Crit* Dandelion Chocolate

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Established in 2010 by Cameron Ring and Todd Masonis, Dandelion Chocolate is a San Francisco based bean-to-bar manufacturer.

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Their first three products, Ocumare - Venezuela, Sambirano - Madagascar and Columbia (named after the regions and countries from which the raw beans are sourced) each contain 70% cocoa that has been roasted, cracked, sorted, winnowed, ground, conched, tempered and packed by hand in small batches. Designed by Caleb Everitt and illustrator Anthony Ryan, the packaging treatment reflects the handcrafted production techniques, limited run and high product quality with distinctive, practical and tactile artisan material combination, a typographic narrative style and a block foil print finish.

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“We are opening our workshop out of a lifetime love of chocolate. Our friends often said that given enough time, it seemed inevitable that one of us would open a chocolate factory. They watched as we experimented with growing small cacao plants in our apartments, pan roasted beans in the oven, and ate our way through the many of the chocolate shops of the world. A little more than a year ago, we decided to share our craft chocolate with our friends and family and have expanded since. Currently, in our small factory in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco, we roast, crack, sort, winnow, grind, conch, and temper small batches of beans and then mold and package each bar by hand. By sourcing high quality beans and carefully crafting tiny batches, we try to bring out the individual flavors and nuances of each bean.We’re excited to bring artisan bean-to-bar chocolate back to the bay area. Like many, we miss Scharffen Berger now that they moved east to join Hershey’s. We lost our local source for cocoa nibs and some of our favorite bars of dark chocolate. We hope and aspire to take over where others have left off and bring quality, local chocolate back to the area.” - Taken from the Dandelion Chocolate blog

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The paper’s uncoated, unbleached and embossed tactile qualities deliver a parcel-like and underlying, elemental, utilitarian aesthetic that really captures the imported aspect of cocoa, the developing regions it is sourced from and its unprocessed properties. This has been given a lovely copper and gold foil illustrative surface treatment that while a little conventional in its presentation of premium, draws a nice contrast between the raw, the refined and the creativity that lies between the two. A union which is reinforced through a light foil choice that allows it to adopt the textural qualities of the material below. The illustrative style of the patterns, reminiscent of classic gilded wallpapers, appropriately emphasises the theme of craft and quality while delivering a heavier contrast to the finer typographic details of the label.The mixed fibre aesthetic of the self-adhesive label compliments the colour and surface texture of the wrapper while its absorption of the red and black ink adds a slightly aged characteristic and infuses it with a sense of origin and journey. The classic details of a tall serif logo-type set across a curved baseline, small copy size, fine lines and dividers set alongside the more contemporary aesthetic of a broadly spaced sans serif shares similarities with the wine and aged spirits category, a smart association that gives the packaging a sense of heritage and depth of character.The richness of the graphic design and print finish is wonderfully matched by a lengthy narrative constructed from emotive language and solid pros as well as isolated details that offer a similar nod to vintage wines. These include references to harvest, provenance, year, the complexity/richness of the ingredients and the extensive processes involved in manufacture which results in an information heavy piece of design. The smart distribution and balance of these details through copy, graphic, print and material choices avoids the design from becoming unnecessarily complex and manages to convey quality, passion and creativity in an engaging and compelling way.

Opinion by Richard Baird

 @richbaird