The Northwest takes flavor to a whole new level, and that’s flavor with a capital ‘C.’
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I know what you’re thinking. Flavor doesn’t start with a ‘C’. But you see, the Northwest is known for so many amazing treats that start with the letter ‘C’:
- Coffee is a big one, especially with the original Starbucks situated in Seattle
- Cannabis is another one, as Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational weed
- Craft beer is a fun commodity, as cities like Portland and Spokane seem to have more breweries per square mile than even coffee shops
- Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t add chocolate to this list
The best chocolate in the Pacific Northwest is a combination of PNW vibes: bold, unique, and adventurous. If you’re looking for some excellent holiday gifts or just want to treat yourself, shop local with these delicious Pacific Northwest-made chocolates.
The Best Chocolate in the Pacific Northwest and Made in the PNW
I was recently chatting with a friend who lives out of state, who noted that the quality of chocolate on the east coast where he recently moved doesn’t taste the same as the artisan-level chocolate we know and love in the Northwest.
Why is this? Perhaps it’s because of our region’s strong agriculture and access to locally-made goods.
Maybe it’s because our region specializes in making small batches of things, and then labeling them “craft.”
Either way, my friend was curious when I would be willing to send some good chocolates in their direction and I am happy to oblige.
So, I, Christine with a capital ‘C,’ have endeavored to find the best chocolates in the Northwest. I ordered and sampled chocolate from chocolatiers around the region, specifically focusing on small family businesses.
While this isn’t an actual competition, I am definitely and unofficially assigning awards to each of these incredible businesses.
From Spokane to Portland, here are the best chocolates in the Northwest:
Spokane’s Best Chocolate
Spokane had two chocolatiers that stood out above the rest.
I have fond childhood memories of going Christmas shopping with my dad and stopping at these places to pick out chocolates for my mom’s and sisters’ stockings. It had been years since I had tasted chocolates from either of these shops and it made them so much sweeter when testing their chocolate for these articles.
I am happy to say that these are the best chocolate shops in Spokane, Wash.
Spokandy – Best Chocolate Mints and Best Truffle Variety
When it comes to the fusion of flavors with chocolate, mint is definitely one of the most popular ideations, and, in my opinion, is also one of the more delicate flavor combinations.
At one point in my life, I set out to master mint chocolate fudge and was continually disappointed at my inability to add the optimal amount of mint extract. Too little and you couldn’t taste it; Too much and it tastes like ineffective toothpaste.
So believe me when I tell you: I shed a small tear when I placed a Spokandy chocolate mint on my tongue. I really did.
Perhaps the emotion was joy, or maybe it was envy that someone had figured it out. But I believe it was pure satisfaction that Spokandy had won the battle of achieving the perfect balance of mint and chocolate. Congratulations!
Spokandy also has phenomenal truffles. With decadent flavors and amazing variety, Spokandy is at the top of my list for when I buy truffles as a gift. Some of their exciting truffle flavors include birthday cake, carrot cake, chai, huckleberry lemon, eggnog and so many others.
Halletts Chocolates – Best Turtles & Nuts
Halletts’ collection of chocolates are, in a word, smooth. But, if I had to choose another word, it would be comforting, as their chocolate tastes like a hug after a long day. Hallett’s turtles have fresh, Southern pecans with silky-smooth chocolate coating them.
Just like the Hallett family, I, too, am an entrepreneur, so upon learning the backstory of how Halletts Chocolates came to be, my heart is just happy!
Joel and Tom Hallett had a family farm with seasonal fruits such as raspberries and strawberries in Otis Orchards.
Out of a need to support their farm year-round, they took on making chocolates and candies.
While they eventually sold the business, they carefully taught the new owners the craft of chocolate making and passed their delicious recipes on.
Best Chocolate in Leavenworth
Is it just me, or does everything taste better in Leavenworth? The beautiful Bavarian village has incredible pretzels, sausage, beer, cheese – It’s all delicious.
So, it should be no surprise, then that we found a chocolatier who also made the Leavenworth delightful list!
Schocolat – Best Combination of Fruits and Nuts
Blink and you’ll walk right past this small but mighty chocolate shop.
I had been to Leavenworth nearly a dozen times before I saw it. Now, trips to Leavenworth feel unfinished without a quick stop by Schocolat.
Schocolat’s claim to fame (in my opinion at least) is their fruit and nut discs. These delightful treats have enough nuts and fruit stuffed in them to trick my brain into thinking I’m eating something healthy … but the fine chocolate is so decadent I never feel bad about indulging!
Best Chocolate in Seattle
Driving from Spokane to Seattle means traversing the sometimes precarious Snoqualmie Pass.
Yet, it doesn’t seem as difficult when some of the best chocolate in the northwest, if not the west coast, is waiting just on the other side.
Seattle Chocolate – Best Branding, Best Woman-Owned Business, Most Dedicated to Ethical Practices
Don’t get me wrong, Seattle Chocolate also deserves awards for flavors, variety and craft.
Their layered chocolate truffle bars are especially incredible. They have a hard outside, a center that melts in your mouth, and depending on the truffle bar, it may have a variety of nuts, fruits, toffee and other additions.
One of the most endearing parts of the Seattle Chocolate Company is their fierce dedication to ethically sourcing all of their ingredients – They endeavor to prioritize ethically-sourced ingredients, even if, at times, it might cost more financially.
Seattle Chocolate’s website says: “We’re passionate about cacao and the people who grow it – and bet you are, too.
We work hard to ensure our ethical sourcing practices address issues like gender equality, child labor, sustainable farming methods, higher profits and more; sourcing our cacao beans from two cacao regions of the world, Peru and West Africa.”
Owner and CEO, Jean Thompson, even did a Tedx Talk about the importance of ethically sourcing ingredients. This woman-owned company is shattering the glass ceiling in many ways, but especially tastefully.
Now, as an advertising expert, I often feel bored with advertisements and marketing strategies. However, I was immediately excited by Seattle Chocolate’s brand in a way that I can best express with a “You go girl!”
Having their packaging designed by Pacific Northwest artists, and the names of chocolate inspired by local landmarks, definitely won them extra points in this category as well.
Pro-tip: Have a stop at Sea-Tac, Seattle’s airport? You can find Seattle Chocolate there, too! You can also try some of their caramels (for free!) and get some delicious chocolate gifts for friends/family… or for yourself! We won’t tell!
Best Chocolate in Portland
Now, I consider myself a foodie. Every trip to Portland is an adventure for the taste buds, as each restaurant seems to strive for fresh ingredients, quality practices and primo flavors. So when it came to their chocolate and finest chocolatiers, we expected nothing less than delicious perfection.
Creo Chocolate – Best Mouth-Feel, Best Process and Best Flavor
We ordered a box of Creo Chocolate to be delivered straight to the “Trending Northwest” magazine office to taste-test.
Seeing the beautiful brown box arrive with a beautiful foil logo made this chocolate a contender for best branding as well … but we can’t give them every unofficial award, right?
When researching chocolate shops, I was immediately impressed by how transparent Creo Chocolate was with its process.
They have a brilliant way of educating customers on the cacao-harvesting and chocolate-making process in a way that emboldens customers to raise their standards of what makes good chocolate.
When it comes to food and drinks, texture is so important; We use the term “mouthfeel” to describe the texture of a food or beverage.
Creo Chocolate’s mouthfeel is smoother than most chocolate we’ve tasted.
After researching their extremely detailed process, I truly believe they’ve experimented over and over to get it to that point. The flavor is decadent and rich, but not too much.
Lovely, delectable, and rave-worthy, all in an inch-by-inch square. Mmmm.
Try the Best Chocolates in the Northwest This Holiday Season
After such a difficult few years with the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m reaching for all things calming, comfortable and crave-worthy – More of those delicious C’s.
Luckily for me, the Northwest is full of the best chocolate made by small businesses.
This holiday season, give your loved ones the gift of chocolate, made by those whose love for their craft is the only thing sweeter than the treat itself.
Christine Burns is a local entrepreneur, public speaker, content creator, model, and writer from Spokane, WA. She’s an expert in marketing and owns Posted Consulting LLC, an award-winning PR firm. Born and raised in the Inland Northwest, Christine loves to support and advocate for local businesses and artists, and even hosts the annual Spokane Small Business Convention in the spring.