Dark chocolate: Storage, shelf-life and spoilage

Dark chocolate (43% cocoa or more with no animal or vegetable milk)

It’s one of those foods that you can find in most households, known and appreciated by all, but do we know how to store it, how long to keep it for and what to do when we find an unappealing, greyish-looking leftover bar?

The experts at CriolloQuetzal have compiled a list of what you should know about this subject so that you can get the most pleasure and avoid any waste.


How long can you keep dark chocolate?

Pretty much indefinitely, although there are 3 phrases which should be pointed out:

  1. The chocolate has a Best Before Date (B.B.D) This is a regulatory date imposed by legislation in the producing country. The flavour, smell and nutritional qualities of the chocolate will be optimal between 1-2 years after production.
  2. After this date, you really shouldn’t throw your dark chocolate away, it is perfectly edible: the smell only disappears after 3 years and the taste only after 5 years.
  3. After 5 years, you can still use it, although it is in your interest to transform it. Melt it with fresh chocolate and put it in a mixture or grate it into shavings to decorate your pastries or other recipes.

When is dark chocolate not fit for consumption?

Almost never! Dark chocolate that hasn’t been attacked by mould, which is immediately recognizable on the surface, can be consumed almost indefinitely.

Mould can appear if it has been stored in a damp environment (kitchen or cellar), if it has been in contact with liquids (e.g. a drink or syrup that has leaked in a cupboard) or in contact with fresh or slightly processed foods like fruit paste in a box of sweets.)

Why has my dark chocolate turned white? What can I do?

Dark chocolate with a layer of white film on the upper surface has been subjected to extreme or sudden temperature changes. The fats within have simply risen to the surface.

Dark chocolate with a slimy, whitish layer on one side or more is the result of being stored in an environment which is too humid. The sugar has started to melt and formed a thin, sticky surface.

In both cases, don’t panic! Taste a little bit and if it’s still good, eat it without hesitation.  If it’s a bit bland, use it for cooking.

In fact – how and where do I keep my dark chocolate?

Simply in a cool, dry place without any direct sunlight.  Technically speaking: in a cupboard, between 16-20 degrees Celsius with 56-60% humidity.


And to end, with a little Fun-Fact:  You must know Amaury Guichon, the French-Swiss pastry and chocolate star with millions of followers.

Creator of a chocolate academy in Los Vegas and especially known for the incredibly large chocolate sculptures, his big dream is to open a museum with all his works.  And according to him, there is no problem of conservation: he estimates the life-span of these sculptures, made out of pure dark chocolate, to be an incredible 25 years!

CriolloQuetzal and the Swiss world of Bean-to-Bar and Tree-to-Bar chocolate

Bean-to-Bar and Tree-to-Bar chocolate in Switzerland


The Bean-to-Bar movement appeared in the 2000's and has been followed by many chocolate makers around the world whose goal it is to control every step of the production chain. A few years ago, this concept made its way to Switzerland, the Land of chocolate!

A Bean-to-Bar chocolatier sources beans from cocoa producers or cooperatives distributing them, and then carries out every step of their transformation until the final product, a chocolate bar. Some may think that that’s how all chocolate is made, but in fact, less than 1% of the world's chocolate is produced in this way, giving the Bean-to-Bar approach a whole new meaning and so much more value.

Indeed, if we exclude industrial chocolate and focus only on artisanal production of small and medium-sized chocolate makers, we discover that the vast majority of their sweets are actually made from semi-finished products supplied by the food industry. Couverture chocolate bought in bulk is melted, poured and molded or assembled by these chocolate makers. The bars, truffles and Easter bunnies, sometimes topped with spices or other more or less original inclusions, are then sold at a relatively high price.

The actual, all too rare artisan chocolatiers are those who have mastered all the processing and manufacturing techniques of the beans themselves. Bean-to-Bar artisans also care about knowing exactly where their raw material comes from, who grows it, and in what working conditions.

In Switzerland, some small artisanal chocolate makers offer Bean-to-Bar products. In those cases, the designation is clearly stated on the product, implying that their other chocolate is not Bean-to-Bar. One example is a delicious pure origin Cameroon bar made and sold by Espace Chocolat (Lausanne and Yverdon) and sourced from recently certified organic estate Noa Noa.

As for medium-sized producers, we’d like to highlight Geneva-based Orfève's rare and ultra-elegant products; Adliswil-based Taucherli’s bars made from beans sourced with the greatest respect; or Zurich-based Garçoa’s organic and oh-so beautiful products. These chocolates, as well as many others that we encourage you to discover, can be purchased through other specialized retailers such as Chocolats du Monde.

Wanting to take the concept even further, some chocolate makers have developed the idea of Tree-to-Bar which, in addition to all the above, means that the producer has mastered the art of growing cocoa as well as harvesting, fermenting and drying it.

Very few producers in the world have these skills, but those who are part of this very small group can boast complete control over the entire production chain of their chocolate, from A to Z. They do not rely on any external supplier other than those from whom they purchase sugar or any other inclusions added to their bars. Almost all Tree-to-Bar producers, such as Soklet in India, Baianí in Brazil or  TBros in Vietnam, are located in the country where their cocoa is grown. Very few of these high-quality products can be found in specialized shops in Switzerland and Europe.

CriolloQuetzal Swiss Bean-to-Bar Tree-to-Bar chocolateAt CriolloQuetzal, our mission is not only to introduce chocolate lovers to the exceptional products of the best Bean-to-Bar and Tree-to-Bar chocolate makers, but also to offer these artisans access to the Swiss and European markets. Therefore, we have made the choice not to offer items produced by Swiss chocolate makers, but only rare products, made in small quantities in cocoa-producing countries with the best fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

We work according to the principles of direct trade, i.e., without any intermediaries, guaranteeing that 50% of the selling price of the bar remains in the producing country, as opposed to 5-7% for a so-called "Fairtrade" product bought in Switzerland, and we financially support the social and ecological measures implemented by our partners. We import their products to Switzerland and sell them directly on our e-boutique to the final consumer, all with a zero-carbon footprint because we compensate all CO2 emissions we generate.

The dangers of global warming and climate change for cocoa farming and chocolate production

Global warming and climate change endanger cocoa cultivation and chocolate production


Recently, dry season temperatures have peaked to levels not seen before and have become as problematic for cocoa farmers as the lack of water or new diseases.

The regions that are clearly most vulnerable to global warming are all located in West Africa, mainly in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, the two countries that currently account for almost 60% of global cocoa production... We can therefore legitimately assert that the global cocoa production is on the verge of a major upheaval.

But it is also becoming increasingly clear that there are major disparities between the different regions of the world in terms of their vulnerability to these changes. There are even certain regions previously considered unsuitable for cocoa production that are becoming new Eldorados.

dangers global warming climate change cocoa farming chocolate productionIf we look more closely at the effects of these extreme temperatures, we see a pattern emerge that is always the same: the tops of the cocoa trees dry out, burnt by the sun, the trees no longer grow normally, they blossom at times that are difficult to predict and therefore yield much less  (either before or after the usual harvest season). Given that the fruit (pods) should mature during the wet season, they often rot on the trees and new diseases deform those that survive.

As a result, an increasing amount of cocoa trees are lost, the production area and thus the cocoa production per plot decreases, with dramatic consequences for the farmers who suffer the consequences of this vicious circle, spiraling downwards:

There is a serious humanitarian drama in the making for those who live off the land as their revenues dwindle year after year, and an enormous environmental challenge in the regions which are starting out in this field and must avoid making the same mistakes.

Fortunately there are alternatives, the challenge being to train millions of local farmers which can only be done in fair and short production chains with the support of local stakeholders. At the end of the line, it’s the consumer who has to agree to buy from committed distributors and pay the price for the chocolate they love so much and want to enjoy in the future.

Agroforestry: past and future of cocoa farming

Agroforestry: past and future of cocoa farming


Before speaking about the future, let’s speak about the past! Initially, the cocoa tree was part of the undergrowth in the Amazon forest. In other words, it grows in the shade provided from taller trees and forms part of a, primarily, self-sufficient ecosystem.

This is how it was cultivated up to the 70s. From then, on most of the farmers capitulated to the demands of certain multi-national companies offering new types of cocoa trees which were pushed to the limit to yield maximum returns... and required in the process was (but this was written in fine print) an enormous amount of water, fertilizers and pesticides!

This was followed by increasingly intense deforestation, causing irreversible soil erosion and subsequent impoverishment of the local farmers, a situation which has continued to date, mainly in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced.

It was only recently that we realised the industry was in danger of going up the spout. We thought the solution would come from a rigorous selection of different varieties of chocolate trees tolerant to drought and new diseases. Then we needed to add resistance to extreme high temperatures.  Finally, we realized that the only viable, sustainable, and effective solution stems from tailor-made agroforestry techniques.

Agroforestry past future cocoa farming

Agroforestry is therefore a set of practices consisting of associating protective and bio-regulating trees with crops, with the aim of (re)creating self-sufficient ecosystems.

The reason we are attempting to relaunch these agroforestry techniques today is because they are clearly THE solution to guarantee not only a future for local populations of farmers but also for the sustainability of the chocolate sector and, at the same time, the earth’s climate. To convince you, in a nutshell, here are the advantages of this method:

Water requirements: None. It is self-sufficient on rainwater.

Pesticide dependence: Much lower than in monocultures. Pests are controlled naturally through the diversity of the Flora.

Fertiliser dependence:  Much lower than in monoculture because biological life is prioritised, as is water infiltration and the incorporation of organic matter.

Dependence on the fluctuations in the world price of cocoa: Largely mitigated because the cultivation of different varieties of fruit trees on the same plot in the undergrowth provides diversification of income to farmers. Cocoa trees can even be left uncultivated for a few years with this form of cultivation and then be reactivated once the price of cocoa starts to rise again.

Carbon storage: 18 times higher than in monoculture, representing a real gain for the climate.

Yields: Same as in monocultures (approx. 900 kg per hectare).

Life span of cocoa trees: 50 years, much longer than in intensive cultivation.

Agroforestry cocoa farming is therefore truly synonymous with the future, the challenge being to train millions of small farmers around the world in this technique and to create the conditions necessary for its implementation.

By working exclusively with local chocolate makers who care about the economic, social and ecological future of their region, we are doing everything we can to support this transition and guarantee a sustainable future for the entire chocolate industry.


For more information:

CIRAD - Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, a wealth of information on sustainable development in tropical regions.

CACAOFOREST - An organisation of various research institutes and chocolate makers whose common goal is to invent the future of sustainable cocoa.

The Netflix series Rotten – episode Bitter chocolate

We watched the Bitter Chocolate episode of the Netflix series Rotten


One of the main goals of CriolloQuetzal is to totally bypass the established industrial channels in the chocolate market. This idea is at the heart of our project: we collaborate exclusively with Bean-to-bar and Tree-to-bar chocolate makers, those who control the entire production chain, from bean or tree-to-bar, directly in the cocoa producing countries.  It’s the only way to guarantee high quality chocolate and ensure that local populations benefit directly from any valued Added.


Everything started when Thierry, our founder, visited the cocoa farms in Columbia several years ago. It was the first time that he had heard about the Bean-to-bar and Tree-to bar concept which raised his curiosity.  This discovery, and the research that followed, opened his eyes to the problems in the international cocoa and chocolate market. This is how the Criolloquetzal project was born.

The episode Bitter Chocolate in the series Rotten (Netflix) explains and analyses these problems perfectly by examining the situation in the Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa producer in the world.  Some impressive figures: 40% of the cocoa consumed in the world comes from the Ivory Coast.  It represents around 15% of the country’s GDP and two-thirds of the population work, in one way or another, in this market.  Some 2 million tons of cocoa are produced in the Ivory Coast every year.

In a 55-minute episode packed with facts and figures, each more shocking than the next, we get to understand the enormous gap between the standard of living of those who run and control the cocoa market and those who work at the source, namely, the farmers.

In the Ivory Coast, they earn less than one dollar a day, while the chocolate industry generates more than 100 billion dollars per year globally.  From the moment the cocoa is harvested and the chocolate bar produced, the raw product changes hands between numerous intermediaries each take a higher cut than the last, and the main culprits are the gigantic international groups based in Europe or the USA.

The women and men who supply the raw materials are trapped in a system which is almost impossible to leave.  Short of solutions, some are forced to destroy the nature reserves, amongst others, to produce more cocoa. The Ivory coast is said to have lost roughly 85% of its forests since 1990, a real ecological disaster. But as Antonie Fountain, one of the experts interviewed in Bitter Chocolate, rightly says “If you have a choice, as a poor farmer, between protecting the rainforest and feeding your family, then you don’t have a choice.”

Scandals about slavery and child labor are reported regularly. Despite the outrage of the international community, little seems to have changed and the outrage is waning little by little… The priorities of the regulatory bodies and governments are clear:  cocoa must circulate at all costs (literally). Regulating and controlling working conditions nationally, or even internationally, would be more expensive and much less profitable.

On top of that, there is violence and corruption, extremely hard physical work, and the fact that all those who form part of this precarious supply chain are subjected to price fluctuations on the commodities exchange, accentuates the problem:  if the price of cocoa lost 50% of its value tomorrow, the price of industrial chocolate wouldn’t move a cent.  The big chocolate manufacturers would simply make more money because they could buy the raw material at a lower price.  The farmers in Ghana and Columbia or India would receive 50% less for their harvest. Pure injustice – no need to look further.

I’m going to end with a quote from Henk Jan Beltman from Tony’s Chocolonely, a chocolate brand based in the Netherlands whose mission is to produce 100% slave-free chocolate. Beltman explains in the first minutes of Bitter Chocolate, that chocolate is the best tasting food there is and it is our duty to know where the cocoa comes from.  “ if you know what’s going on in the beginning of the value chain, it’s not possible to enjoy chocolate”.

He’s right.  He makes his point throughout the documentary and in case it’s still not clear, we strongly recommend watching it!  Everyone can learn a lot and I hope that watching this episode will influence many of you to change your consumer habits.

Finally, I want to reassure you: not everything is negative.  Bitter Chocolate shows us that there are many players who are very aware of the injustices prevalent in the cocoa market, and they are trying to find solutions. I have listed some of them below.

I hope you enjoy watching, with a delicious bar from our shop which will encourage you to participate actively in changing the current state of affairs.

Netflix series Rotten episode Bitter chocolate

VOICENETWORK An NGO that works for cocoa sector reform. Antonie Fountain, who I quoted in the article is executive director

ORLARYAN Órla Ryan is a journalist of Irish origin. She is one of the experts interviewed in Bitter Chocolate and has written a book called Chocolate Nations which details the injustices in the cocoa industry.

TONYSCHOCOLONELY Tony’s Chocolonely website. They regularly publish articles and news on their News page, about their project and also on the risks in the cocoa sector around the world


Snapshot of the virtues and rare drawbacks of dark chocolate

Virtues, benefits and drawbacks of dark chocolate


Did you, like me, jump for joy when you found out that chocolate, like red wine and coffee can, in fact, be good for your health?

I don’t know about you, but I thought it was great news …so much so that I really wanted to  look into it ...not only out of intellectual curiosity but also and especially because everyone should treat themselves!

It is important to point out that we are mainly talking about dark chocolate here… and what do you know, as luck would have it, that is exactly what we have at CriolloQuetzal! By definition, dark chocolate contains at least 43% of cocoa  and can contain up to 100% (yes, yes!)

Logically, the more cocoa there is, the less the sugar content – I won’t give you details about the harmful effects of sugar, you know them. On the other hand, dark chocolate is also made from cocoa butter, which contains fats, so be careful not to indulge too much. MO-DE-RA-TION!

The cocoa originates from America.  Up to the XVIth century, it was consumed as a drink and was used for its energizing properties, even medicinal (cocoa butter, for example as a healing balm). Even though the utilization and preparation are totally different (link to the Chocolate Glossary) nowadays, its virtues are as numerous.

Snapshot virtues rare drawbacks dark chocolateAs the French chocologist Victoire Finaz explains, “it’s in the cocoa, the raw material, where the most important source of antioxidants is found. “It turns out that it contains more antioxidants than green tea or red wine.

On top of that, chocolate contains other essential nutrients such as magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamin D”.  It even contains fluoride! But let’s not exaggerate, we can’t claim that chocolate replaces toothpaste.

Eating dark chocolate regularly is good for the cardiovascular system, helps eliminate cholesterol and slows down skin aging.  It is also a stimulant, thanks to the theobromine and caffeine, the latter in much smaller quantities than in coffee.

In addition to the benefits of cocoa as a food, cocoa butter is also very good for the skin because of its moisturizing properties.

Beyond the physical effects, so to speak, chocolate acts in a significant manner on the brain.  Its antidepressant properties have been established.  Victoire Finaz specifies that chocolate “triggers the secretion of endorphins in our brain which are pleasure molecules. They are euphoric and calming, reduce anxiety, regulate moods and provoke a state of euphoria leading to a feeling of well-being.

The most recent studies have also shown that cocoa stimulates our nervous system and improves our concentration and memory.

So, not too bad, right?  Of course, we mustn’t forget that what’s important is to have a balanced diet! But the next time you’re thinking about having an extra piece, or you’re shopping and see that chilli 70% cocoa chocolate bar, telling yourself, “I really shouldn’t…..” simply do not hesitate and treat your taste-buds, your heart and your body.


« Chocolat, l’art de la chocologie et de la dégustation », « Chocolat, voyage au cœur de la culture du chocolat », www.futura-sciences.com


CriolloQuetzal chocolate: A brief story about our logo and name

CriolloQuetzal chocolate: Story about our logo and name


“ Krï-ooooloo-ketze-alle, isn’t an easy name for a company , eh…! “

Granted, we made it a bit more complex than other big chocolate brands, but like everything we do, we do it for a good reason!

CriolloQuetzal chocolate nameThe criollo is certainly the most extraordinary, rare and delicious cocoa amongst the 4 existing varieties, the one we are looking for in the four corners of the world for you to discover the original aromas of chocolate. It was therefore logical that its name be featured in the name of the company we were about to create.

The quetzal, however, is a beautiful and colourful tropical bird that lives in the cocoa plantation regions of Central and Northern Latin America. It had already been worshiped for its lavish plumage in the time of the Aztecs and Mayans and was therefore literally pre-destined to become our mascot.

CriolloQuetzal chocolate logo Blaise MagnenatAnd so it came to be that a rare bean and a sacred bird with its five-coloured plumage appeared on the moodboards of the creative team in our communications studio, whose mission was to develop our logo and graphic charts for a lot of coff…no… chocolate. You can imagine that the result was a winged bean (graphic transposition of CrilloQuetzal) and that the five colours of the feathers of our mythical bird, red, green, blue, yellow and purple would become the colour codes of the five regions of origin of our exceptional chocolates …. ah creativity, what an amazing job and we thank them, especially for their foresight and leader BlaiseMagnenat.

Here you are, now you know everything and it’s not even as complicated to pronounce as it looks: