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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, M.A. began organizing the first craft chocolate event in North America that focused on chocolate consumer education as a springboard for social justice in 2007. Brian’s work has made a significant impact in popularizing craft chocolate in North America through 15-years of large-scale events that share the voices of cacao farmers and provide pathways-to-market for small chocolate makers. Brian is currently focused on specialty chocolate quality standards and the development of the specialty cocoa sector as a tool for farmer equity. Brian is known for his critical and comprehensive understanding of the artisan chocolate ecosystem; from cacao sourcing, to manufacture, to finished product quality. Brian Cisneros currently provides leadership to Chocolate Alliance, NW Chocolate Festival, The Chocolate Makers UnConference, and the Specialty Cocoa Association. Brian Cisneros is a lifelong activist for farmer equity, reparative social justice, deep ecology, and forest sustainability.

Bob Goldfarb

Cocoazoo.com, Owner

Bob discovered his chocophile interests and the world of small batch, single origin chocolate in 2007. He and a friend began comparing several bars, four times a week. He began keeping his reviews in an online database which now has more than 3200 entries. A life-long factory lover, he asked to tour makers’ production facilities whenever possible. He wound up designing and building a specialty vibrating table for a local chocolate maker and spending lots of time in their factory observing their process and technique. Periodically, the maker invited him to join their tasting panel to select the recipes for their production bars. He assists foreign, artisan makers register with the FDA so that they can ship their chocolate to the USA. He earned the Chocolate Alliance’s Certificate in Chocolate Product Quality Evaluation and has judged both domestic and international chocolate competitions. He is delighted to judge the Good Food Awards again this year and he feels honored to co-chair the chocolate category.
Committee Members

Lynne Simon, Forager, Garten Market

2023 Judges

Lisa Morehouse

Senior Producer, Reporter, California Foodways

Ryan Rodrigues

Store Manager, The Real Food Company

Renee Frojo

Owner, ReBorn Creative

Tienlon Ho


Rebecca Taylor-Roseman

Chocolate Sommelier, Chocolate Noise

Jay Holecek

Food Craftsman, WholeCraft

Jenn Chen

Writer, Photographer & Digital Strategist

David Bordow

Director of Product, Creator Inc

Doreen Leong

Founder, Cococlectic

Sana Javeri Kadri

CEO & Founder, Diaspora Co.

Brian Wood

Founder, Starter Bakery

Sara Stadulis

PhD Student, Cornell University

Kat Thompson

Co-owner, Mushrooms & Marigolds


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).