Part 1: Fact Checking Georg Bernardini's "Chocolate - The Reference Standard"

Clay Gordon
01/16/16 07:50:54
1,680 posts


I purchased my copy of the English–language version of  Chocolate – The Reference Standard at full face value at the Origin Chocolate event in Amsterdam in October 2015. It was not given to me as a review copy. In reading, I noticed a favorable mention of TheChocolateLife (p875). This did not influence my re view. On a side note, it was the marketing department of my publisher, Gotham Books, who decided to include the phrase “… The Ultimate Guide …” as the tag line on the cover of my book, Discover Chocolate, over my objections. Sadly, to me, “ultimate” was prophetic in one respect – it is still the only book of its kind.


Chocolate - The Reference Standard

Germany [Bonn]

Overall Rating:  Six pods (out of six) for sheer scale. One pod (out of six) for objectivity and reliability of information.
Processing stage : Unedited or lightly edited translation (Unconfirmed).
Price category: €€€€€

As Rick and Mike Mast  have been so publicly reminded over the past few weeks, if you are going to make superlative claims for your product, you had better deliver on those claims. This is a lesson that Georg Bernardini, author of Chocolate – The Reference Standard (“TRS”), may well be forced to learn.

By deliberately renaming this edition of his book The Reference Standard (p14) , the task the author set himself was not just to create a broad survey of available chocolate (4,400 individual products from 550 brands from 70 countries, according to the author: I did not count them) but also to ensure that the information presented as fact is, in fact, factually accurate. In other words, to create a volume that actually deserves to be held up as not just a reference standard, but as the reference standard.

With respect to the former task of creating a survey of currently available chocolate, Bernardini set himself an almost impossible task because no matter how comprehensive the attempt is or was, there were and are bound to be many companies overlooked or given short shrift, and much of the information, especially about the products and companies would be out of date by the time the book went to press.

Nonetheless, it is the scope and expansiveness where TRS is the most satisfying. Although I have been involved in chocolate professionally since 1998 and have been writing about and reviewing and rating chocolate since 2001, there are companies in this book I had never heard of before. Not “known about but never tried,” but genuinely never heard of before. The little trill of discovery when running across a new name is cool—it some rate an entry in my travel journal as a place to visit when I can.

The information about the companies is presented in a reasonably consistent and generally approachable and understandable fashion. It’s possible to skim the book looking for a known favorite brand (entries are arranged alphabetically and there is a listing up front) or to scan the book for companies that are rated highly (five or six pods) or that Bernardini is less sanguine about (none or one pods).

It’s this grazing aspect of consuming the book that makes it fun but the fact that there is a whole lot to consume lends an un warranted perception of value to the book; it is when you stop grazing and actually start examining TRS closely that some very real flaws reveal themselves.

Flaws, that, in my opinion, make the book dangerous and its author not someone to trust, let alone laud.

To be fair, it’s hard for me to know from where many of the flaws stem, because I am not fluent in German. But when you start reading the book it’s quickly clear that after the book was translated there was none, or only very little, editing or fact checking done by anyone whose first language is English or who is knowledgeable about cocoa and chocolate.

TRS is littered with grammatical and typographical errors, and the awkwardly convoluted structure of many sentences clearly comes from TRS’s German–language origin. The first times I came across these, they struck me as amusing. Very quickly, however, the quirky sentences became annoying because they make trying to understand what the author actually wants to convey much more difficult and many times impossible.

More troubling, to my mind, is that there are some things that are presented as fact that are ambiguous or just plain wrong. And it’s here that my lack of understanding of German (and my unwillingness to fork over another €50 plus shipping for a German-language version of TRS) comes into play.

I just don’t know how many of the errors are in the German-language original or if they crept in during the translation. The translation may be the source of some specific jarring language choices that are not in the original. Two examples, gladly forego on the cover and the overuse (to my mind) of the words tolerate and suspect . (TRS is offered up as a reference standard, so nothing should be suspect. It should be verified and fact-checked as true, or it doesn’t warrant inclusion.)

I suspect (this is a review and I am not claiming it to be a definitive reference and I am going to use the word to highlight several points) that the source of some of the factual errors in TRS are a result of the translation, but I don’t know that this is the case in any specific instance.

For example, in the section on cocoa sourcing and the Dominican Republic (p34), the text reads, “The two most frequently cultivated varieties are Sanchez and the prestigious cocoa bean Hispaniola.” Actually , Sanchez and Hispaniola are not varieties of cacao, they are terms that refer to fermented beans (Hispaniola, from the name of the island), or the lack of fermentation (Sanchez, from the name of a port). The question is, is the source of the error the translation (I think not in this case), or is it actually a fundamental misunderstanding on the author’s part? If the latter, then that calls into question everything the author claims as fact: What does he really know? What can we trust? What can we take at face value as being true?

I don’t know.

And in this specific instance I am consciously committing the same act that lies at the heart of my main criticism of TRS and the one that undermines its credibility and any claims it has to authority: I am being lazy . I could easily reach out and find someone who owns the German-language original and ask. But I did not, in order to make the very particular important point that there are many places in TRS where Bernardini has been lazy, and dangerously so because of claiming the mantle of reference standard.

An egregious example of this laziness is in the entry for Perú’s Cacaosuyo (pp 239-40). Bernardini opines that the processing stage Cacaosuyo occupies is “Bean-to-Bar (Unconfirmed)”.

The text reads, “It is not quite sure whether the company actually manufactures the chocolate itself. Too often it is rumored that they are private label products … It is hard to believe that the company controls all steps from cultivation to manufacture … For this, the communication and transparency are too meager for me [emphasis added].” And in the Summary, “A little more communication and transparency on their website because, apart from a logo, there is nothing and it would do the credibility of the company good.”

The only way I can read this is that Bernardini relied on reports of rumors and a lack of information on their website to punish the company by questioning its integrity with the Unconfirmed label. Apparently, Georg did not actually take the time or make the effort necessary to find out for sure one way or another: he perpetuates rumors with innuendo. To what purpose? What does this say about Bernardini’s integrity?

Note : I have personally visited the Cacaosuyo factory in Lima and have seen the process from the bean to finished bars. I have not visited the farms, but have spoken extensively with Samir Giha about them.

The entry for Pacari is similarly lazy and dismissive, but here’s where the deep waters of editorial decision-making become murky when a competitive entry is examined closely.

Quite rightly, Bernardini recuses himself from writing the review for Ecuadorian chocolate company and Pacari competitor, Hoja Verde (four pods, pp440-43), because he points out that he consulted to them in 2013.

Notwithstanding this distancing, Hoja Verde, which does not make its own chocolate, is given four pages of editorial where Pacari, a much more highly-respected and better-known brand internationally, a brand that consistently places highly in international competitions where Hoja Verde does not, rates the same four pods but just two pages (pp641-42) and is given the reputation–questioning (Unconfirmed) status label.

Even Valrhona , arguably one of the five most important companies in the book, rates only two pages plus a paragraph (pp792-95). Bonnat gets two pages (pp220-22) and six pods; Cluizel, a shade over two pages (pp289-291) and the same four-pod rating as Hoja Verde; Domori two-and-a-half pages (pp339-241) and six pods. Utterly bafflingly, Felchlin rates zero pages though is mentioned in passing as one of the best, if not the best, private-label manufacturers in the world!

Given these direct observations of what did and not make the cut, I can’t help but wonder how much Bernardini’s involvement with Hoja Verde did actually factor into the hard–to–believe editorial decision to give them far more love than many far more important and deserving companies. As the publisher, responsibility lies solely in Bernardini’s hands.

Favoring Hoja Verde with so much unquestioning editorial makes no sense in a book that purports to be The Reference Standard with a focus on “the best … in the world.”

Note :  I have not personally visited Pacari’s operations in Ecuador. However, I have contacted people who have visited Pacari over the course of years, who know what to look for, and whose integrity is above reproach.

There are other examples of this laziness, or suspected undisclosed bias, throughout the book. Patrice Chapon (for example) is also punished with the (Unconfirmed) label, and reading the lazy and superficial explanation leaves me wondering if there is something personal behind the review.

For me, this consistent pattern (barely–known companies being given a lot of coverage and well–known companies being overlooked entirely or having comparatively few products reviewed and rated) who are clearly not “the best in the world … [that] we would gladly forego”  is a key factor that undermines both the credibility and authority of the book as there are no clear guidelines about what was included—other, I suspect, than what Bernardini could get his hands on to review.

And It makes me wonder if there are any other instances where editorial coverage was influenced for personal or business reasons. Was, for example, the Maison Boissier review influenced in any way by the full page ad for The Salon du Chocolat?


Why I Say TRS is a Dangerous Book

TRS is self–published, and hiring experienced and knowledgeable editors and fact checkers to review a book of this breadth would be a very expensive proposition. However, for a book that calls itself The Reference Standard , it is precisely at this point where the author/publisher has undermined his own efforts, let down his readers, and created a situation ripe for dangerous exploitation.

As was revealed during the unfolding Mast Brothers story, the people reporting the story took the claims the Brothers made at face value and, at least apparently, did no fact checking. This meant that no one methodically looked at and publicly challenged their claims to have (for example) created/invented/innovated the entire production pathway they used until the series of articles on The Brothers (deliberately and cynically in my mind) took advantage of the lack of knowledge of media covering them and the consuming public, and coupled with some strategic endorsements from chefs who probably should have known better, were able to advance their claim that they made the best chocolate in the world.

It is exactly this confluence—ignorance (of chocolate), gullibility (it’s such a huge book it must be valuable/good), and lack of critical questioning—that lulled media and organizations and individual that should have known better into endorsing (explicitly or by implcation) both The Reference Standard and Georg Bernardini.

This uncritical institutional acceptance only serves to give weight to the claim that the book is, in fact, deserving of its self-attribution as The Reference Standard . There are ideas and errors of omission and commission in TRS that will be perpetuated for years, and reputations called into question because Bernardini was either lazy or cheap in not editing the translation or fact checking very important facts, and possibly favoring at least one company over all others.

Despite these flaws and many others, people are citing the book as a credible and authoritative source. The fact that TRS is a print publication does a great deal to imply the credibility that to my mind it does not deserve; the book was out of date before it went to press; any errors due to mistranslation or other reason cannot be corrected or discussed. If the information were online it would be far more usable (assuming the database was searchable), though far less valuable – to Bernardini’s reputation. A point that I believe is not lost on the author (who is also the publisher).



In the end, readers of Chocolate – The Reference Standard  should recognize that the ratings and reviews represent the opinions of a single person (with the exception of the troubling Hoja Verde entry). They are not gospel, the truth. They represent the opinion of one person. Your experiences tasting these chocolates will differ.

In part this is because not all products mentioned in this edition were rated specifically for this edition and may not represent the current state of the product, which may have been reformulated since being reviewed in a prior edition. Furthermore, among craft bean–to–bar chocolate makers especially, great pride is taken in the fact that their chocolate is not meant to be the same from batch to batch. Nowhere in any of the reviews of bean–to–bar chocolate I read did I notice any indication of which batch was tasted, even when that information would have been available. Thus, it is virtually guaranteed that whatever you taste it will not be what Bernardini tasted, reviewed, and rated.

And where is the reference standard value in that?

While we can marvel at the effort required to compile such a collection of entries in a very short period of time, it is also that effort in such a short time frame that undermines their reliability. We should not blind ourselves into believing that the quantity of effort involved is in any way equivalent to any qualitative aspect of that effort. I have pointed out just a few of those aspects above. There are many, many , more.

At best, TRS is a survey of a sampling of products from over 500 brands that Bernardini could get his hands on, and not, as the cover proclaims “The best chocolates and pralines in the world; What’s behind it [sic] all and what we would gladly forego”. If these are the best chocolates and pralines in the world – why would we gladly forego any of them? So, it’s important to recognize that TRS is a personal, idiosyncratic survey and sampling, one that because of its vastness is rife with errors of omission and commission, filled with factual errors, and that would be far more usable and useful if it were not distributed on dead trees.



I would like, in any comments, for members to focus on fact checking the book, not engaging in nit–picking the ratings and reviews of specific products, which, as I mention above, are completely personal. But – if there are factual errors in the book, I think everyone who owns a copy or refers to TRS as a reference standard should know about them. I can’t know everything and I don’t have the time to go through the book with a fine–toothed comb looking for them.

Read Part 2 of my review.

Listing image by @vera-hofman as posted on TheChocolateLife.


clay -

updated by @clay: 10/17/23 09:47:13
Good night and bye, bye
01/19/16 15:54:16
2 posts

First of all sorry for all errors in my answer. My english is not as good as Clay’s english.



The book was written and the tastings were mad from September 2014 until End of March 2015.

The german version was edited twice, then english version once.

The translation was made from a professional translator born in Australia.


Why „The Reference Standard“?

My first edition was published in October 2012 in german language only.

The book won the Gourmand Award for the best chocolate book of the world in 2013 (By the way, the new edition won the Gourmand Award for the best cookbook in Germany and is nominated for the Gourmand Award for the best chocolate book in the world 2015).

Many people, media, readers and from the chocolate business, named my book „Reference Standard“ or „Chocolate Bible“, I got even the name „The Chocolate Pope“. Myself I don’ t feel to be the chocolate pope or to wrote the chocolate bible at all. I even don’ t like this titles at all. I even don’ t like to call me „chocolate expert“...

But I understand that people say that this book is a reference standard as there is no other book with this volume and fullness of information.

So, it was not me who named the book, it was the media, reader and the chocolate community.

Another reason why this book got this name is that it is the first of his kind and that I’m sure that there will not be another similar book coming out in the near future. It is the widest and the most complete compilation of chocolate companies.


Overlooked Companies

Sorry, I don’ t think that there is any really important company overlooked. Give me a sample, please. Short reviews: Yes, some companies, also big companies, got a smaller review as they don’ t worth more words. Otherwise every company got an introduction as much as I got informations. And yes, I don’ t need to taste 15 different chocolates from Cadbury, Milka, Hershey, Godiva, Leonidas etc. to have the opinion that this kind of chocolates are wasting my (and the readers) time. I prefer to take the time and the place for small pearls as Rogue, Patric, Fruition or Pump Street Bakery.

Actuallity of information

It is wrong that much of the information would be out of date. I checked in September 2014 all reviews of my first edition which I wrote in the year 2011, revised in 2012. During this two years 98 % companies still existed, in 95 % of the companies where no changes and almost 80 % of the reviewed products where still in the market.

As already mentionned I wrote the new book until end of March 2015. In summer 2015 I checked again some facts and I made some correction as the change of the name of Brasstown Chocolate (formely It’s chocolate) and the fact that Allsop, Damien ceased operations (you can check this on page 157) was added the 5th June 2015. Three and a half month before publishing the book. And Clay write that the information in my book are out of date?

I don’ t think that any edition of Gault Millau or Michelin are more up to date than my book.


Grammatical and Typographical Errors

Maybe it is true that there are some errors and yes, unfortunally I’m personnally not in the position to check it. Otherwise the reader can take this errors as a charming fact for this book, translated from german to english. As I’m not able to evaluate this point I’m abstaining me to take more position.


Tolerate and Suspect

I don’ t agree with Clay’s opinion that in a reference standard nothing should be suspect. There are a lot of facts and informations which are communicated from companies, but sometimes there is no way to check these informations. Why should this be unspoken or unwritten?

Example: A company claim to be Tree-to-Bar and you ask as an author or journaliste to get information about this, but you don’ t get an answer. Should you accept it and don’ t speak/write about this secrecy? No, never. If a company don’t answer should be something wrong and I write about this.


Hispaniola and Sanchez Cocoa

This two kinds of cocoa are sold as different varieties. This word (in German „Sorten“) is used in German language as the word to make the difference between Hispaniola and Sanchez, but also to make the difference between Porcelana and Ocumare.

The chapter where this two beans are mentioned didn’t explain WHAT the beans are. The context is only that Hispaniola and Sanchez are the two beans which are famous in the Dominican Republic. Even if the traduction is not correct, it doesn’ t disturbs as it is not relevant.


Lazy Georg

This is completly nonsense.

It is hard to read this as it is a direct attack and aggression to my person.

I worked very hard to make all research for the book. In total more than two years and every doubt I had I followed up until I got a credible answer or, sometimes, there was a dead end without a satisfactory answer.

Often I send three, for or even five emails to get information, I tried to get by phone call informations, I searched for hours online, asked friends as Mark Christian and other well known chocolate experts. I travelled to many countries and searched in books.

The most informations are from the website of the companies, of course.



The concept of my book is to publish always the processing stage as communicated from the companies (when they communicate it). But also to publish the processing stage, when the companies NOT communicated it. In this case I had a lot of work...

Cacaosuyo claim to be not only Bean-to-Bar, but also to be Tree-to-Bar. Tree-to-Bar means that they own at least one cacao plantation and that the cocoa sourced for the chocolate comes from this plantation. I didn’ t got any proof about this and any request forward to Cacaosuyo was without response.

The website is empty and no other information are avaible.


I’m surprised that Clay only reproaches me that I doubt that Cacaosuyo is a Bean-to-Bar producer. Why he don’t reproaches me that I doubt the Cacaosuyo is a Tree-to-Bar producer?

Until a company don’ t proof that they are Bean-to-Bar (or Tree-to-Bar) I will always have the tendency not to believe. Especially if they claim to be Tree-to-Bar without showing proofs. Damn, which serious company don’ t use pictures etc. from his own plantation for marketing purpose if they are Tree-to-Bar?

And yes, I got reliable information that Cacaosuyo was not Bean-to-Bar at the time when I tasted the bars (end of 2014). If today they are Bean-to-Bar, nice. But it still lacks the proof of Tree-to-Bar.

And yes, I only write about rumours as of course I would never divulge my source of information.

The customer have the right to get easy access to informations and this is with Cacaosuyo not the case (by the way, I like the products and they got a quite good product review).



Almost the same as Cacaosuyo, but even more outrageous.

1. They use for marketing very penetrating „Tree-to-Bar“. This is the first what you see when you open the website. But, they don’ t own a cocoa plantation which is able to source all the cocoa which Pacari use for chocolate bars. They have at this moment cocoa from eight different regions and I don’ t believe that Pacari owns 8 plantations around Ecuador and Peru (the Piura-bar is made with peruvian cocoa). On every bar is written: PACARI – Premium Organic Chocolate – From Tree to Bar.

It is incredible that nobody move and speak out what I write. This claim is a lie and much more lie than the „scandal“ of the Mast Brothers (this scandal is overdrawn). Shame on Clay that he support and protect a company with lies so obviously. Shame to the media who don’ t follow up this lie and shame to all the „Awards“ which accept to give prices to a company which obviously don’ t tell the truth.

Also in the case of Pacari I got reliable sources of information that not all chocolates are Bean-to-Bar (especially the bars with inclusions).


To finish this point about Bean-to-Bar:

In the case that I’m not able to verify myself the information of the company I wrote „unconfirmed“. This gives to the companies the possibility to be transparence and to proof the truth.


Last thing about Pacari:

The „Raw Chocolate“ is ridiculous as it is NOT Raw Chocolate. Santiago Peralta himself told me at the Salon du Chocolat Paris in 2014 that it is NOT Raw Chocolate. He calls it „Minimal processed“ chocolate. Why he don’ t communicate it as minimal processed chocolate?

After his explication Santiago himself was not able to tell me at which temperature the beans are treated. He told me only that it is much more than 50 degrees celsius.


Tree-to-bar: Lie, Raw Chocolate: Lie. How can I trust whatever Pacari communicate?


Hoja Verde

This is the biggest nonsense in your review. The only reason why Hoja Verde got such a long review is that the review was written by Mark Christian. I was not willing to censor or cut down his review. That’s all.

I have no more relationship to Hoja Verde since 2013 and even some of my recipes where changed after my engagement.


Patrice Chapon

Another error from Clay. It is simply wrong that Chapon was declared „unconfirmed“. Everybody who own the book can check it (pages 259).

The products got a good, but not a superb review as I don’ t like as much as before the quality of his assorted chocolates. There is nothing personal behind. His quality is not the same as four years ago, that’ s all.


Volume of reviews

Better the company, bigger the review? No, not in my book. Some companies has a long history, so I need more space to write about. Other companies don’ t worth to write more or to taste more than three chocolates. For example: Tasting three, four chocolates from Cadbury, Hershey or Milka gives me enough impression not to taste more. I prefer to take more time and space for companies such as Rogue, Fruition or Metiisto.


Maison Boissier

I start really not to understand what Clay really search? What is your problem? Boissier got even not one full page with a mediocre review. Do you want me insinate that I’ m corrupt?

I give you some more „critical“ reviews as they are friends of mine:

AMMA: Diego and Frederick are for many years friends.

Wonder Chocolate: Dito, Frederick is a good friend.

Akesson: I know him for long time.

Bright Chocolate/Australia: Yes, I spend the evening there with the family with a nice barbecue.

Zotter: He gave me a lot of samples for free.

Domori: Jep, nice guy with good contacts. I have to keep him hot, who knows?

Rogue: Yes, I idolize him for his courage.

Coppeneur: My old company.

Go Clay, search any possible irregularity.

I can honestly and without any doubt say and write NO ONE REVIEW is payed or a niceness because the company is from a friend (or even I got money).

Different company wanted to support me and I never accepted anything.

By the way, only for samples I spend more than 10.000 $...



Hey Clay, next error! If you had read my book attentively you would know that NO PRIVATE LABEL PRODUCER, neither Felchlin got a review.

But Felchlin make for Idilio and Original Beans two great Private Label product lines and only for this reason I mentionned them.

So the reviews of them are representative. Oh yes, perhaps I got money from Felchlin for this...


Dangerous Book - Again Out of Date

That’s not the truth. Every company had the possibility to tell me a date for changes. Two examples:

In my first edition I was in contact with Caffarel because they used artificial flavors (Vanillin) in their chocolate. They told me that they will change it in the next few months. I wrote this in my first edition (Unfortunally it was a lie as it still existe Caffarel products with artificial Vanillin). I wrote about this in the new edition (page 244 intro last phrase).

Benoit Nihant: When I got the samples he used couverture for his assorted chocolates. He promissed me that until September 2015 he would change to his own chocolate. I wrote it in my intro (page 612 last phrase)


Summary – tasting different

That’ s totally wrong. Many readers contact me saying that they agree in many, many times my opinion of tasting. Of course not all and not always, but very often.
In many case during a tasting people taste different things. This is a fact that I wrote in my book.



It is true that not all products were rated for the current edition. In this case it is written and every mature reader is able to perceive this.

Nevertheless more than 3.000 products were tasted for this edition. Mainly bad chocolates were not tasted (again), this are the short review. Why spending time for bad products if there are so many new things to discover?

I checked all companies before writing only a short review if they worth to retaste them.

For example Läderach from Switzerland. They still make the same chocolates and still use in some chocolates artificial flavors. I’m not interested to taste them again until they stopp to use artificial flavors etc.

I will ot justify myself for every short review as every reader can read them and will understand why I wrote only a short review.
This also is explainted in my book.



Again an error, Clay. Some batches are published (example: Brazen, page 227).

But, who cares which batch was tasted? The reader? What the hell you think is usefull to him to know that I tasted 6, 8 or 10 months ago batch #40, Bar 32 of 44 from the Brazen Bar Dominican Republic 70 %???

How many pages would I have to add if I note all batches? Many of the companies know when I got the chocolates. They only have to check when I bought them (as I bought mainly samples from them directly). Others as Domori or Zotter can check when they send me the samples.

The companies know that I tasted during September 2014 and March 2015. It is at this volume not possible to give all informations to the reader (ingredients list would be quite interesting also). Incredible that you don’ t have any understanding for this.


What’s behind it all and what we can gladly forego

Sorry that you don’ t understand the phrase. Perhaps the translation is not correct, but the initial idea was not that the two phrases are in context.

But I understand. You want to tear up the book and every thing you find is good to massacre.



I don’ t think that any of your accuses is correct. There are perhaps some delicate details which could be more clear, but in summary I don’ t agree at all with your opinion.



I will not write a lot as I’m tired to repeat all. I have the impression that 1. you are influenced by some people (especially Santiago Peralta) because they are friends and 2. You have a personal problem with me.

Your review is so much nonsense that I will not response anymore after this post. Your hidden allegations are far away from any fairness and for this there is no base for me to continue any discussion.






Brad Churchill
01/21/16 00:04:28
527 posts

"The reference standard" for chocolate....


A reference standard based on the opinions of one person....


And sheeple are buying the book....


Me thinks, narcisistic, bloated, self indulgent wingnuts like the author of a book who proclaims that HIS opinions are THE reference standard do more harm that guys like Mast.  He should be stopped or at the very least slapped.  Hard.  The publisher should be contacted.  The book should be pulled.

Every one of the referenced companies in the book should be contacted and asked to NEVER sell or gift a single bar to the author again.  He's doing more harm than good.

Clay writes:  "I would like, in any comments, for members to focus on fact checking the book, not engaging in nit–picking the ratings and reviews of specific products, which, as I mention above, are completely personal. "

FACT:  Not a single one of the ratings is a substantiated and accurate representation of what the average consumer of that chocolate would conclude upon tasting the bar, BECAUSE no single person can be representative of an entire populace.

Based on this single, simple, statistical fact (Statistics makes the rules.  I don't make the rules).  Every review or rating is garbage, and given that it's a large portion of the book, most of the book can be considered garbage, or at the very best, simply the opinion of one person and should not be taken as seriously as a Superman comic book.



01/21/16 06:54:55
29 posts

" Otherwise the reader can take this errors as a charming fact for this book, translated from german to english. - See more at:"

Grammatical and typographical errors in a book are not charming, and show a lack of respect for the entire book writing and publishing process, and an absolute disdain for the end reader. Don't write a book in English if you cannot do your due diligence, by having it properly edited.

-advice from an author/editor of a number of books and publications.

01/21/16 11:14:28
14 posts

I dont see such a big problem in releasing a book that reviews a lot of chocolate products. He does not lie like the mast brothers, so there is no reason to compare him with them or even say that he is worse. He just writes down his opinion about the products he tasted and writes a bit about the company. I like this concept. I did find new companies that i wasnt even aware of and tasted also alot. Some I like, some I dont. And guess what: There are some products Bernardini likes and I dont. Thats just normal since every Person has his own opinion about taste and flavor.


Calling the author "... narcisistic, bloated, self indulgent wingnuts ..." and that his book is garbage is just a childish reaction from someone who got a bad review in the book. And still after reading it I would test your chocolate if I travel to Canada, because (as mentioned before) people have different opinions about taste and flavor in chocolates.

Brad Churchill:
FACT:  Not a single one of the ratings is a substantiated and accurate representation of what the average consumer of that chocolate would conclude upon tasting the bar, BECAUSE no single person can be representative of an entire populace.

Still you post some accolades on your business homepage like "Best Hot Chocolate ", "Top Chocolatier", ... even if they are tasted from random persons.
Sorry, but reading your comment I had to write this because it seemed very unfair to the author to say that his book is garbage and should be pulled.

The author writes alot of information about what bean to bar is and what the difference is about companies who use industrial made chocolate and people who make their own chocolate from the bean. It is good for people who doesnt know a lot about chocolate and after reading his book they will know much more about what the difference is about small artisan chocolatiers and big commercially made chocolate like lindt or nestle.. . I think this is a good way for the chocolate community. 

The title of the book is truly not the best as it claims to be "THE standard reference", but everyone who reads this book will know that the reviews are just from ONE person.

Brad Churchill
01/21/16 17:30:55
527 posts

Did I get a review in the book?  I have no idea.  I scanned it.  I didn't read it.  

Ah... "Best Hot Chocolate in Calgary" award WAS in fact a competition put on by a charity, and judged aonymously by...  wait for it.... HUNDREDS OF MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC!!!!  WOOHOO!!!   You know those types of people don't you?  They're the ones who keep a business's lights on through frequent patrionage....  But then again, who cares about "those" types.  Customers are uneducated troglodytes that the business should ignore because the opinion of a self proclaimed "judge" who writes a book on the industry (add your own impressed ooooooo... and aaaaaaaahhhh... here) is more important than what sheeple a business calls customers think.  (anecdote:  If you read this and think that I don't care what my customers think, you need to know I'm just being facetious here).


I won by a landslide two years in a row and never entered after that because the results were so skewed to me that nobody else would be able to compete fairly.

Apparently it's a good thing the judging was left up to people who PAY MY BILLS rather than the " narcissistic, bloated, self indulgent wingnut" who saw fit to give me a mediocre review in the book he wrote proclaiming to be THE chocolate reference......

I might be childish (petulant is a better word), but I'm certainly not narcissistic enough to think that my opinion is THE opinion that everyone should adopt as the gospel in my industry.  

I'm sure you can also see how much I care about what one misguided individual thinks about my chocolate when I sell out regularly and have to build a larger factory in order to keep up (currently under way now) with demand for product made with recipes that sell well but get poor reviews from people who claim to know what they are talking about.  hahaha...  That's funny...

The fact still remains irrefutable that no single person can ever claim to represent the opinions of the populus when that single person has not polled the populus for their opinions.  Anyone who tries is narcissistic by pure definition of the word.

Oh... and you won't have to come to Canada to try my chocolate.  Just North America.  Once my new factory opens in a couple of months Choklat will finally be able to produce enough to ship our "mediocre" hand made chocolate all over Canada and the US.  



updated by @brad-churchill: 01/21/16 17:35:45
Norbert Mergen-Metz
01/26/16 09:37:07
2 posts

Ho ho ho! This book should be embraced. It is the first in its kind. At least there is someone in the chocolate world who tried to make a comprehensive overview and prints it. Instead of a lot of talking and gossiping. Yes, of course, one can critisize things he writes. But he also earns a great deal of respect - especially because he knows what he wrote and, hence, became in the vulnarable corner.
And please think of the meaning of the word reference. It is something to refer to, to compare with. You might agree or disagree, but it is a reference. Since there was nothing and now there is, this is The reference. A reference suggests there is more. And there is not.

We at ClearChox do not always agree with Georg Bernardini, but we use his book. And sell his book. In Englisch and German. Why? Simply because it is a master piece. It is easy to critize, but, dear experts on the side line, why not build together an even better book?
Mind you, famous dictionaries and encyclopedias also started like this. One man or woman collected material. So maybe it might become in the future that everyone interested in chocolate consults The Bernardini ;-)

About Pacari
The company is simply to blame itself. They discourage visitors - now they bring some of them to mister Bolivar, a single Kichwa farmer in the community of Santa Rita; an almost fake show case - and they are not open where they get the cacao from. The only thing Santiago Peralta and the people around him say: "It is not true. It is unfair."
If Pacari would be transparent, the problem is gone.
Don't blame the messengers of the 'bad news'.

03/16/16 01:53:59
1 posts

So... there's a situation about a great book based on the taste of one person. Aren't all food, wine, etc. books based on the taste of one or at least four persons? - and I don't even mention al the suggestions they make in their books. If I want to read a good book about some kind of product I can do two things: the first thing is enjoying a book about the product I love and ignore someone's taste and suggestions or take someone's suggestions and taste as a example to learn more about my favourite product. - In my own blog I also write about products based on my taste. Nothing wrong with that.

And than the grammar / translation: as a writer ( what I do next to blogging ) I also make grammar mistakes, this is what makes me human.

For me this book from Georg Bernardini is a masterpiece. I spend hours of time creating my own chocolate list. - till I found out about his book. Now I only look further for chocolate products that aren't in it. That's also why I ask him if there's another version coming up within 5 or 10 years. Unfortunately not... so, if there are
things people don't like about his book: here's a chance! - write it!

Good luck Georg with your chocolate... I'm still enjoying your book.

updated by @captainofgoods: 03/16/16 01:59:36
Clay Gordon
04/15/16 13:17:25
1,680 posts


And than the grammar / translation: as a writer ( what I do next to blogging ) I also make grammar mistakes, this is what makes me human.

If there were just a few errors in grammar and translation it would be one thing. But the errors appear on every page, often many times on the same page.

But, far more troubling are the factual errors and the editorial inconsistencies that are present throughout the book.

You may like and enjoy the book and find it useful. I won't say anything to negate your experience of the book. I am sharing my impressions and insights that (as a published author) it's really hard to do a book at this scale with very little help. The results show that there was very little help, and the book - and the chocolate community - suffers from that lack. 

clay -


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