THEY have “brew bars”, single-origin beans and hessian sacks from exotic lands. Sound familiar? Posh chocolate shops are springing up in the hip neighbourhoods where coffee culture long ago took root. All the talk is of aromas and sustainability—the usual stuff of craft products that makes it seem stingy not to fork out £7.50 ($10) for something that disappears in a few mouthfuls.

“Coffee has paved the way for chocolate,” says Lani Kingston, the boss in London of Mast Brothers, a well-known Brooklyn-based chocolate-maker that came to Britain last year. For a while it even had to fend off intrigue over whether it had melted another maker’s squares into its own bars, such is the growing fascination with artisanal chocolate.

More established chocolatiers are trying to do for the stuff what Starbucks once did for coffee—investing a commoditised product with a dash of high-street chic. Last year Ferrero Rocher, an Italian brand, bought Thorntons, a UK chocolate retailer with almost 250 stores. Lindt and Sprüngli, owner of Switzerland’s best-known brand, aims to become the world’s biggest retailer of premium chocolate in…Continue reading