search out chocolate curators wherever you go

In honour of World Chocolate Day on July 7th, I thought I’d write a post sharing my experience at the most incredible chocolate shop I’ve visited (to date!), reminding you of a couple other terrific chocolate stores I’ve written about in the past, and encouraging you to seek out chocolate resellers wherever and whenever you travel. Chocolate resellers are actually chocolate curators who seek out the best chocolate they have encountered from around the world and sell it from within their physical and online stores.

chocolate-curators

Just some of the 1,100 types of chocolate bars and con sections you will find at Chocolate Covered in San Francisco.

When I was so near San Francisco in April while visiting the International Chocolate Festival in San Mateo, California, in April, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Jack Epstein, the colourful owner of Chocolate Covered sweets & gifts in the Noe Valley neighbourhood of San Francisco. Jack sells chocolate from more than 100 chocolate makers, and has more than 1,100 different types of chocolate creations in his shop. Talk about being a kid in a candy store! This is the ultimate chocolate shop for anyone who loves the best quality chocolate and the unique flavours and styles it comes in.

chocolate-curators

Jack Epstein, owner of Chocolate Covered, shows us one of his handmade Cyanotype gift boxes.

From the outside, the shop doesn’t look like much. It’s small and lacks the sophistication you expect in a high-end chocolate shop. But once you walk in the door and begin recognizing products from the best of the best from around the world, you know you’ve struck gold and will be grateful you made the effort to seek out this filled-to-the-rafters reseller of the finest chocolate on the planet. He doesn’t sell brands that are sold and discounted via wholesalers such as Whole Foods, but instead, seeks out smaller brands that most people may not have heard of, but are so worth checking out.

chocolate-curators

Chocolate Covered is located in the funky neighbourhood of Noe Valley in San Francisco.

But Jack doesn’t stop at selling chocolate. He also creates and sells handmade Cyanotype Photoprint gift boxes, an ancient process dating back to 1842 that uses an ultra-violet light bulb to transfer custom blue images onto handcrafted tin boxes. Most of the boxes feature San Francisco streets and sites, but Jack will print just about anything on a box that a customer orders, from old print photos to your favourite iPhone image.

I hope you someday find your way to visit Jack at Chocolate Covered, where I bought this gorgeously wrapped bar from France made from Cuban cocoa. I’ll be taking it to Cuba with me to enjoy as I celebrate World Chocolate Day while investigating the world of Cuban cacao and chocolate. Where will you be celebrating World Chocolate Day, and what kind of chocolate will you be eating?

chocolate-curators

Imagine purchasing French-made chocolate created from Cuban cocoa beans while visiting San Francisco in the US! Chocolate truly is a product that represents virtually every part of the world.

If you’re in Canada, you may recall two terrific chocolate curators I previously introduced you to: JoJo CoCo located near Ottawa, Canada, is featured in this post along with one of my favourite Canadian chocolate makers. And The Candy Bar in Toronto is another terrific shop where you will meet Paola, a chocolate curator with a terrific smile.

I promise to continue my quest for the most amazing chocolate shops of the world. If you know of one that I absolutely must check out, please do tell! And enjoy your chocolate. On World Chocolate Day and always.

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.

32 Responses

  1. Happy World Chocolate Day and all the best in your continued quest to find and write about the world’s best chocolate. Enjoy Cuba!

    • Thanks, Debbie. I’ve been to Cuba a couple of times before and loved it. But this time, it will be a completely different away-from-resorts experience. So I hope to discover the authentic Cuba and learn much about its world of cocoa.

  2. Maryanne ignaszewski says:

    What a find in San Francisco! Good on you. And what a talented fellow, making those gift boxes.

  3. Margaret Anne Fehr says:

    A fascinating read, Doreen. Glad to be reminded of the Candy Bar in TO. Planning to take in the Banksy exhibit and will try to visit the CB as well.

  4. Kemkem
    Twitter:
    says:

    Happy World Chocolate Day. Bet it will be very pleasurable in Cuba. Enjoy! :-). I will gladly eat some chocolate tomorrow then!

  5. Linda Paul
    Twitter:
    says:

    Jack really does look like an overgrown kid in a candy store. I love that he makes his own cyanotype boxes. I took a class about making cyanotype prints a few years ago and it was really fun.

  6. I’ll have to get to Frisco shop one day when the US gets back to normal. As for the Candy Bar, I had a great experience there the other day. A dear friend had a death in the family so in lieu of flowers, Paola organized a selection of Canadian chocolate to send to her. It was there overnight for a minimal shipping and free ice (it was extremely hot in Ontario this week).

    • That is awesome service, Virginia. And yes, I bet many of us would prefer to receive a bouquet of delicious chocolate instead of (or in addition to flowers) any day. Cheers to you, and thx again for introducing me to The Candy Bar and Paola.

  7. Beverly says:

    The detailed pictures featured on the chocolate bar wrappers are delightful. Exploring the world of chocolate seems to be a happy experience for the most part. Your travel posts introduce your readers to the world of chocolate which is a world they might not have known about before reading posts. Thanks.

    • Thx for sharing your thoughts, Bev. Indeed … the world of chocolate is a happy one! Say “chocolate” or a variation of it in any language, and people will smile the world over. And yes, the wrappers on some chocolate bars are in themselves, works of art!

  8. Jackie Smith
    Twitter:
    says:

    Can’t think of a better day to celebrate than World Chocolate Day! And what a nice tribute to it!

  9. Tom Bartel
    Twitter:
    says:

    You know, Doreen, I just love and envy the niche you’ve carved out here. I pity all the Americans who have never traveled to some great locations like you have where you can find real delicious chocolate. I can’t believe how many think Hershey’s is even edible.

    • Hi, Tom, and thx for your comment. Don’t knock Hershey’s TOO hard! They now produce artisanal chocolate under the Scharffenberger an it is quite good. And they also have their “Hershey Gold” bar which is pretty darn good. But for the most part, my focus is on small artisanal chocolate makers who are doing cool things with chocolate, and on the cocoa growers who grow the source product. I feel very fortunate to have carved out this incredible niche for myself. Thx for being along for the ride. 🙂

  10. Shweta
    Twitter:
    says:

    Ah! I wish I had read this post before my trip to SF last month. I would have loved to visit Chocolate Covered. I did go to a fantastic chocolate shop in Mission district there – Dandelion. Their dark chcoclate bars and thick drinking chocolate served in the cafe was divine!

  11. Chocolate Covered looks like a great shop – I love the idea of those personalised tins! Hope you have a great time in Cuba.

  12. Carol
    Twitter:
    says:

    World Chocolate Day passed and I had my favorite chocolate rice for breakfast! I will be in San Francisco the first week of September and I will look for Jack and his Chocolate Covered!

  13. Claire says:

    Happy World Chocolate Day! It is amazing that there are so many different types of chocolate in the small quaint shop that you introduced!! The Cyanotype Photoprint gift boxes sure looks interesting! Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  14. Kavita Favelle
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love great chocolate, particularly that made from bean-to-bar by the producer, who is also able to confirm that they pay fair prices to farmers and support ethical trade. It looks like this is a great stop to make for chocolate lovers who want to try many different brands.

  15. Lori
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this fabulous gem of a chocolate shop! I love finding these little hidden places that specialize in unique foods, especially chocolates. Have a fabulous visit to Cuba!

  16. Shaily
    Twitter:
    says:

    Wow! 1,100 types of chocolate bars? That’s incredible! The shop looks like a chocolate lover’s paradise. I would love to try some of these yummy bars. Great to know the curator collaborates with smaller brands that are worth trying. The handmade Cyanotype gift box looks lovely. I’m craving for chocolate now. 🙂

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