How to Make a Cappuccino?

A well-made cappuccino from an experienced barista is a delectable work of art. However, you can learn to make a cappuccino on your own by following these instructions.
One of the most popular drinks these days is a cappuccino. This is a big part of the reason for that you see a coffee shop on every corner. Most people don't really have the equipment that they need to make one at home but there are ways around that.
It is essential that you have established how to make the perfect espresso before moving on to other drinks such as cappuccino, as this is the base of the whole drink.  If your espresso is bad it doesn’t matter how well you froth or pour your milk, it will never make a good cappuccino!
A cappuccino is simply a mixture of espresso along with some steamed milk and some milk foam. This of course raises the obvious question of just what is espresso? Espresso is simply a concentrated extraction from coffee beans; it requires a special machine to make it. When you make a cappuccino you can vary it by changing the amount of steamed milk or foam that you have on it allowing you to make the drink just the way that you like it. This is a big part of the reason that they have become so popular.

Myth: cappuccino’s silky magic is beyond the grasp of home baristas.  It’s just too delicate of a dance, best left to the cafe.
Truth: great cappuccino is a delight available to discerning coffee lovers, right in their own kitchens.  It takes some practice with water, steam and foam, along with the right equipment on your countertop.  You’ll want an espresso machine with a built-in steaming wand. And of course, illy coffee on hand as your foundation.
A cappuccino is an approximately 150 ml (5 oz) beverage, with 25 ml of espresso coffee and 85ml of fresh milk The foaming action creates the additional volume.

The best foam
Foam’s consistency depends on the milk’s fat content.
For the most velvety, rich cappuccino, use whole milk.  You can substitute low-fat milk, at the sacrifice of some smoothness.
Foam produced from skim milk is light and meringue-like, quick to dissolve.

Step 1- Prepare the Espresso
1. Grind enough espresso beans for a 1-ounce (30 ml) espresso shot.
Check the consistency of the ground espresso by pinching some between your thumb and forefinger. The espresso should clump lightly together, but you shouldn't be able to see your thumbprint.
If you see a visible thumbprint or the espresso doesn't clump at all, adjust your coffee grinder according to the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Empty the grounds into your espresso machine's portafilter. Use your pinky to lightly touch the surface of the ground espresso to evenly distribute it around the portafilter.

3. Tamp the ground espresso into the portafilter using an espresso tamper.
Press the grounds down gently and then tap the outside of the portafilter to get loose espresso off of the inside of the portafilter.
Push the pellet with firm pressure to compact the espresso into the portafilter.

4. Place the portafilter into your machine. Don't pull the espresso shot yet. You will wait to pour the shot until you have foamed the milk.

Step 2- Foam the Milk
1. Press the "Steam" button on your espresso maker. When the indicator light comes on (or goes off, depending on your machine), your machine is ready to dispense steam. Release the steam wand briefly to get rid of residual moisture in the wand.
2. Pour 4 ounces (120 ml) of milk into a chilled metal pitcher. Nonfat milk makes more foam, while whole milk creates a creamier shot.
3. Place a thermometer into your pitcher. Ideally, your foam should be between 150 and 155 F (65 and 68 C) when the steaming process is complete.
4. Lower the steam wand into the pitcher and release the wand. Then, lower the pitcher until the steam wand rests just below the surface of the milk.
Listen as you foam the milk. You should hear a steady ch-ch-ch sound if you have the wand in the right position.
If you hear a whine and see big bubbles, your steam wand tip is too high. Raise your pitcher slightly.
5. Sink the wand into the lower portion of the milk when the temperature reaches 100 F (38 C). Slowly swirl the pitcher to whirlpool the milk.
6. Turn off the steam wand when the foam reaches the desired temperature. Set the milk aside.

Step 3-  Pull the Espresso Shot and Assemble the Cappuccino
1. Place your cappuccino cup under the espresso dispenser and start the brewing cycle.
2. Analyze your shot for quality. The first part of the shot will be dark followed by a rich golden foam called the crema.
3. Time the shot. The shot should pour for 20 to 30 seconds for the best quality.
4. Keep the shot if it pours correctly. Otherwise, discard it, grind and tamp more espresso, and try again.
5. Pour the foamed milk over the espresso shot. Your cappuccino should be about 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foamed milk.
6.Drink your shot. You can sprinkle the foam with cinnamon for extra flavor, if desired.

Cappuccino was traditionally a taste largely appreciated in Europe, Australia, South America and some of North America. By the mid-1990s cappuccino was made much more
widely available to North Americans, as upscale coffee houses sprang up.
In Italy, and throughout continental Europe, cappuccino was traditionally consumed early in the day as part of the breakfast, with some kind of sweet pastry. Generally, Europeans did not drink cappuccino with meals other than breakfast, preferring espresso throughout the day and following dinner[citation needed]. However, in recent years Europeans have started to drink cappuccino throughout the entire day. Especially in Australia and Western Europe cappuccino is popular at cafés and terraces during the afternoon and in restaurants after dinner. In Italy, cappuccino is consumed only before 10 am, and Italians consider it very "strange" to ask for a cappuccino after that hour. In the United States, cappuccinos have become popular concurrent with the boom in the American coffee industry through the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially in the urban Pacific Northwest.

There are 4 types of cappuccino today in the world. 
Traditional Style Cappuccino is possible to find in cafes and some Old Italian shops. Recipe of traditional cappuccino is strong espresso of 2 shots, hot milk and foamed milk. Some cafes use blanket milk instead of foamed one. Coffee lovers can add more espresso shots if they like their cappuccino stronger. Milk level is the key for the best taste and when milk is low or high, it will not be cappuccino. If more than enough milk for cappuccino, it’s latte.

Wet Cappuccino is very similar to traditional cappuccino. Same amount of espresso is used for wet cappuccino but milk level varies according to recipe. When someone wants wet cappuccino in a café, he means more milk poured in the espresso. Also he wants little less steamed foam on it. This is for coffee lovers who like their cappuccino with more creamy and light taste than traditional cappuccino. There were coffee gourmets in the end of 19th century and they were professional to differ cafe latte and wet cappuccino. But today it’s hard to separate them. Only foam level can show if it’s café latte or wet cappuccino.

Dry Cappuccino is also very similar to traditional cappuccino. When a customer wants dry cappuccino, he means no steamed milk poured in the espresso. Steamed foam will be increased instead of steamed milk so it will make the cappuccino stronger but will not break its creamy taste. It’s especially for people who like the layer of milky foam over the cappuccino.
Flavored Cappuccino is a new type of drink and it’s possible to have it by adding flavor to all types of cappuccino. They are mostly in bottles. Syrup can be directly poured into cappuccino for flavor. There are many new cappuccino types now calling with their own name. Flavors can vary like mint, vanilla and caramel. In some café, it’s possible to see powdered cocoa or sugar is sprinkling over the foam. 

Iced cappuccino or iced cappuccino is popular in some parts of Italy. While café owners prepare their iced cappuccinos from morning for customers, it’s very hard to find prepared one in Milan. Northern Italy cities have their iced cappuccino variations like “gelato da bere” and “shakerato”. There are today big coffee shops are selling this product with various names like Starbucks’ “iced latte” Also Tim Hortons in Canada is selling ‘Icecap’ or ‘Iced capp’ which is short name of iced cappuccino. 

Similar drinks
Other milk and espresso drinks similar to the cappuccino include:
  • Caffè macchiato is a significantly shorter drink, which consists of espresso with only a small amount of milk.
  • Cortado is a spanish hybrid; a slightly shorter drink, which consists of espresso mixed with milk in a 1:1 to 1:2 ratio, and is not topped with foam. Cafè Cortado has traditionally been served in a small glass on a saucer, and its character comes more from the spanish preferation of coffee beans and roast plus condensed milk replacing fresh dairy milk. Modern coffee shops have started using fresh milk.
  • Latte (short for "caffè latte") is a larger drink, with the same amount of espresso, but with more milk and a varying amount of foam, served in a large cup or tall glass.
  • Flat White is an Australian hybrid and a way of preparing something between a cappuccino and a caffè latte ('flat' indicating little or no foam), typically prepared with a double shot of espresso and a little latte art atop. A flat white is prepared with a milder espresso and no robusta.

History Of Arabica Coffee Beans

Coffee is one of the world's favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity. Arabica coffee is considered to produce the finest coffee beans.
Arabica coffee beans come from coffee cherries grown on the Arabica coffee plants. They originated in northern Africa, but are now grown in many parts of the world. They are gourmet coffee beans that do not have to be mixed with other coffee beans to be good.
The arabica coffee bean is the Adam or Eve of all coffees, its origins dating back to about 1,000 BC in the highlands of the Kingdom of Kefa (present-day Ethiopia), where the Oromos tribe ate the bean, crushed it and mixed it with fat to make spheres the size of ping-pong balls. The spheres were consumed for the same reason that coffee is consumed today: as a stimulant.
Arabica got its name around the 7th century when the bean crossed the Red Sea from Ethiopia to present-day Yemen and the lower Arab peninsula .
Arabica is also the Merlot of coffee, its mild taste a seductive evocation of sweetness, light and mountain air.
The name arabica was given to this species of coffee by the botanist Carolus Linnaeus who incorrectly believed that it originated on the Arabian peninsula in modern-day Yemen. There is still debate over whether it was first cultivated in East Africa or on the Arabian peninsula.

The Very First Use Of Arabica Coffee Beans
There are several legends surrounding the first use of the Arabica coffee bean and of course it is difficult to verify any of these. They are worth mentioning though for interests sake!
One legend involves a Sufi mystic noticing birds with unusual vitality and energy, seemingly from eating a particular berry. When he tried the berries himself they had a similar effect on him and he then took some with him back to Arabia to share with his people.
Another account tells of a disciple called Omar who was exiled to a cave. He picked some berries but on eating them found them quite bitter. He tried roasting them but they became hard and inedible. He then tried boiling those hard beans in water to soften them and they produced a brown liquid with an intriguing fragrance. On drinking the liquid he was revitalized and sustained for days.
Coffee was primarily associated in the Islamic world with religion although over time it became a common place drink and a widely traded commodity.
It is now the second most traded commodity in the world behind oil.

Distribution, Habitat and Cultivation
Arabica coffee beans played a huge part in the establishment of slavery in the Caribbean. Over 1 million slaves were brought to Cuba between the 16th and 19th centuries for the sole purpose of cultivating coffee.
Arabica coffee is now grown primarily in the developing world and accounts for 70-80% of the world’s coffee production.
Wild plants grow between 9 and 12m and have an open branch system and leafy appearance. They have an ideal elevation range which is usually between 1300 and 1500m above sea level but there are also plantations as low as sea level and as high as 2800m.
So there we have it, some interesting and insightful information about the Arabica coffee bean. 
Makes me think it might be time for a coffee!

Fully grown, coffea arabica is between fourteen to fifteen feet tall and bushy. It has dark-green, lance-shaped leaves, approximately three to six inches long. The underside of the leaves are substantially lighter than the top side.
The white and fragrant flowers of the coffea arabica tree grow in clusters in the axils of the leaves. Even on a single tree, the number of petals on a flower vary from blossom to blossom. In hot and dry conditions, the flowers are generally smaller and more numerous. However, if the conditions are too dry, the flowers will not bear as much of the fruit that will develop into the coffee harvest.
The cherries of the arabica coffee tree contain an elliptical pit which typically consists of two coffee beans. In rare cases, the pit may actually be made from three beans, however, a more common mutation occurs when there is only one coffee bean in a cherry. These beans are referred to as peaberry.
The number of times coffee may be harvested from an arabica tree varies widely and is dependent on factors such as the variety of the tree and the growing climate. A single tree typically produce from one to twelve pounds of coffee annually.


  • Arabica;
  • Blue Mountain- grown in Jamaica and Kenya;
  • Bourbon;
  • Catuai - developed as a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra, characterized by either yellow or red cherries: Catuai-amarelo and Catuai-vermelho respectively;
  • Columnaris;
  • Erecta;
  • Mokka;
  • Maragopipe;
  • Mundo Novo- a cross between typica and bourbon, originally grown in Brazil ;
  • Purpurascens;
  • San Ramon;
  • Typica;
  • Kent - originally developed in India, showing some disease resistance.

Known hazards: 
Although recent research shows that there are many positive health benefits from consumption in moderation, much research is being undertaken to investigate the numerous compounds found in coffee and how these affect quality and human health.

The Best Teas

From green tea to hibiscus, from white tea to chamomile, teas are chock full of flavonoids and other healthy goodies.

Lipton Black Tea
A top seller for decades, this orange-pekoe blend has a mellow, full-bodied taste that also makes for great iced tea. 
To buy: $2.80 for 48 bags.
Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.

Choice Organic Teas Whole Leaf Organics English Breakfast
Large bags allow for maximum infusion, producing an earthy, robust flavor. 
To buy: $8.50 for 15 bags.
English breakfast tea is simply black tea without added herbs or other ingredients. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, this beverage, made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, is the second most widely consumed drink in the world, after water. Because black tea can retain its flavor for years, it has been a popular article of trade for centuries, creating important relations between nations throughout the planet. People who drink English breakfast tea each morning can enjoy a variety of health benefits from its flavonoid content and from other nutrients it contains.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Earl Greater Grey
The spicy citrus notes from the bergamot oil in this organic winner go deliciously with milk and honey. 
To buy: $6.50 for 22 bags.
Earl Grey. If you're a tea drinker, you may have heard of or tried Earl Grey tea, a blend of different Chinese teas with some added citrus flavor. Named for a 19th-century English prime minister, Earl Charles Grey, it's a flavorful, aromatic blend that could also provide significant health benefits because of its content of natural, biologically active compounds.

Stash Premium Green Tea
Fresh and pleasantly grassy, this bold variety has none of the astringent aftertaste common to many green teas. 
To buy: $3.60 for 20 bags.
Green Tea. Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.

Yogi Purely Peppermint
This fragrant golden brew from the Pacific Northwest bursts with invigorating flavor―a perfect pick-me-up. 
To buy: $5 for 16 bags.
Mint tea is the classic herbal tea. Mint is an ingredient in many different commercial tea blends and is much-loved for its refreshing fragrance. Mint is an herb that doesn’t just grow easily – it can quickly overtake your garden!  For this reason, it is recommended to grow mint in either a container or its own bed. There are many varieties of mint and the healing properties are similar.  Whether you grow peppermint or spearmint, the active component is menthol.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile
Flowery and honey scented, this blend helps calm the body and aid digestion. 
To buy: $4.50 for 16 bags.
Chamomile tea should be steeped a little longer than other herbal teas in order to get all of the medicinal benefits.  This soothing, slightly apple-flavored tea has mild sedative properties. The petals of the tiny flowers are where the medicinal values lie.
Chamomile is easy to grow from seeds. Start them in the late winter and transfer outdoors when the risk of frost has passed.  Once the plants are well established, chamomile can thrive with little water during hot weather.  When buying your seeds, note that German chamomile is an annual and Roman chamomile is a perennial.

The Republic of Tea Good Hope Vanilla Red Tea
Made from the rooibos plant, this caffeine-free tea is redolent of berries and vanilla bean. 
To buy: $10 for 36 bags.
Rooibos tea. THE tannin in standard black tea can reduce iron absorption from foods, so anaemia sufferers are advised not to drink it with meals. But South African rooibos (close in taste to black tea) can be drunk safely as it doesn’t impair iron uptake as much as traditional tea.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee has become recognized as a human necessity. It is no longer a luxury or an indulgence; it is a corollary of human energy and human efficiency.
William H. Ukers, All About Coffee 
There are many methods for brewing a fine cup of coffee -- no single technique is right for everyone. The method you choose for brewing your coffee should be based on your needs and your unique coffee preferences. Do you want a hearty mug of coffee for breakfast?  An afternoon cappucino? Or a dessert espresso? Do you prefer a milder coffee or a more robust coffee flavor?
The quality and flavor of your coffee is not only determined by the brewing process you prefer but also by the type of coffee you select.  For example, what country is the coffee from, what region and what variety of coffee tree?  Or is it a blend from several countries, regions or varieties?  Do you favor a dark roast coffee, a light blend or something in between?  What kind of grind have you selected?  Remember to be creative - you can choose a dark espresso roast coffee and still have it ground to be brewed in a drip system.

What is Good Coffee?
To understand good coffee, we have to start with how the coffee world measures its brews. After all, if you're trying categorize your coffee, it helps if you have a benchmark.
Measuring the quality of coffee goes back to the 1950s, when MIT chemistry professor E. E. Lockhart conducted a series of surveys to determine American preferences. Basically, he surveyed a lot of coffee drinkers and asked them what they liked.
Lockhart published his findings in the form of the Coffee Brewing Control Chart, a graphical representation of what Americans at the time considered to be the best coffee. In the years since, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has confirmed that American tastes haven't changed all that much. Perfection, at least to Americans, is a coffee that falls in the range of 18 to 22 percent Extraction with a brew strength between 1.15 and 1.35 percent Total Dissolved Solids.
The Percentage Extraction is the amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds. The Percentage of Total Dissolved Solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee (commonly known as "brew strength"). When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength and extraction percentage.
Strength refers to the solids that have dissolved in your coffee. Percentage Extraction refers to the amount that you removed from the dry grounds. The point is that strong coffee has almost nothing to do with bitterness, caffeine content, or the roast profile, and everything to do with the ratio of coffee to water in your cup.
The great innovation in measuring all this stuff came about in 2008, when a company called Voice Systems Technology decided to use a refractometer—a device that bounces light waves off of particles—in conjunction with a program they developed called ExtractMojo.
The device allows you to get an accurate reading on Total Dissolved Solids and then compare your brews to the Coffee Brewing Control Chart. In this way, you can refine your results based on science as well as taste.

The Right Equipment
    Make sure that your equipment is thoroughly cleaned after each use by rinsing it with clear, hot water and drying it with an absorbant towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of coffee oil. Such residue can impart a bitter, rancid flavor to future cups of coffee. Like the clean, robust taste that comes from a manual dripper, since it filters out oil and sediment. And she’s not alone. As basic as it is, the pour-over has become the latest thing at gourmet coffee shops. 

The Coffee
Purchase coffee as soon after it has been roasted as possible. Fresh roasted coffee is essential to a superb cup of coffee. And purchase your coffee in small amounts—only as much as you can use in a given period of time. Ideally you should purchase your coffee fresh every 1-2 weeks.

Buy good coffee beans
Without question, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted. Buying from a local roaster (or roasting your own) is the surest way to get the absolute freshest beans. Be wary of buying bulk coffee from supermarket display bins. Oxygen and bright light are the worst flavor busters for roasted beans, so unless the store is conscientious about selling fresh coffee, the storage tubes get coated with coffee oils, which turn rancid. Coffee beans packaged by quality-conscious roasters and sold in sturdy, vacuum-sealed bags are often a better bet.

Keep Coffee Beans Fresh
Always store opened coffee beans in an airtight container. Glass canning jars or ceramic storage crocks with rubber-gasket seals are good choices. Never refrigerate . Flavor experts strongly advise against ever freezing coffee, especially dark roasts. Optimally, buy a 5- to 7-day supply of fresh beans at a time and keep at room temperature.

Grind your coffee just before brewing
 Roasted coffee is very delicate and perishable. Coffee has many more flavor compounds than wine, but those compounds deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen. Grinding your coffee just before you brew it keeps those compounds intact, and it's the number one thing you can do to improve your coffee at home.

Use Good Water
Nothing can ruin a pot of coffee more surely than tap water with chlorine or off flavors. Serious coffee lovers use bottled spring water or activated-charcoal/carbon filters on their taps. Note: Softened or distilled water makes terrible coffee—the minerals in good water are essential.

Use the right proportion of coffee to water
A major error people make is not using enough coffee. We empathize—it almost seems wasteful to add that extra scoop. But the Golden Ratio we mentioned earlier really is a great starting point and the simplest way to get into that perfect zone.

Avoid Cheap Filters
Bargain-priced paper coffee filters yield inferior coffee, according to the experts. Look for “oxygen-bleached” or “dioxin-free” paper filters (e.g., Filtropa, Melitta). Alternatively, you may wish to invest in a long-lived gold-plated filter (e.g., SwissGold). These are reputed to deliver maximum flavor, but may let sediment through if the coffee is ground too finely.

Focus on technique
It's beyond the scope of this guide to go through step-by-step instructions for every method, but underlying all of them is the fact that brewing great coffee is about precision and consistency. Each brewing method has its own particular techniques, but by doing the same thing over and over you fix your mistakes and improve incrementally.

Beware The Heat
Water that is too hot will extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter rather than pleasant. The proper brewing temperature is 200°F, or about 45 seconds off a full boil. (Most good coffeemakers regulate this automatically.) Once brewed, don’t expect coffee to hold its best flavors for long. Reheating, boiling or prolonged holding on a warming platform will turn even the best coffee bitter and foul-tasting.

Use quality tools
You're going to get better results from high quality tools than you will with junk from the bargain bin. Yes, it's more of an upfront investment, but in the long run it's worth it. Good tools last longer and make the entire brewing process much easier.

Magic Ratio 
To brew 16 ounces of coffee (two big cups), use 5 tablespoons (or 28 grams) of coffee and 16 ounces of water.

Master the Pour-Over
  •  As your kettle heats, place a dripper lined with a paper filter on a mug or a carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water to get rid of paper dust and to preheat the cone.
  • Place ground coffee in the dampened filter.
  •  After the water boils, wait 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds.
  • Pause 30 seconds to let the coffee “bloom.” It will bubble and soften.
  • Pour again, raising the water level to an inch above the grounds. Wait a few moments until the water trickles through the dripper. Repeat this process of “pulse pouring,” which helps prevent overflow, until you have your desired amount of brewed coffee.
Brewed coffee should be enjoyed immediately!

Pour it into a warmed mug or coffee cup so that it will maintain its temperature as long as possible. Brewed coffee begins to lose its optimal taste moments after brewing so only brew as much coffee as will be consumed immediately. If it will be a few minutes before it will be served, the temperature should be maintained at 180 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit.  It should never be left on an electric burner for longer than 15 minutes because it will begin to develop a burned taste. If the coffee is not to be served immediately after brewing, it should be poured into a warmed, insulated thermos and used within the next 45 minutes.

Enjoy Your Coffee!
A finely prepared cup of coffee should be enjoyed as thoughtfully as it was brewed.  
Take a moment to smell the aroma.
Take a sip and notice your coffee's flavor. How does it compare to other coffees with regard to body, acidity and balance?  If it is a coffee that is new to you, notice how it is different.  If it is what you normally drink, note its degree of freshness or how simple changes in preparation affect the cup's flavor.
A steeping cup of coffee will not last long, but every sip is meant to be savored and enjoyed!
Never reheat your coffee.

What is The Best Chocolates in the World?

Everyone loves chocolate.
Chocolates is  one word which brings a smile on every face. From a kid to an adult everybody loves chocolates. It is the perfect gift for every occasion and also for situations where there is no occasion.
Today's choices are more varied than ever, with all sorts of tempting sweet confections from rich truffles to bittersweet bonbons, organic dark chocolate bars to creamy ganaches.
In any search for the best chocolate in the world, we must start in France. What makes France so important? As in so many matters relating to gastronomy, the French government strictly legislates the production of chocolate. Regulations prohibit the use of any vegetable or animal fat in French chocolate: Only pure cocoa butter is authorized. In addition, French chocolates must contain at least 43 percent cocoa liquor, and a minimum of 26 percent pure cocoa butter. Most French chocolates now contain well above the government's minimum of cocoa liquor. The best bonbons in French chocolate boast up to 80 percent of dark rich cocoa liquor. And, since it is the cocoa liquor that gives chocolate it's rich taste, it is not surprising that French chocolates remain the best in the world.
The flavor and nuances of chocolate will also depend on the quality and origin of the cocoa beans used to make it. The best chocolates beans come from: Venezuela, Brazil, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Central America and the Caribbean. Robert Linxe, owner of Paris' Maison du Chocolat, considers the "Ariba" bean from Central America as the finest of all cocoa beans due to its pronounced character and intense flavor. Other widely used beans are: "Guanaja", "Manjari", "Pur Caraibe" or "Guayaquil" on their chocolate bars.

Teuscher (Zurich, Switzerland). The Teuscher chocolate tradition began more than 70 years ago in a small town in the Swiss Alps. Dolf Teuscher scoured the world to find the finest cocoa, marzipan, fruits, nuts, and other ingredients with which to make his confectionery. After years of experimenting, he skillfully blended these ingredients into his now famous recipes.
Today the Teuscher kitchens in Zurich make more than 100 varieties of chocolates using these original recipes, which have been handed down from father to son. Only the finest and most expensive natural ingredients are used, and absolutely no chemicals, additives, or preservatives are added. The house specialty is a champagne truffle, a blend of fresh cream, butter, and chocolate with a champagne cream center, dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Chocolates are flown to Teuscher stores worldwide weekly.

La Maison du Chocolat Created in 1977 by Robert Linxe. la Maison du Chocolat sets the benchmark for his unusual and subtle associations of natural flavors coupled with chocolates from different origins. Main boutique shops are located in Paris, New York, and London. Chocolate can be purchased online. La Maison du Chocolat remains our favorite pick.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois, USA). Owner and chocolatier Katrina Markoff chooses every spice, flower, and chocolate that is flown into the Vosges kitchen to be transformed into fine chocolates. She learned the art of French confectionery at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Further inspired by her global apprenticeships, infusions of rare spices and flowers are combined with premium chocolate in truffles such as Mexican vanilla bean and Argentinean dulce de leche.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. (Berkeley, California, USA). Specializing in dark chocolate, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker is a premier chocolate manufacturer. It executes each step of the manufacturing process itself, all the way from bean to bar, to ensure that its finished chocolate delivers a flavor like no other. The chocolate-makers first find the finest cacao available, then carefully taste and blend beans of different origins to create a unique flavor profile. All the chocolate is made in small batches using artisanal manufacturing methods. In addition to its ready-to-eat bars, Scharffen Berger makes a variety of baking chocolates.

Richart Design et Chocolat . Richart are smaller, and the flavors are more exotic. Michel Richart is fond of using exotic spices and herbs, and likes to make tiny chocolates that are just one mouthful. In the NY store the chocolates are flown in twice a week from Lyon, France 80 year old chocolate gallery - inventive flavors - with an accent on fruit, spice or flower-flavoured ganaches. Stores in Paris, Lyon, Barcelona, Milan, Tokyo, New York.

Jacques Genin from Paris. Mort Rosenblum picks Jacque Genin as his top Chocolatier. The only problem is that Jacques Genin does not have a chocolate boutique, instead he sends his creations in chocolate off to Alain Ducasse's restaurants, hotels like the George V and Crillon, and luxury-food purveyor Hédiard. Genin recently began taking customers into his workshop on a quiet residential street.

Jacques Torres Chocolate (New York, New York, USA). When you step into Jacques Torres Chocolate, you feel as though you’ve stepped into a small European specialty store. Many customers compare the experience to the movie Chocolat. Jacques specializes in fresh, handcrafted chocolates. Eat them there, where cafe tables encourage you to sit, sip hot chocolate, and enjoy a freshly baked pain au chocolat — or take a selection home. Visitors often can see the chocolate goodies being prepared behind large glass windows. There are five Jacques Torres Chocolate shops in the city, plus one in Harrah’s in Atlantic City.

Norman Love Confections (Ft. Myers, Florida, USA). “Chocolate is my passion,” says Norman Love, who dreamed of making chocolate that was visually stunning as well as delicious. Love and a partner perfected a technique in which the colored designs for each candy are hand-painted or airbrushed into chocolate molds, which are then filled with the finest chocolate imported from Belgium, France, and Switzerland. The pumpkin white chocolate bonbon is almost too gorgeous to eat. Using only the freshest ingredients, his recipes call for pureed raspberries, bananas, ginger, caramel, passionfruit, and hazelnuts, to name a few.

Amedei's Chauo .The Italian chocolate maker, Alessio Tessieri, owner of Amedei, a small chocolate works in Tuscany, has secured himself the exclusive rights to the Venezuelan plantation where the legendary Chuao cocoa bean is grown. His sister Cecilia is the master chocolate maker and has formulated a chocolate so unique that it has won over even a highly discerning chef like Heinz Beck. The newly formed Academy of Chocolate in London has named Chauo the best chocolate in the world. Chauo won the Gold Medal. Chauo won "because of its fruity flavor and unique character".

Jean-Paul Hévin 23 bis avenue de la Motte Picquet Paris, France. A pastry chef by the time he was 24 years old, Jean-Paul Hévin started out at the Hôtel Intercontinental and then worked at the Hôtel Nikko from 1976 until 1988, where he spent seven creative, discovery-filled years pursuing his craft alongside Joël Robuchon. Cheese-flavored chocolates (with tastes like Camembert, goat cheese, and Roquefort) are as outrageous as they are offbeat. Moreover, each variety features a flavor-enhancing dried fruit, herb, or spice.

Michel Cluizel - "La Boutique Michel Cluizel" displays Michel Cluizel's main products in the heart of Paris, 201 rue Saint Honoré. Since 1948, Michel Cluizel is one of the rare chocolate manufacturers to process cocoa beans. Assisted by his four children, he elaborates exceptional chocolates in his Chocolaterie, in the south of Normandy. Selections: Created in Michel Cluizel's chocolaterie, with a blend of cocoa beans from several origins, these fine dark and milk chocolate stand out from others by their cocoa content or specific added ingredients. Noir de Cacao 72% Grand Noir 85% Noir Infini 99% Noir au Café (coffee) Noir aux Ecorces d'Orange (orange peel) Noir au Grué de Cacao (cocoa nibs) Noir au Praliné à l'Ancienne Grand Lait 45% (milk) Grand Lait aux Noisettes (milk / haselnuts).

Valrhona (France). Valrhona has been creating exceptional gourmet chocolate since 1922, with cocoa beans purchased directly from premier plantations in South America, the Caribbean, and Pacific regions. The chocolate, made in the French style, comes in a variety of bars. Valrhona was one of the first chocolatiers to describe its chocolate like wine, labeling creations as grand cru, single origins, single estate, and vintage chocolate from bean to bar. In 2008, it introduced spicy, salty Xocopili.

Godiva Chocolatier (Brussels, Belgium and worldwide). The beginning of Godiva chocolates traces back to a 1920s chocolate- and sweet-making workshop owned and operated by the Draps family in Brussels, Belgium. Their “pralines,” typical Belgian filled chocolates, were sold in the large, highly fashionable shops. At the age of 14, Joseph Draps went into the family business. Over the years, he developed both his ability and creative talent as a master chocolate-maker as well as his business sense. He decided to create a prestige range of chocolates and to give it an evocative name. He chose “Godiva” and marketed his chocolates in instantly recognizable gold boxes. In recognition of its excellence, Godiva has been rewarded with an appointment as supplier to the Court of Belgium. Godiva continues to be an innovator in gourmet chocolate.

Christian Constant -37, rue d'Assas, Paris - Mr. Constant is a master chocolatier who travels the world to garner the best ingredients for his creations. He makes the chocolates from the finest cocoa liquor and cocoa butter. The flavors are delicious and subtle. The sugar addition is just enough, so the texture is incredibly smooth. Mr. Constant offers four different hot chocolates, described with adjectives like onctueux, cremeux and parfumé.Dave Lebovitz's (author of the Great Book of Chocolate) pick is the glossy slick as ice tarte au chocolate with a rich chocolate crust.

Pierre Marcolini -Stores in Brussels, France, Japan, UK and New York. Pierre is one of only two Belgian chocolatiers, and one of four in all of Europe , the title of chocolatier being bestowed solely upon those who select their beans, roast them and make their own basic ingredient, couverture. He uses only the finest cocoa beans from Venezuela, Madagascar, Ecuador and Mexico. New location for the signature collection of Pierre Marcolini is at: 485 Park Avenue, New York City. Products" Coeur Framboise -A bitter ganache with raspberry pulp coated with white chocolate, wide selection of bonbon's from different origins, herbal infusions.

Richard Donnelly Fine Chocolates (Santa Cruz, California, USA). These chocolates are unusual, to say the least. Richard Donnelly likes to push the chocolate experience by combining its rich tones — he uses Belgian and French chocolate — with ingredients such as lavender, chipotle, saffron, cardamom, and Earl Grey tea. Such innovation helped Donnelly win the Best Artisan award at the prestigious Euro Chocolate Festival in Perugia, Italy, just ten years after he opened his shop. To maintain quality and ensure freshness, Donnelly produces no more than 50 pounds of chocolate a day. If you need a break from the exotic and unusual flavors, try Donnelly’s white chocolate macadamia nut or a honey vanilla caramel. 

Richart (Paris, France). Committed to quality, the French chocolate-maker Richart guarantees you the most refined chocolates from the most refined ingredients. Richart recipes, developed and tested by the Richart family, have won France’s most prestigious confectioner’s honor, the Ruban Bleu, seven times. Having perfected the art of chocolate making, Richart now focuses on enhanced flavors and distinctive designs and colors. A box of assorted chocolates is visually stunning. If you really want to impress, splurge on the $850 burlwood vault with seven drawers of chocolate — complete with temperature and humidity gauges

Puccini Bomboni (Amsterdam, Netherlands). You will actually have to visit Amsterdam to sample what may be the best chocolates in the Netherlands. The proprietors of Puccini Bomboni, a delightful cafe and restaurant, hand-make each chocolate on the premises and do not deliver. Exotic combinations of chocolate and spices, concocted from the freshest ingredients, are a specialty. Although the variety isn’t enormous, the quality is truly amazing.

Chocolate has been the center of several successful book and film adaptations. In 1964, Roald Dahl published a children's novel titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The novel centers on a poor boy named Charlie Bucket who takes a tour through the greatest chocolate factory in the world, owned by Willy Wonka. Two film adaptations of the novel were produced. The first was Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a 1971 film which later became a cult classic, and spawned the real world Willy Wonka Candy Company, which produces chocolate products to this day. Thirty-four years later, a second film adaptation was produced, titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 2005 film was very well received by critics and was one of the highest grossing films that year, earning over US$470,000,000 worldwide. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was also recognized at the 78th Academy Awards, where it was nominated for Best Costume Design for Gabriella Pesucci.

Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate), a 1989 love story by novelist Laura Esquivel, was adapted to film in 1992. The plot incorporates magical realism with Mexican cuisine, and the title is a double entendre in its native language, referring both to a recipe for hot chocolate and to an idiom that is a metaphor for sexual arousal. The film earned 11 Ariel Awards from the Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas, including Best Picture.

Chocolat, a 1999 novel by Joanne Harris, tells the story of Vianne Rocher, a young mother, whose confections change the lives of the townspeople. The 2000 film adaptation, Chocolat, also proved successful, grossing over US$150,000,000 worldwide, and receiving Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Original Score.