I often hear people say, “I don’t do Valentine’s Day.” To which I say, “Okay, I get that. But do you do chocolate?” It’s not that I believe you really need an excuse to indulge in good chocolate, but it sure doesn’t hurt. However, if you need a little something to make your chocolate taste even sweeter this Valentine’s Day, consider purchasing some locally made Colorado chocolates. You can feel good about your indulgence knowing that you are doing your part to support your local economy–some of us perhaps a little more than others.
For the everyday poet: Chocolove Bar (Boulder)
Made in small batches in Boulder, each Chocolove bar comes wrapped in a poem. If you know me, you know that this is my go-to chocolate. I almost always have a half-eaten Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar in the house, which I am guessing is their most popular as it is frequently sold out in shops. The full collection features 24 flavors, so why not wrap up 2 dozen chocolate bars for your nearest and dearest? (They also sell the full 2 dozen in a cloth-bound gift box.)
Best bet: Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate is so beloved it frequently sells out in stores. Consider wrapping up a bunch of the mini-bars as everything is somehow cuter in mini size.
Where to buy: Various grocery stores (including Lakewood-based Natural Grocers) as well as local stores and coffee shops throughout Denver.
For the discerning, eco-conscious chocolate lover: Nova Craft Chocolate (Lafayette)
These locally crafted bars are made from chocolate hand-harvested and sourced from Ecuador and Nicaragua. As the company states, “Working directly with farmers, we help promote sustainable communities while creating chocolate of unsurpassed quality and purity.” Their reputation for sustainable practices plus the delivery of superlative chocolates has earned this company a loyal local following.
Best Bet: Conduct a side-by-side taste test of their single-origin bars: 80% Ecuador Single Origin Bar and 70% Nicaragua Single Origin Bar.
Where to buy: Various locations around Denver including Bellwether Coffee (5126 E. Colfax, Denver), Hazel and Dewey (70 S. Broadway, Denver), Huckleberry Roasters Cafe (4301 Pecos, Denver), St Kilians Cheese Shop (3211 Lowell, Denver), and Tattered Cover (various locations). For location closest to you, see the Nova Craft Chocolate website.
For foodies and oenophiles: The Chocolate Therapist (Littleton)
This fantastic little shop features handcrafted chocolate from sweet to savory, with ingredients like cayenne pepper and Hawaii Kai Red Palm Island sea salt. Launched by founder Julie Pech, who has a background in nutrition, the chocolates feature all-natural, high-quality ingredients and organic flavoring oils. Unexpected flavors include sangria, earl grey, and chai. All the chocolate is gluten-free, and the dark chocolate is also dairy-free.
Best bet: The Chocolate Therapist sells both wine lovers’ and beer lovers’ chocolate gift sets, each with pairing suggestions. Also, check out their savories, such as cayenne pepper, for those with a more adventurous palette.
Where to buy: The Chocolate Therapist is located in downtown Littleton (2560 W. Main Street).
For the traditionalist: Roberta’s Chocolates (Denver)
For 20-plus years, this family-owned shop located in northwest Denver has been serving sweets to the public. They offer a wide selection of sweets including traditional boxed chocolates, novelty candy, and some unique items (the chocolate pizza, in a variety of flavors, is definitely a little unusual). They even sell Bronco chocolates, which might be the perfect thing to bring to that Super Bowl party.
Where to buy: Roberta’s Chocolates is located in northwest Denver at 4840 W. 29th Avenue.
Best bet: Go for the fudge and truffles, which are made on site.
And, one more from (a-hem) Utah: Ritual Chocolate
Okay, I confess…at first I thought this was a Colorado-made chocolate. (Their slogan is “handcrafted at 7,000 feet.” Seems I forgot Coloradans are not the only ones who live that high.) It is actually handcrafted in Park City, Utah. However, as it is sold by local Denver businesses, I think it fits a loophole. Mostly because, like so many happy accidents, once I tasted it, I didn’t want to leave it out. The chocolate has a deep, rich flavor…a small bite goes a long way to sate any craving. Each hand-crafted small batch bar is labeled and numbered, much like a work of art.
Best bet: The Fleur de Sel has the perfect balance of savory and sweet.
Where to buy: Downpours Coffee (3937 Tennyson Street, Denver)
Where’s your favorite place to buy local sweets?