14 Amazing Planet-Friendly, Feel-Good Chocolates To Give Your Valentine

Go beyond organic, fair trade, and sustainably sourced with these do-gooder treats—one chocolate bar even funds dog rescue programs.

February 8, 2017
chocolate bars
Riccardo Bruni / EyeEm/getty

Let us give you a few reasons to eat LOTS OF chocolate this Valentine’s Day. The stuff is good for you in some surprising ways: eating it boosts circulation, leading to healthier skin. Cocoa bean husks contain compounds that protect your teeth. And eating chocolate—dark chocolate in particular—can reduce cravings and help you lose weight. (See 7 Legitimate Health Benefits of Chocolate).

It’s a great time to be a chocolate lover. Besides its health benefits, today, there are a bunch of socially minded chocolate-makers making treats are also good for people and the planet. This Valentine’s Day, make your love go twice as far by supporting businesses that give back every day. Our A-Z lineup comprises both US and European confectioners and bean-to-bar makers who seek to create more equitable and sustainable relationships for cacao farmers, company employees, and community members at large. 

alter eco chocolate
Photograph courtesy of alter eco chocolate
Alter Eco Chocolates

Alter Eco is an environmentally conscious company uses plant-based renewable packaging and sources from coops in Bolivia, Peru and Thailand. The company tag line is “Nourishing Foodie, Farmer and Field." The company offers 11 bars in scrumptious flavors such as brown butter, burnt caramel, a fudgy Dark Velvet bar, plus a line of bon bons. 

Try: The aptly named Sweet Treat Valentines Box for Your Special Someone, which includes a puffed quinoa and dark chocolate bar—like a high-protein grown-up Nestle Crunch bar, in the best possible way—a deep dark sea salt bar, and a 10-pack of sea salt truffles.

askinosie chocolates
Photograph courtesy of askinosie chocolate
Askinosie Chocolate

The brown paper packaging says it all: every bar of small batch Askinosie Chocolate features an image of the cacao farmer who grew the beans used to make that particular origin bar. And owner Shawn Askinowsie’s consciousness raising doesn’t stop there. Every year through Chocolate University, he brings local high school students to Tanzania to meet with cacao farmers to learn about sustainability, entrepreneurship, and about being global citizens in a changing world. Local school children of all ages participate in programs at the chocolate factory learning first hand how good business practices can solve world problems.

Try: A gift of chocolate that’ll keep the love going until next February with the Askinosie Year Of Chocolate: a collection that contains one of each of 12 premium single-origin chocolate bars (including a black licorice-chocolate blend, and a chocolate, coconut sugar, and toasted coconut bar) and a tin of single-origin cocoa powder. (Unsweetened cocoa powder like has the highest level of cocoa flavonols and is the healthiest form of chocolate. Read up on its benefits and how to use it at 5 Surprising Ways to Cook with Cocoa)

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dandelion chocolate beans
Photograph courtesy of dandelion chocolate
Dandelion Chocolate

San Francisco-based Dandelion Chocolate is serious about how it gives back to non-profits. Beneficiaries are mainly Bay-Area arts organizations and social services. However, the bean to bar company also seeks to improve cacao farming techniques throughout the world and currently sources beans from Belize, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Guatemela, Venezuela, and even Liberia. Their production facility also houses a cafe in the Mission district where chocolate-inspired pastries are baked fresh daily. In addition to tasting classes and factory tours, Dandelion even sponsors trips to the cacao farms they source from.

Try: Dandelion Chocolate Roasted Cocoa Beans, which you can eat straight out of the shell, like a peanut, or use an ingredient in recipes like banana bread and brownies. 

divine chocolate
Photograph courtesy of divine chocolate
Divine Chocolate

Headquartered in the UK, Divine Chocolate sources all of its Fair Trade cocoa beans from the Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. Additionally, the company is B Corp certified meaning that it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.This just makes their dark and milk bars with ginger, orange, mango, coconut, toffee, and hazelnut that much tastier. 

Try: Divine Chocolate Milk Chocolate Lovers Variety Pack. Made from beans from a cooperative in Ghana, Divine’s organic bars are everything one would want in milk chocolate: sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm the cocoa notes, and balanced dairy flavors.  

grenada chocolate
Photograph courtesy of grenada chocolate
Grenada Chocolate Company

Founded in 1999 by Mott Green, Doug Browne, and Edmond Brown as a cooperatively-owned chocolate company, Grenada Chocolate is one of the world’s most equitable and sustainable makers; much of the processing equipment runs on solar power. Described as “tree to bar” chocolate by its makers, chocolate is made right in the middle of a cacao plantation from Ceres-certified organic Trinitario beans. The cocoa butter used is made right on premises and the sugar and vanilla are Fair Trade certified.

Try: Calling all dark chocolate lovers! With its bright, fruit-forward notes, the Grenada Chocolate 100% is the bar you’ve been waiting for.

 
 
lake champlain chocolate frog
Photograph courtesy of lake champlain chocolate
Lake Champlain Chocolate

Vermont-based Lake Champlain Chocolate doesn’t just look out for its cacao farmers, it takes good care of its employees as well and has Fair for Life certification to prove it. Since its founding in 1983, the company has sourced maple syrup, honey, butter and cream from surrounding farms. Local partnerships have been at the heart of their business from the start. 

Try: We’re partial to the Be Mine Chocolate Frog, a whimsical chocolate valentine of semi-solid pure Belgian milk chocolate and white chocolate, hand-decorated with dark chocolate accents.

liddabit sweets chocolate
Photograph courtesy of liddabit sweets chocolate
Liddabit Sweets

Owners Liz Guttman and Jen King (who met in pastry school) really care about making a difference. Their company, Liddabit Sweets supports an an impressive line up of arts groups and food rescue organizations—and staff are actually paid for their time spent volunteering. This same caring sensibility is brought to their work as chocolatiers. Every bar or bon bon is made by hand from the highest quality ingredients in their production kitchen in Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Their luscious treats “for modern mouths” feature flavors like coffee ganache and hazelnut praline and chocolate nougat with peanut caramel. 

Try: A beribboned box of 15 Saucy Whiskey Honey Truffles is a sweet, salty, boozy package—is there anything sexier? Each truffle features a dark chocolate shell encasing a liquid salted-caramel center infused with honey and Bulleit bourbon. A topping of cacao nib guilds the lily.

madecasse chocolates
Photograph courtesy of madacasse chocolate
Madécasse

Madécasse environmentally conscious company sources beans only from the Red Island (Madagascar). Their business model is the “beyond-fair-trade” model known as Direct Trade where makers have contracts directly with cacao farmers assuring them a particular price for their harvest. Madécasse also helps farmers with construction costs of fermentation and drying equipment thus becoming active partners with their farmers. The company features a full line of plain origin chocolate and bars with inclusions like coffee beans, almonds or coconut. 

Try: The Madécasse Chocolate Library contains mint crunch, salted almond, toasted coconut, sea salt and cocoa nibs, and 70%, 80%, and 92% dark chocolate bars. They come neatly packaged in a reusable recipe box that can hold 4 x 6 recipe cards.

 
 
rescue chocolate
Photograph courtesy of rescue chocolate
Rescue Chocolate

Founded in 2010 by Sarah Gross after she adopted a pitbull rescue, Rescue Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based vegan and Kosher chocolate company devoted to helping large and small animals in need. Each chocolate is catchily named (Mission Feral Fig, Peanut Butter Pitbull, Fakin’ Bacon) and each year, an organization is selected as that year’s beneficiary. Popular for fundraising efforts and even wedding favors, Rescue Chocolate helps bring attention to the needs of unwanted pets.  

Try: The crispy peanut butter and dark chocolate Peanut Butter Pitbull bar

sweet riot chocolate bar
Photograph courtesy of sweet riot chocolates
Sweet Riot

At woman-owned Sweet Riot, based in NYC, founder Sarah Endline is committed “to building a sweet movement to fix the world through chocolate.” Sweet Riot’s addictive organic chocolate-covered cocoa nibs are packed in a handy, reusable tin container. After the success of the nibs, the company added organic, gluten-free, and Fair Trade riotBars to its line where 99% of the ingredients used at fair trade. The packaging features Endline’s portait on a riotiously colorful background. 

Try: riotBar 70% Kickin' Coconut is a taste of tropical paradise.

taza chocolate bar
Photograph courtesy of taza chocolates
Taza

Best known for their Mexican-style, coarse-ground disks, Massachusetts-based Taza has recently introduced an 84% dark bar from Haiti. Partnering directly with cacao farmers in the highlands there, Taza is the first US chocolate maker to source Certified USDA Organic cacao from Haiti through its groundbreaking Direct Trade program. 

Try: The 84% dark bar from Haiti. With notes of dried fig, sour cherry, and roasted nuts, this bar introduces chocolate lovers to a new origin and at the same time helps rebuild Haiti’s agricultural sector.

 
 
tonys chocolonely
Photograph courtesy of tonys chocolonely
Tony’s Chocolonely

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in The Netherlands, Tony’s Chocolonely seeks to bring attention to the problem of child labor/slavery in cacao plantations in West Africa. The company’s motto is “Crazy about chocolate. Serious about People.” To that end, the company (now with offices in Portland) is committed to producing entirely slave-free chocolate bars. 

Try: This Valentine’s day, their Valentoney bar is made from extra fine dark chocolate, meringue from free-range eggs, and pieces of dried cherry.

tumbadore chocolates
Photograph courtesy of tumbadore chocolates
Tumbador Chocolate

Tumbador, a Brooklyn-based company led by pastry chef Jean-Francois Bonnet has truly changed the lives of a few of its employees. Through partnerships with Strive and The Fortune Society, they have helped former prison inmates re-enter the community with meaningful work and a chance to start over. Here you’ll find handmade S’mores, Ring Ding-like cakes in devils’ food or red velvet, and an almost dizzying array of superbly crafted bon bons. 

Try: The 7 Deadly Sins Collection, featuring flavors like “envy” (creamy white chocolate and passion fruit ganache), “pride” (champagne milk chocolate ganache with black currant jam) and “sloth” (goat’s milk dulce de leche with a hint of fleur de sel). 

heart chocolate pizza
Photograph courtesy of zotter chocolates
Zotter

It’s worth the effort to track down Zotter, a little-known Austrian bean to bar maker. (Hint: Fog City News in SF carries them.) Fair trade and organic, Zotter chocolate is memorable in every way. From the delightful cartoonish figures on the colorful boxes to really exotic flavor combinations like Pumpkin Seed Marzipan and Hemp Mocha, Zotter is a different kind of maker. 

Try: The Heart Pizza with Roses—a milk chocolate pie decorated with pink raspberry chocolate hearts and ginseng power hearts, sprinkled with roasted hempseeds, fragrant rose blooms and walnut bits.