Is Craft Chocolate Worth the Price?
Let’s separate this into two questions. First, is the price reasonable? Generally, yes. Second, it is worth it? That’s up to you. From an objective standpoint, taking into account the cost of growing and properly fermenting fine flavor varieties of cacao – which are often lower-yielding, the limited supply of high quality fine flavor cocoa, and the expertise required to figure out and execute a beautiful roast profile for each batch, combined with the fact that most craft chocolate makers have a very tight margin, the price of craft chocolate is entirely reasonable. For $7-$20, you can get a bar of literally the best chocolate in the world.
There are exceptions. There are small producers who cut corners, use inferior ingredients, and simply aren’t that good, but charge the same kind of prices. There are some that are using great ingredients, and they just aren’t that good. They might be getting the hang of things, and it’s sometimes worth buying a bar to support the potential of new chocolate makers. There are also big companies offering single-origin chocolates or other fancy bars in beautiful packaging for inflated prices. Those prices reflect marketing and a high-end market segment rather than the quality of the chocolate itself. Back to the good stuff and the second question. It is worth it for you personally? On a purely taste-wise basis, if you can’t tell the difference between a $3 and a $12 bar of chocolate, it doesn’t make sense to buy the more expensive one. It’s the same as $200 bottles of wine that oenophiles believe to be worth every penny because of their quality and rarity. For some vintages that might be a perfectly reasonable price, too. I don’t drink and probably couldn’t tell the difference between $20 wine and $200 wine, so for me it wouldn’t be worth it. But Domori's criollo bars knock my socks off, so even at $7 for 0.88 oz I think they're worth it.
The thing is, anyone can learn to appreciate the difference between well-made and poorly made chocolate, and in doing so open up an entirely new dimension of pleasure. That’s really what connoisseurship is about – taking the time to notice and understand the nuances of something such that you can enjoy it more deeply. It’s made out to be fancy and exclusive, but many of us are connoisseurs already, whether of bluegrass music, food trucks, or Argentine cinema. And in this case, the time invested in developing your appreciation is uniquely pleasant, so why not enrich your life with a more profound appreciation of chocolate? The more you develop your palate, the more confident you will feel in judging whether a bar merits its seven, ten, or twenty dollar price tag – or not – and the ones that do will blow your mind!