Have you ever wondered why Switzerland is famous for its luxurious chocolates all around the world? After all, the cocoa bean grows best in the hot, humid climate found 20 degrees on either side of the equator. It happened, by chance, in much the same way Detroit became the Motor City.
Soon after Henry Ford set up his automaking shop, Ransom Olds and other auto visionaries followed. They shared concepts and employees to create a sort of car-making community. Although Motown had a few more local resources, the lack of any didn’t stop Francois-Louis Cailler, a native of Vevey, Switzerland from learning to make a solid bar of chocolate from grainy imported cocoa beans in 1819. This was the start of the Swiss dominance over places like the USA – in chocolate at least.
Later, Swiss colleagues and countrymen like Rudolph Lindt added cocoa butter for smoothness and Charles-Amedee Kohler added hazelnuts for crunchiness.
Perhaps the tastiest innovation came when Daniel Peter created milk chocolate by combining powdered cocoa beans with local milk. Later in the century, food magnet Henri Nestle joined other chocolate makers to form the Swiss Chocolate Society, eventually becoming the world-famous Nestle Company.
Chocolate in Switzerland involves two totally different processes, the chocolate maker and the chocolatier. The chocolate maker processes raw cacao beans into bars, tablets, or chips. The chocolatier uses the product to create delicious chocolate concoctions. Bean-to-bar chocolate makers complete the entire process; others only sell their products.
In Switzerland, chocolate lovers can tour chocolate factors, visit bean-to-bar workshops, relax in chocolate cafes, and of course sample and purchase some to take home. Let the following list of chocolate makers and chocolatiers guide your exploration of the World of Chocolate in Switzerland. Some are household names with products sold around the world. Others only sell to chocolatiers in Switzerland.
Swiss Chocolate makers produce the raw product used by Chocolatiers to create delectable chocolate bars, truffles, and other chocolatey delights. And if you have a lot of experience with chocolate (and who doesn’t) then you will know the Swiss stuff is way better than other European neighbors like Germany.
Let’s begin with Switzerland’s oldest chocolate company, Callier founded in 1819 by Francois-Louis Callier, the father of chocolate. Callier was a native of Vevey, a small town in the south of Switzerland near Luscane. After opening a small shop, he purchased a factory for producing chocolates on a larger scale.
The company makes its creations using locally sourced products like Swiss sugar and fresh alpine milk. Callier’s extreme chocolate bar, a blend of intensely dark and creamy milk chocolates is especially popular. Today you can take a guided tour of the Callier Chocolate Factory for a multi-sensory experience and sampling a variety of luscious Swiss chocolates. You even get to try your hand at Swiss chocolate making and craft your very own!
Lindt and Sprüngli AG, better known as simply Lindt, is popular for smooth, velvety chocolate bars and irresistible truffles. Their chocolate bars are often infused with fruits like lime, orange, and coconut intense. They produce bars that are 99 percent cocoa which has been proven to contain healthy antioxidants.
Founded in 1845 in Zurich, the company began as a small confectionery in 1836 by father and son team David Sprüngli-Schwarz and Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann. The pair acquired the Rudolph Lindt company in 1899 under the name of Lindt & Sprüngli.
Lindt, one of the most famous chocolate makers of his time developed a technique for superiority in aroma and melting characteristics. The company has at least a dozen chocolate factories globally and employs around 13,000 professionals.
You’ve heard the jingle: N-E-S-T-L-E-S Nestlé makes the very best. Henri Nestlé had a small baby formula business in 1867. After joining the forces of Switzerland’s premier chocolate makers, Nestlé chocolate was born. The company produced a wide variety of chocolate bars in the 20th century and still do today including the popular Kit Kat candy bar.
They also produce Milo, a nutritious chocolate malt beverage, and tasty Toll House morsels used in baking homemade chocolate chip cookies. With its roots in the baby formula business, Nestlé company owns the Gerber company… They also produce Pure Life drinking water and Maggi soups and seasonings.
Established in 1876, Toblerone was the first to experiment with chocolate bars in different shapes. The company’s standard candy bar is a scrumptious mixture of chewy nougat, honey, and almonds inside a bar of milk chocolate. The Toblerone bar is recognized for its triangular shape.
Created in 1908 by Theodore Toblerone, the packaging uses a mountain logo to pay homage to the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s famous mountain. Today the Toberlone brand is operated by Mondelēz, a major worldwide producer of snack foods including the famous Oreo and Cadbury eggs.
In 1887, 67 years after Callier was founded, the Frey company was established by brothers Max and Robert Frey. The small Swiss chocolate brand grew over the years until the Swiss supermarket chain Migros purchased it in 1950. In 1997, the Frey company went international and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2012.
Frey uses time-honored recipes to create chocolaty treats like crunchy nut bars, creamy assorted truffles, and Chocobloc, a chunky bar of dark, orange, or milk chocolate. Located in Buch, Switzerland, Frey is a bean-to-bar operation and a good chocolate factory to visit.
A tour teaches the history of chocolate and explores the company’s production methods. You’ll have a chance to taste samples and purchase chocolates from the shop.
What began as a small chocolate factory is now a successful company in Ticino, an Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland. With around 100 employees, Chocolat Alprose exports 6,000 tons of high-end chocolate of the finest quality every year to 35 countries. Specialties include small bits, tablets, and Neapolitans.
Swiss Alps Tommy Crunch is another delicious treat produced by Chocolat Alprose. The snack is a tasty treat made of light corn and coated with rich dark, milk, or white chocolate. Schokoland is a chocolate museum at the company’s production site. Kids get to make their own “schoggi” in the Choco-Studio.
The Camille Bloch Swiss Chocolate Factory is dedicated, passionate, and innovative when it comes to chocolate. Its specialties, Torino and Ragusa, have delighted the Swiss for generations. Torino is Swiss milk chocolate with a scrumptious truffle filling. Ragusa bars come in classic milk, blond, and dark chocolate and are chock full of whole hazelnuts.
The company’s high-end Liqueur chocolates are a particular specialty. CHEZ Camille Bloch is the company’s museum and is right across the street from the manufacturing site.
You’ll learn the company’s history and get to make your own chocolate. The museum has a Bistro that serves coffee and cake. There’s an outdoor playground for the kids and a shop that sells exclusive chocolate products.
Chocolatiers are artisans that create masterpieces from the product the chocolate maker produces. They sell their creations in shops and boutiques scattered throughout Switzerland.
Läderach was founded by chocolatier Rudolph Läderach in Glarus. Its aim is to “make every piece a masterpiece”. This company has dozens of shops across Switzerland, and you can order confections online anytime. In-store, you’ll want to sample the lighter-than-air chocolate mousse.
FrischSchoggi is the signature confection and comes in a number of varieties such as hazelnut, almond milk, mixed fruit, confetti, or plain classic. Läderach also creates chocolate hearts iced with sweet, personalized messages and offers boxes of tantalizing assorted chocolates. To me, they make some of the best swiss chocolate of all. So, be sure to try them when you are in one of the Swiss cities.
Take the Chocolate Experience tour in Bilton, book a workshop and tasting session at Choco Atelier in Zurich, or tour the Läderach factory in Enneda.
Max Chocolate is near the famous Chapel Bridge, an ancient covered wooden pedestrian bridge in Lucerne. Pop in while exploring the city’s Old Town. The family-owned business opened in 2009 and is named after founder Patrik Konig’s son Max who is said to be a proud chocoholic. Locals and visitors like this chocolate shop for its special four seasons confections.
In the fall, the truffles are filled with dried fruits and roasted nuts, and in summer, the fillings turn to fresh berry jellies. Boxes of assorted chocolates are sold in several sizes. Max Chocolate uses all-natural ingredients and secret recipes. It offers a Tastings & Makings workshop that you can book online.
Aver is a family-owned chocolate shop in Geneva with confections as extraordinary as the surrounding scenery. It’s been a Geneva institution since 1939. The dark, milk, white chocolate, and fruity Kirch truffles are carefully handcrafted using the chocolatier’s own special technique.
Aver also offer boxes of assorted chocolates featuring up to 50 kinds of confections. For a unique taste experience, try the Princess Almonds, roasted, caramelized almonds coated with a milky covering and cocoa powder. Also sample the ganches made with a mixture of cream and chocolate.
A Swiss chocolate tradition since 1836, Zurich’s famous Sprüngli chocolatiers use cocoa varieties from exotic places around the world like Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Madagascar. Along with carefully picked fresh fruits and nuts, they create melt-in-your-mouth truffles and chocolate bars.
Sprüngli’s Truffles aux Amandes are rolled in croquant, a mixture of caramelized sugar and almonds with a light almond filling. The company’s Grand Cru bars are made from chocolate with a little bitterness and low acidity. Get them in milk or dark chocolate with hazelnuts, almonds, or plain.
In addition to fine chocolates, the confectioners at Sprüngli perfected the legendary Luxemburgli, a macaroon made by a recipe brought to the company by a young pastry chef from Luxemburg.
The light and airy macaroons are tasty, and colorful with flavors like bourbon-vanilla, raspberry, citron, and of course chocolate. For an out-of-this-world dessert, try the raspberry-lemon balm slush inspired by raspberry Luxumburgli.
Founded in 1932, Teusher is another popular Zurich chocolatier with two shops in the city and locations in Geneva and Munich. The New York Times touts that connoisseurs consider Teuscher to be the best in the world. Delicacies are also served at Zurich’s Felix Café.
It features a huge selection of filled chocolates and is known around town for the champagne truffles made with Dom Pérignon, buttercream, and rich dark chocolate. Teuscher also makes a selection of marzipan, cookies, and sugar-free goodies. And if you can’t get to Europe, no worries. They ship directly worldwide.
Located in the heart of Geneva, Du Rhône has been making traditional Swiss chocolates since its founding in 1875 by Monsieur Pertuise. A tempering machine is used to cast a chocolate mold to give the candy its recognizable shape. The thick shells are hardened in the fridge and later filled with ganache, pralines, nougat, whole hazelnuts, and other yummy fillings.
Some of the chocolatier’s recipes were mysteriously stolen in the 1950s, so the company carefully guards its secrets today. Reserve a tasting at the factory and relax with tea, visit the workshop and create your own cast with seasonal or holiday shapes, or order boxes of Nobel Rhônes online.
In the chocolate business since 1905, the family-owned Honald in Zurich specializes in alcohol-infused chocolates. The chocolatier created the world’s first cherry Kirch baton almost a hundred years ago. Savor handmade truffles filled with champagne, gin, cognac, Baileys, and yes, even absinthe.
In total, Honald’s features 40 varieties of confections. A favorite for many, Lottie’s Best is filled with Tonka bean-flavored nougat and covered with Venezuelan and milk chocolate.
Highly flavorful, Tonka beans are outlawed in several countries including the US and UK due to higher levels of the chemical coumarin, so eat them sparingly. Sample Honald’s pastries and cakes at the indoor cafe or outside tables along with a cup of hot cocoa spiked with Baileys or rum.
Since the owner lovers opera and the shop is near the Zurich Opera House, the confection collections at Vollenweider are named for famous operas. The Romeo and Juliet chocolates are heart-shaped raspberry. Fidelio is caramel ganache, Carmen is chocolate mousse, and Cosi Fan Tutte is made with hazelnuts.
In all, there are a dozen opera-named collections. The family-owned store is quite fancy in all-black marble with crystal accents. Purchase a 72 percent dark chocolate bar in a 22k gold wrapping for $19.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.