Ah, summer. Time for many of us to spend some time unplugged by the water, reading, napping, and doing whatever brings us joy. Taking chocolate to the beach is not a great idea unless you want to slurp it melted, but there are numerous excellent books about chocolate that travel a lot better than chocolate itself. Here are four of Tangle Chocolate’s favorites.
The first book on the list is an interesting, fun, easy-to-read overview of chocolate (and contains some recipes); the second is a fascinating, well-researched academic history of chocolate; the third contains contemporary political and socio-economic issues regarding the chocolate industry; and the fourth looks to the future of chocolate.
Enjoy these, and please let us know what your favorites are!
Making Chocolate from Bean to Bar to S’more, Masonis, D’Alesandre, Vega, and Gore, 2017. This was the first comprehensive guide to making bean-to-bar chocolate, and it was written by the folks at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, who continue to be groundbreakers in the field. The book includes some history, some practical guides for both the casual consumer and start-up chocolate business, and recipes for chocolate confections. It’s packed with information, includes gorgeous photographs, and is also often hilariously funny.
The True History of Chocolate, Michael D Coe and Sophie Coe, 1996. Although this book is not completely up to date, the history that it covers goes all the way back 4,000 years and tracks in loving detail everything you ever wanted to know about how chocolate became what it is today (or what it was in 2013 when the latest edition was published). It is an eye opener to the profound impact this one crop has had on communities, diets, trade relationships, and power dynamics for literally thousands of years, and sets the stage for the next book in this list, Cocoa.
Cocoa, Kristy Leissle, 2018. If you want to learn about the power and politics surrounding chocolate, this is the book for you. The focus is on current geopolitical issues as it follows the value chain of chocolate from the countries of cacao’s origin all the way to worldwide markets. Eye-opening injustices and inequities are revealed, but Leissle also discusses ways to make the industry more equitable and sustainable.
Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate, Pam Williams and Jim Eber, 2019. This fine book divides its discussion of the future of fine chocolate into four sections: Genetics and Flavor; Farmers, Farming and Flavor; Craftsmanship, Customer Education and Flavor; and Performing Flavor: The Art of the Chocolatier. And yes, their emphasis is on, as you may have guessed, flavor. Discussions with genetic scientists, representatives of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative, and stakeholders of all kinds in today’s chocolate industry inform us about where flavor comes from, what is being done to preserve and improve the variety of flavors that are possible in chocolate, and issues around sustainability and educating consumers.