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Fine cacao and chocolate products have proliferated in recent years, and at the same time concerned consumers have sought more education and transparency in relation to the food they eat. The development of meaningful and widespread standards for social and environmental responsibility is ongoing in the chocolate industry, and the Good Food Awards chocolate category recognizes those bean-to-bar makers who are leading the way, creating truly quality bars in every sense.


The Good Food Awards rely on the expertise of the chocolate community to create the tasting, determine judges and set standards for the category. Read on to learn who has been integral to building the category, as well as what the chocolate standard are and who will be judging this year.



R. Brian Cisneros

Founder & CEO at Northwest Chocolate Festival; Specialty Chocolate Association, The Chocolate Alliance

R. Brian Cisneros is the co-founder of The Chocolate Alliance a social-purpose company dedicated to supporting the Artisan Chocolate industry through special events and community initiatives focused on consumer and professional education. Brian is the founder of the Northwest Chocolate Festival, established in 2008 and now one of the top shows in the world for craft chocolate. He is the founder and director of the Chocolate Makers UnConference, the first dialogue based gathering for the cocoa supply chain. In 2020 Brian and colleagues co-founded the first organization dedicated to rewarding the specialty cocoa growers and artisan chocolate makers around the world by recognizing the unique flavor profiles, agricultural and manufacturing efforts, and geographical terroir of specialty cacao. This new non-profit organization, the Specialty Cocoa Association, has a diverse global mission with a focus on bringing farmers into the spotlight to create a transparent, socially-just, and equitable supply chain for artisan chocolate. Brian’s current project is developing sensory guidelines for cocoa and chocolate product evaluation for use by members of the specialty chocolate industry.

Lawrence Nussbaum

Senior Consultant at Environmental Innovations

A passionate chocofile and sustainable food advocate, Lawrence has served as the Education Director for the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle since 2015. He organizes numerous chocolate tastings, workshops, and events and has traveled throughout the tropics, immersing himself in cacao culture and sustainability. With a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Lawrence has spent the past 20 years working with mission-driven businesses in food and agriculture, as well as a variety of other sectors, to reduce environmental impacts, support social equity, and make credible claims in the marketplace. A portfolio of projects can be seen at www.sustainable-source.com.

Committee Members

Lynne Simon, Forager, Garten Market


To be eligible for the Good Food Awards, chocolate entries must meet the following standards:

  • Made by the entrant from bean to bar in the USA or US territories.
  • Free of artificial ingredients, including colors, flavors and preservatives.
  • Free of genetically modified ingredients.
  • All ingredients are grown with minimal or no use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
  • Adherent to the FDA standards of identity for chocolate.
  • Available for retail sale in the 2022 calendar year, prior to September.
  • Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, committed to equity and inclusion in all levels of their business,* as exemplified through integrating these practices:
    • Offering a diversity, equity, and inclusion training to staff members and/or leadership annually.
    • Thoughtfully acknowledging the heritage of culturally-specific food on websites, packaging and/or marketing materials.
    • For the small percentage of Good Food community that operates on a significantly larger scale, meeting additional criteria related to board diversity, maternity leave and employment practices.*

Cacao must be sourced in compliance with the following standards:

  • The origin of beans must be traceable, ordinarily to a particular growing region of a country and ideally to a processing facility, farm or cooperative.
  • Bean sourcers must ensure that price premiums meet or exceed Fair Trade minimums relative to the world commodity price, either through direct trade or through publicly stated policies and in-place processes.
  • Sourced with price transparency throughout the supply chain.
  • Wherever possible, sourced from farms or cooperatives where transparent, documented practices ensure fair and humane work standards for all laborers.
  • Sourced from farms or cooperatives with a transparent, documented emphasis on sustainable farming practices including: water conservation and minimizing or eliminating use of synthetic inputs.

Other ingredients (cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla, milk powder, flavorings, inclusions, etc.) must be sourced in compliance with the following standards:

  • Traceable.
  • Wherever possible, sourced from farms or cooperatives where transparent, documented practices ensure fair and humane work standards for all laborers.
  • All dairy and other animal-derived products should be sourced in compliance with the GAP guidelines that define “good animal husbandry.”**
  • Sugar must be organic or Fair Trade certified.***

*Check if you are in the 2% of companies meeting the Good Food Foundation definition of large scale, and review the addition criteria on the Rules & Regulations page.
**For ingredients that cannot be traced for animal welfare, such as milk powder, organic certification will be accepted.
***Sugar traceable to the farm level will be evaluated on a case by case basis


Additionally, chocolate entries must fit within one of the following four subcategories of bars, containing no ingredients other than those listed:

  • Dark chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla).
  • Milk chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla).
  • White chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla). Cocoa butter must be pressed in house.
  • Flavored or inclusion bars (containing at least one ingredient other than those permitted for dark, milk, or white bars).

2022 Judges

Hetal Vasavada

Founder, Milk and Cardamom

Laurie Mackenzie

Chef Instructor, City College of San Francisco

Mokhtar Alkhanshali

Founder, CEO, Port of Mokha

Rebecca Taylor-Roseman

Chocolate Researcher

Christine Doerr

Founder/Chocolatier, NeoCocoa Confections, NeoCocoa Confections

Brian Wood

Founder, CEO, Starter Bakery

Jay Holecek

Chocoholic, WholeCraft

Mallory Roth

Learning Experience Designer, Miro

Sara Stadulis

Researcher, Berkeley Fermentation Science

Bob Goldfarb

Owner, Cocoazoo.com

Nora Haron

Executive Chef, Table at 7

Bianca Kaprielian

CEO and Co-owner, Fruit World

David Bordow

Designer + Chef, Creator

Ryan Rodrigues

Store Manager/Grocery Buyer, Real Food Company

Megan Costello

Chief Chocolate Officer, Costello Chocolate