOMA chocolatemaker

  1. SOMA uses only the finest cacao beans sourced from the best cocoa producers. Cynthia told me that SOMA only uses certain origins from which they can verify that the beans they’ve ordered haven’t been switched with cheaper beans. You can truly taste the difference. Whether you’re enjoying SOMA’s single origin truffles, chocolate bars or confections, or even their made-from-scratch single origin hot chocolate, the full flavour of the cacao shines through.
  2. SOMA marries tradition with ingenuity and innovation to create exciting new flavours using tried and true heritage chocolate making equipment from around the world. That includes the German-made ruby red Sirocco roasting machine (pictured below) which SOMA purchased from Scharfenberger Chocolate of San Francisco, and a massive winnowing machine from Lindt of Switzerland.
  3. SOMA has an extensive line of chocolate products that are all of superb quality, yet are playful and equally appealing to chocolate connoisseurs as well as those looking for fun-flavoured diversions such as the Mango bar with chili lime salt, the Brown Butter Rum Bar, the Roasted White Chocolate bar, the Starry Night dark chocolate bar featuring sea salt from the Newfoundland Salt Company, and the Fiji hot chocolate topped with house-made marshmallow–just some of my personal favourites.
  4. SOMA’s product packaging are not only original works of art, but are eco-friendly, featuring only natural ingredient ink from the Toronto Ink Company Inc. Cynthia is an architect with artistic training who uses her skills to create original art for SOMA’s packaging and enticing three-dimensional shapes for the single origin truffles. David is a pastry chef who upped his chocolate game by taking chocolate making classes in California. Together, they are an an unstoppable multi-award-winning creative team.
  5. SOMA is all about sharing chocolate knowledge. They’ve done chocolate classes for large retailers like Sobey’s to help staff understand what great tasting sustainable fair-trade chocolate is all about and why it costs more than large scale commercial products. And they do tours and chocolate appreciation workshops (in non-pandemic times) for chocolate lovers. They also have a terrific website that describes their chocolate philosophy and product lineup in detail. Shipping in Canada is free right now on orders of $50 or more. Yay! You can bet I’ll be placing an order this week.
The Brown Butter Rum Bar is one of my favourite SOMA offerings. The packaging is great, the chocolate is made from Fijian cacao and it pairs really well with a fine sipping rum like Angostura 1919 Rum.

As we celebrate International Chocolate Day every year on September 13th, I hope you enjoyed some great chocolate of the world this week. And if you haven’t already, it’s never too late to expand your chocolate knowledge and further develop your chocolate palate.

I hope you do seek out SOMA chocolatemaker–definitely one of the best chocolate companies in Canada, and one of the finest artisan chocolate makers in the world. SOMA chocolate has three Toronto locations: The Distillery District is their original location. King Street West is their second location. Both of these are currently open to the public. The Cacao Bean Lab (SOMA chocolate factory) located at 71 Brock Avenue is not currently open to the public due to COVID-19. Hopefully, that will change sometime soon.

And if the name SOMA rings a bell, you may recall reading about this great Canadian chocolate maker a few years ago in this other post on my site. Enjoy!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

40 Responses

  1. Marlene says:

    Hi Doreen, thank you for sharing your sample of Soma Brown Butter Rum Bar during the Thanksgiving weekend. I too love the artistic packaging, the ‘Canada’ duck on the package face. The milk chocolate bar was creamy, with delicate flavor and is beyond what many of us have come to know about chocolate bars. It really does spoil us for any ‘average’ bars in the stores. Marlene in Gimli, Manitoba

    • Hi Marlene. Thx very much for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the Brown Butter Rum Bar. I must find out what the cocoa percentage of that bar is, as I hadn’t thought of it as milk chocolate. Though very creamy, I assumed it is the butter that is giving it that creaminess. I shall let you know! I do see that SOMA is still offering the free shipping on orders of $50 or more, so if you’re interesting in placing an order as I had done, it’s really great to not have to pay for shipping. And you’re right! Just as with wine, when we develop our palate we can’t go back to cheap brands, the same is true when we develop our palate to appreciate handcrafted artisan chocolate such as this.

  2. Janet says:

    I loved their brown butter rum bar. Delicious melt in your mouth!

  3. Janet says:

    I’d love to taste that hot chocolate. I’m sure it creates an incredible feeling in your mouth and is delicious!!!

  4. Bola says:

    Doreen, that Soma hot chocolate is calling me right now! It looks delicious.
    It’s interesting to kwow that you can taste the difference. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thx so much for your comment, Bola. Yes, the Soma made-to-order single origin hot chocolate is unquestionably, the best I’ve ever had. SO good with that gooey toasted marshmallow on top, and not sweet at all. ❤️

  5. Karen Warren says:

    It’s always good when the chocolate looks as good as it tastes – I love the idea of an artist creating chocolate!

  6. Sam says:

    Great article and very original blog. I wish you all the best in the continuation of your chocolate quest!!

  7. Slavka says:

    OMG! I have to check them out when I am in Toronto next time. Beautifully designed packaging and the wide variety, love that. I’ll go for the rum choc as well as the mango and raspberry fruit bars. mmmmmm
    Slavka recently posted…GASPÉ PENINSULA: DAY TRIP TO BONAVENTURE ISLANDMy Profile

    • Hi Slavka and thanks for your comment. I can’t recall where you live, but you can get SOMA delivered to you if you live in Canada (free shipping right now!) and in the US as well. I hope you’re managing OK with the pandemic. I do miss the opportunity to travel and also to hold my chocolate events.

  8. Margaret Fehr says:

    I’ve embarked on an intermittent fasting weight reduction program and was feeling rather disheartened by the list of foods I CAN’t eat. It’s going to be a total overall. But then, I discovered that dark chocolate is considered a healthy option but it needs to be in the 80 to 90 per cent range! I haven’t paid a visit to SOMA in TO but will be ordering from their inventory, so that’s definitely a bright spot as I tackle this challenge! Hope all is well with you as you spread the chocolate word!

    • Hi Margarita. I wish you great success in your quest for weight reduction. But definitely, high cacao chocolate is a good thing to eat, or purchase cocoa nibs to mix with your granola, yogurt, cereal or salad. They are fantastic!

  9. Yum. This post really made me hungry for good quality chocolate. I’ll be nosing around for SOMA in some of our markets–you never know when it could appear! I love how eco-minded they are.

    • Thx, RoseMary. I doubt you’ll find SOMA by accident in the US. But as I mentioned in the post, Chocolate Covered in San Fran dos carry it. Perhaps if you contact SOMA directly, they can let you know if there are other places in the US that has their delicious offerings.

  10. Lori says:

    We look forward to International Chocolate Day every year. Love what these artisans do from the wrappers, packaging to the chocolates themselves. Last year at this time we had a blast at Zotter Chocolate in southern Austria. Would love to get up north to try some of these.

    • Hi Lori. Thx for your comment. Yes, Zotter is delicious as well. I’ve used them in some of my chocolate tasting events. But I love showcasing the best of Canadian chocolate makers and chocolatiers when I get a chance, and SOMA is truly one of the best.

  11. I recall the great energy in the Bean Lab when I met you there last spring (seems like a lifetime ago). The staff seemed happy in that beautiful, light-filled space, and – for me – that’s a big plus (and why I do not buy from Amazon except in desperation). It doesn’t hurt that Soma chocolate is consistently superb. Remember our single origin hot chocolates to go?

    • Hi Virginia. I do indeed remember the glorious Fijian hot chocolate I had, and you had the Ecuadorian one. Both delish. You are so fortunate to live in Toronto where SOMA is readily available. I hope to get my order in shortly and take advantage of their offer for free shipping on some amazing chocolate creations. ❤️

  12. Doreen, we can’t argue about Canada having some great chocolate. During our last visit, we were thrilled to find such an amazing variety of tastes. We hope to make it back some day.

  13. noel morata says:

    What a gorgeous operation and the packaging on the bars and even the impressions on the chocolate are so detailed and well thought out, pretty amazing!

  14. noel says:

    What a gorgeous operation and the packaging on the bars and even the impressions on the chocolate are so detailed and well thought out, pretty amazing!

  15. Betty Jackson says:

    We were gifted a box of these chocolates and we tried to make it last a few days. That box of delightful, mouth watering chocolate only lasted 2 days and it was all gone. We loved every piece. A true gift.

  16. Linda Paul says:

    I will have to look for this brand. Your descriptions and photos made my mouth water!

  17. Beverly says:

    I love the names of the chocolate bars the company makes like the Starry Night dark chocolate bar. The name alone transports the reader to a wonderful land of imagination where wonderful things can happen. I would like to sample SOMA chocolate. If I am ever fortunate enough to visit Toronto, I hope the visit includes a stop at a SOMA chocolate location.

    • Hi Bev. Thx so much for your comment. I’m pretty sure you’ve tasted SOMA chocolate over the years here, or at Toastmasters. they are among my favourite, and I’ve often had them for tasting. I do plan to place an order and there is free shipping on right now. If you’d like me to order something for you, let me know and I can add it to my order, or if you order $50 worth you get free shipping. Being in pandemic mode, we’ve got to indulge in order to keep our spirits up!

  18. I’ve always loved the taste of SOMA chocolate but had no idea about their rigorous standards and philosophy. Great info

  19. Love Soma!!! Your pictures totally do the company justice, Cynthia and David are the sweetest people around!

    • Hi Estelle. Thx so much for taking the time to comment on my post. Greatly appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the photos that I’ve used to illustrate this incredible Canadian chocolate company. We are very proud of them.

  20. Where in Canada are they located and what does SOMA mean, if any? Sounds like really premium chocolate!!!

  21. I love SOMA chocolate. I first discovered the store in the Distillery District many years ago and was thrilled to find the King St W location a few years ago. I love the variety of products and am always looking forward to trying something new. I don’t get there very often but it’s absolutely the best place for chocolate in Toronto. Thanks for reminding me just how fantastic it is.

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