Here is Why Chocolate Is the Most Affordable Luxury in The World
“Luxury will always be around, no matter what happens in the world.” – Carolina Herrera
The definition of luxury has many connotations and nuances and it can mean different things to different people. What is a normal state, experience or purchase for somebody can be out-of-reach, too expensive and unthinkable for others. Also in somebody’s lifetime the concept of luxury can change many times.
There are no objective or static luxuries. To give a definition that applies to any personal circumstance, a luxury usually involves a state of great comfort and abundance, and it refers to something that is not a necessity but a plus, a treat or an extravagance that has a higher-than-average price tag on it.
When it comes to food and drinks, luxury can refer to either a rare ingredient that is hard to find or a well-known food or drink in its highest-quality version. Beluga caviar, white Alba truffles and Kobe beef can be considered luxury foods, and a Don Julio Real Tequila and a Sam Adams Utopia beer are among the most luxurious drinks of all times.
These items are in the $200+ price range and are the top quality in their categories. Actually, there is a luxury segment for any food and drink category you can think of! So what about chocolate? Can chocolate be considered a luxurious food?
Although hot chocolate started out as a beverage for the elite (both among Maya and Aztecs, and later on among European aristocrats), chocolate had officially stopped being a luxury food in 1894 when the American company Hershey’s made the first mass-produced chocolate.
Thanks to standardized and large-scale manufacturing processes, the brand turned chocolate into an affordable product that consumers of any social class could enjoy. This is what propelled the reputation of chocolate as an everyday, cheap and readily available food.
To this day, few people even know about the existence of a luxury segment in the chocolate industry. For example, many consumers believe chocolate bars with a price tag of $4 to already be luxurious, since we are so used to viewing chocolate as an extremely cheap food.
However, chocolate’s reputation changed again with the appearance of craft chocolate on the market around the year 2006: this chocolate was not considered luxurious for an expensive added ingredient or a fancy packaging, but because it was made with the finest and most flavorful cocoa beans from around the world. This kind of chocolate, that is only getting more popular year after year, checks off all the characteristics of a luxury food.
1) High quality ingredients
Craft chocolate makers source fine cacao from the best producers from all around the world, being extremely picky in their choices and adapting the chocolate making process to each peculiar origin. The raw cacao is paid up to 5 and even 10 times more than the average market price. This cacao is especially sought after for its exceptional genetics and care in the post-harvesting processes, a quite different choice from the bulk, bland and cheap cacao used by large-scale manufacturers. Any added ingredient is also attentively sourced based on quality and fine flavours.
2) Limited quantities available
The most luxurious chocolate in the world is crafted by family-owned and small-scale businesses that usually employ few people, operate from one single chocolate factory and make small batches of products at a time. Their quantities are extremely low and limited compared to mass-produced chocolate, making every creation truly unique. These companies sell limited editions, small batches and seasonal releases based on their creativity, often selling out and putting certain products on hold until they get their hands on their preferred raw materials again.
3) Minimal, slow and artisan process
You will find few machines and little automatisation in the small factories of these artisans. A lot of human labor goes into this chocolate that requires the expertise, attention and care of a master chocolate maker for long hours. The chocolate-making steps are kept to a minimum, and the process is slow and steady to allow every ingredient to develop its best flavours. From hand sorting the cocoa beans to hand wrapping the finished bars, many steps of craft chocolate are the quintessence of craftsmanship and slow food.
4) Refined presentation
All luxury food is presented at its best in a packaging worth the price tag, and craft chocolate is no exception. With a large variety of mesmerising styles, custom moulds and professional designs, craft chocolate packaging is definitely part of the luxurious experience.
But how much does this luxury cost? Here comes the most surprising part: a craft chocolate bar from an internationally renowned and multiple-award winning brand can cost between $8 and $15. This is the best chocolate in the world we are talking about!
If many consumers will never be able to afford a sip of the most prestigious vintage wine, or a bite of the best variety of oysters in the world, a large plethora of chocoholics will be able to taste the best chocolate in the world at least once or several times in their lives.
In what other food or drink categories would you be given the chance to savour the best of the best for just a few dollars? This is also why many professionals in the industry see craft chocolate as hugely underpriced for the amount of labor and high-quality ingredients that go into every creation, and for this reason some companies like To’ak Chocolate started pricing their bars at a whopping price of $250.
So here is my personal suggestion: take advantage of the affordable price of craft chocolate now before a 70% vintage Madagascar dark chocolate bar becomes as expensive as a bottle of 2015 red Bordeaux wine.
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