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Where do I buy good quality (for truffles) chocolate in bulk quantities (> 3 lbs)? The prices I'm seeing for Valrhona, etc on Amazon reach nearly $15/lb and that is ridiculous. Any preferred vendors? Thanks!

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I don't know where you are from, but if you live in Canada you could always check out the Bulk Barn. They might not have what exactly you are looking for but I'm sure there is something close. –  duchessofstokesay Jan 11 '11 at 18:27
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Out of curiosity, how is this not time/space localized? –  justkt Jan 11 '11 at 20:50
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justkt - Very few of us are lucky enough to be able to buy couverture in bulk locally, so most of north america would probably be interested in the same sources. I suppose it is somewhat localized, though. –  Computerish Jan 11 '11 at 21:30
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@justkt: You mean Area 51? All I see is this question, which had only a couple of votes, and the rationale against online sources was apparently that it's easy to find on Google - which I think we all agree is a poor justification for any policy. I'm certainly open to discussing it (on meta) - I wouldn't want to see an avalanche of "where can I buy avocados online" questions - but for certain hard-to-find ingredients or large classes of ingredients, it seems OK to me. –  Aaronut Jan 12 '11 at 14:48
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The cheapest place is by definition localized. I don't think the cheapest place is going to always be the same. –  kiamlaluno Jan 1 '12 at 22:10
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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the world of high-end chocolate, Valrhona isn't even the most expensive - in fact, it's practically entry level. Amedei Signature retails at a whopping $40/lb in "bulk" (1 kg) quantities.

I don't think I've ever seen Valhrona in bulk quantities and/or at a significantly discounted price. On the other hand, there are similar-quality brands that are way more affordably-priced. On chocosphere you can buy 22 lbs of Callebaut callets for just over $6 per pound. Or you can get one of Felchlin's Grand Cru chocolates for about $10 per pound. You can even buy Guittard there for what appears to be $6.60/lb. But you'll notice that they even though they also carry Valrhona, they don't have it in bulk.

I also see Candy Warehouse selling the Guittard wafers for, apparently, $3.10/lb if you buy the 25 lb bag. Chocolate Man sells the Felchlin Maracaibo chocolate (not Grand Cru) for a measly $7.80/lb. They've got a variety of other well-known brands as well, although their selection is limited, they don't have a lot of the crazy high-end stuff.

Chocovic chocolate also sells at around the $10 range at most stores. If you can find it, they distribute 10 kg and 25 kg bags (that's 22 lbs and 55 lbs). I'm not sure where, but if you go to their official site they explicitly mention that they make that size.

You should consider that the exorbitant prices may not be a result of where you're buying from, but of what you're buying. Valrhona is just expensive. You may say that is because it's better than all the others, and you may be right (although some would disagree - it's more than a little subjective) - but that is the price you pay for "premium" products. They can get away with charging $13-$15/lb, so they do.

Do yourself a favour - try some of the lesser-known brands. A lot of them really do make fantastic chocolate, they're just not as famous as Valrhona.

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Thanks for the thorough explanation. I used chocosphere in the past for retail chocolate, I'll have to try their bullk variety. Time to try some Callebaut. –  ash Jan 11 '11 at 20:42
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Chocosphere has been my source for around a year or so:

http://www.chocosphere.com/

They are based on Oregon (unfortunately for me), but they sell all of the most common brands of chocolate. Most of their chocolates are sold in 1 kg, 3 kg, or 5kg quantities. As a bonus, they are really good at shipping. I've had them ship chocolate literally across the country in warm weather and it showed up unmelted.

EDIT: As others have noted, Valrhona is NEVER cheap. Ever. And Valrhona isn't the only one. I've been wanting to try some Michel Cluizel stuff, but its $40/kg!!! I use cheaper chocolate, such as Callebaut, when I'm working on recipes. When I'm making anything that's going to be boxed up, I may order different chocolate. A current (and rather unknown) favorite, is Chocolate Santander, a Columbian single-origin chocolate that beat out all the Valrhona varieties I had on hand (2 or 3), Callebaut, and about 5 other chocolates I had around in a taste test.

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That is indeed a great site for chocolate; even there, though, the Valrhona is ridiculously expensive. –  Aaronut Jan 11 '11 at 4:48
    
If you like to occasionally splurge on the medium-high-priced stuff like Valrhona, then some people swear by Scharffen Berger and rate some of their chocolate as better than Valrhona. Subjective, again, but certainly comparable and less expensive ($11 or so in bulk). –  Aaronut Jan 11 '11 at 14:43
    
Thanks for the tips on lesser known chocolate. I'll have to try Santander. –  ash Jan 11 '11 at 20:43
    
Scharffen Berger is too bitter for my taste. I'd be happy to eat 80% Valrhona all day (if I could afford it), but 60% Scharffen Berger justs tastes bitter to me. I think it's because Scharffen Berger has a very pure chocolate taste without the fruit or nut overtones that many other chocolates have. Of course, if you are looking for the most chocolately taste, Scharffen Berger might be the way to go. Of course that's just my opinion. Save a small amount of every chocolate you try and then put 8 or 10 next to each other and taste them. –  Computerish Jan 11 '11 at 21:27
    
Not sure how high of quality couveture that you are looking for, but in Canada, Superstore has callebaut in their bulk bins. They are the standard size blocks smashed into pieces. I buy it often. –  mrwienerdog Jan 13 '11 at 18:22
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Try Guittard products. I think they stand up well against Valrhona. I use Scharffen Berger cocoa and I buy it in bulk.

I have used Chocosphere in the past - good customer service, but their prices are not as competitive as they used to be. I've been shopping around on the web and can sometimes beat their prices by enough dollars that I try new places.

For truffles, I use the Guittard 63 (it might be 62 percent) dark chocolate 10 pound bar. Worked wonderfully and overall cost for the chocolate on a per pound basis was very good.

I'd have loved to try the Divine Chocolates site listed in this other answer but "contact us for price" is a nonstarter. I want to be able to compare prices online without waiting on office hours or having to speak to someone.

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I order from worldwidechcocolate.com. They have a LOT of different brands, and I have tried most of them. I am a Valhrona person, but I have found Callebaut and Guittard to be quite comparable.

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