In 2022 the Craft Chocolat Challenge was born. We call it a challenge because it is more than just a regular contest. It is a challenge against yourself (a chocolate maker) as much as a contest against other chocolate makers. We provide feedback for all bars entered as well as prizes for winners. More details and past winners can be found on this website.
How It Works
This challenge is for Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers ONLY. It is geared to be more beneficial for small companies but any size maker worldwide may enter.
Entrants must meet the craft chocolate criteria we have put in place for this challenge. That simply put is, you need to know where your cacao is from and state that. (White Chocolate excluded) If you aren't big enough to do your own roasting/cracking/winnowing then Nib to Bar is fine, we all had to start somewhere as long as the cacao is ethically sourced and stated. (Blends are accepted, state every origin) You may NOT start with a liquor or any other form that has already been made by another maker. If you've entered the contest before you may NOT enter the same bar previously entered.
We allow up to 2 entries per maker with a maximum of 1 entry per category. There is no fee to enter or register. We require 8 bars for each entry to give to the panel of judges. They need to be full size, meaning the size you sell them at. If you have packaging for your bar then please send them in that as we will provide feedback for that as well. (Packaging will not count towards scoring for the contest) If you don't have packaging then you must provide an ingredients label on each bar for food safety.
We will provide you with all of the feedback we require judges to provide us with and these individuals will be from various backgrounds. We do not reveal the individual but you will know information about them so you can best understand their critique.
There are four categories, Dark Chocolate - Milk Chocolate - White Chocolate - Inclusions. This challenge is free of charge and made sustainable by sponsorships, donations and/or the host (us) paying the expenses.
Our goal is to help the growth of Craft Chocolate by helping the maker. We are not trying to label the "World's Best Chocolate", but rather help you make your best chocolate. The judges will experience your bar as if they have purchased it. They will study the packaging, the mold, and of course the actual bar from taste, texture, temper, mouthfeel, innovation, and presentation. The judges will relay their preferences to you and you may do as you please with that information. In our first contest we were able to correct some major packaging errors for a company and assist another with better mold ideas as well as recipe suggestions to name a few examples. If there is something specific you are wanting feedback about we will note that and make sure the judges are aware of those desires.
Aside from the feedback, the actual competition is very exciting. Each category has a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winner with no ties. There is also a Top Overall - 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winner with all the categories combined. For Season Three of the Craft Chocolat Challenge we are introducing an Innovation Award, up to three bars can achieve this award. Every award is accompanied by a physical award, digital seal, and a certificate. No payment is needed for any. (unless you live in a hard to ship country where the physical award is very costly to ship, we might ask for help then)
The Craft Chocolat Challenge is a head to head contest against your peers. The feedback will show you where you are overall as a chocolate maker, but the contest will show how strong a certain bar is against another. It can also help you decide on entering other contests that do have fees by testing your product here first. Then make the decision about spending money afterwards, one reason we make ours the first contest of the year.
For further information please check the FAQ below or send us a message through e-mail, Facebook or Instagram. If you would like to become a sponsor of this event please contact us, we are actively seeking sponsorship for the 2024 program. If you would like to donate to help us maintain this program please go to the Donate Page on this site. Your help would be greatly appreciated!
When is the contest?
The contest is open for entry from October - February. The judging will happen in March and winners are announced shortly after.
How do we enter?
There is an online form that must be filled out for each entry. 2024 entry form is posted now at the top of this page.
When do we send our bars?
Anytime between open entry and the cutoff. We start accepting entries in October and stop accepting February 21st. Bars need to arrive by February 28th. Late bars will not be judged.
Where do we send our bars?
1165 Highway 11 S
Beattyville, Kentucky 41311
(For international entries we will send additional details)
Who can enter the contest?
Any chocolate maker worldwide that ethically sources their beans (or nibs) and creates their own chocolate from beans or nibs. Chocolate makers must state the origin of the beans. (White Chocolate Excluded)
Do the bars have to be single origin?
No, blends are accepted but each origin needs to be stated.
How much does it cost to enter?
There are no fees.
How many bars can we enter?
Each chocolate maker may enter up to 2 bars, but only 1 bar per category is accepted.
How much chocolate do we send?
You need to send 8 full sized bars per entry. Full sized means the size you sell your bars. Typically that’s 2-3oz bars. Mini bars are harder for us to provide adequate feedback. If your bar is 1oz or under please contact us before entering.
How do we prepare the samples to send?
If you have packaging for your product send your bars complete in your retail packaging. If you don’t have packaging then send them in a plastic sleeve individually wrapped with an ingredients label on each.
What are the prizes?
The top 3 winners of each category will receive a physical award medal mailed to you. You will also receive a digital seal to use and an emailed certificate. There is zero charge for these but if your country is difficult to send the physical award medal to and shipping is in the hundreds of dollars we might need to discuss our options. In 2022 we shipped 3 awards internationally totally around $600. Sponsors covered these cost but if it would’ve been 12 awards at that same rate it would have been difficult. We encourage international participation and will do everything we can to cover all the costs. Just making that disclaimer.
What are the categories?
Top Overall (all categories combined)
Innovation Award (NEW for 2024)
Best Dark Chocolate
Best Milk Chocolate
Best White Chocolate
What is considered an inclusion?
We consider inclusions to be any physical ingredient on the bar or pieces inside the chocolate bar. For example, if you put coffee beans on the back of your milk chocolate bar it’s an inclusion. If you grind the coffee with the nibs and it’s smooth like the rest of the milk chocolate then it’s not an inclusion, that would be considered milk chocolate. (Please try to submit to the correct category but we will adjust if not submitted correctly)
What is an Innovation Award?
Created for Season 3, this award is for bars that could be too polarizing to win a regular award but unique and great it their own way. Judges will determine if a bar is innovative or not and a certain threshold will need to be met to determine if an award is given for that bar. A maximum of three bars can achieve this award, there is no tier for this award nor is it a separate category for entry.
How do we get the feedback?
We will email you the feedback. Typically not long after the contest concludes.