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The Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate revolution - 30 years of passion and creativity

Guanaja 70% is turning 30, celebrating three decades of excellence and expertise for the benefit of Artisans and Pastry Chefs


The world's most bitter chocolate, Guanaja 70% first appeared on the scene in 1986.

 Going back to the basics, a dark chocolate is made of:

-          Dry matter: cocoa nibs from the bean

-          Fat: cocoa butter from the cocoa bean

-          Sugar and natural vanilla extract

-          And some soya lecithin, a natural emulsifier to stabilize the recipe


Before 1986, the distinction between dark chocolates lied in their aromatic profiles specific for each terroir. No one had yet started to study the influence of the amount of sugar or fat.


The Guanaja 70% revolution especially lies in its low sugar content and its astonishing bitterness, simultaneously rounded and light in acidity, underpinned by notes of dried fruits and roasted coffee.


For the very first time, professionals were working with a less sweet chocolate that was richer in cocoa butter.

This new blend marked a new era for Chocolatiers and Pastry Chefs alike!


Thanks to Guanaja's more concentrated cocoa content, traditional recipes needed to be reviewed and measurements adjusted depending on the chocolate used. Frédéric Bau understood this need for change and decided to found l'École Valrhona, along with the "Essentials" (the "Chocolate Bible").


Frédéric Bau Creative Director at Valrhona:

"Guanaja "shook up" conceptions of flavor and technique in the industry. I don't think anyone at Valrhona could have guessed what an impact the arrival of a chocolate like this would have in terms of technique: We weren't weak pastry chefs by any stretch of the imagination, but we had to up our game and learn to work with it! Guanaja prompted us to create the Essentials tool, designed as a 'Lego-style game' to save pastry chefs from having to figure out how to rebalance recipes. Thanks to this tool, Valrhona has opened up the field of possibilities." 


This revolutionary chocolate was named Guanaja, in a nod to the first cocoa beans given to Christopher Columbus when he washed up on the Caribbean island of Guanaja on July 30, 1502.

The first 70% cocoa blend, Guanaja is the fruit of an alliance of exceptional crus sourced from a selection of unique beans - from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and. Its blend is a concentration of Valrhona's expertise and high standards: from fermentation to conching, each step of this long-term process is an exercise in precision.


A vintage chocolate based on an original, unique and unparalleled recipe:

63% cocoa nibs + 29% white sugar + 7.5% cocoa butter + 0.02% natural vanilla extract + 0.5% soya lecithin = A chocolate delight to be enjoyed as-is or whipped up into a dessert!


Thanks to its incredible success among chefs and artisans, Guanaja 70% has become Valrhona's most iconic dark chocolate. It now features among the Top 5 best-sellers in France and abroad, a favorite with over 10,000 clients.


Valrhona and Guanaja in 7 key dates:

 1922: The Chocolaterie du Vivarais is founded by Albéric Guironnet

1947: The Valrhona brand is founded, the name of which is a contraction of 'Vallée du Rhône'

1986: The world's most bitter chocolate is born: Guanaja, 70% cocoa

1987: Guanaja Lactée is created

1989: L'École Valrhona is created, co-founded by Frédéric Bau and Paul-Bernard Bret

2008: The first P125 Cœur de Guanaja 80% chocolate concentrate is created using innovative technology that heightens the chocolate intensity in recipes where cocoa butter is limited

2016: Guanaja celebrates its 30th birthday


On March 21st, 2016, Valrhona will celebrate this birthday worldwide, being served in over 150 French embassies during the "Good France" operation.



Founded in 1922, Valrhona, a French chocolate company - created by pastry chefs for pastry chefs - has been supplying fine chocolates to gastronomy professionals throughout the world. The best chefs and artisans place their trust in Valrhona thanks to our wide range of blends and tastes. This range is constantly growing thanks to evermore innovative creations.