Handmade and Artisanal – The Best Chocolate In Switzerland Comes From Lucerne

I discovered the best chocolate in Switzerland at a little boutique shop in Lucerne.

Chocolate tasting of the best chocolate in Switzerland

Last Updated on 10/23/23 by Rose Palmer

The Swiss are known for their banking, for their watches, and for their chocolate. The well known Swiss Lindt chocolate brand produces globally recognized treats that grace grocery store shelves around the world and duty free shops in every airport that I pass through.

Cocoa may have come to Switzerland from the Americas, but it was, in part, Swiss engineering and know how that resulted in the sweet and creamy milk chocolate treats we enjoy today. Since the early part of the 19th century, Swiss ingenuity contributed one innovation after another to the chocolate making process.

Keeping the chocolate liquid and tempered at MAX chocolatier
Keeping the chocolate liquid and tempered at MAX chocolatier

In 1879 Rudolphe Lindt developed the ultimate innovation, the conching machine. His invention produced a product that had a silkier texture and less bitter flavors which is the chocolate taste and texture that we enjoy today. He also gave his name to one of the most globally recognized Swiss chocolate brands.

Along with Lindt, there are many famous Swiss chocolate makers that are know world wide. Toblerone, Nestle, Sprüngli, and Cailler (the oldest Swiss chocolate brand) are just a few of the other Swiss companies that make and ship their products internationally.

But the best chocolate in Switzerland is not mass produced, it is made in small batches with lots of love.

Finding the best chocolate in Switzerland

With such a saturated market, it takes a lot of confidence to start up a small, boutique chocolate making enterprise in a country that is already known for this delicious and decadent confection. Yet that is exactly what Patrik König of Max Chocolatier has done and done quite successfully.

MAX chocolate boxes - the best chocolate in Switzerland
MAX chocolate boxes – the best chocolate in Switzerland

Despite Switzerland’s success at mass producing chocolate for the whole world, Mr. König felt that when it came to chocolate manufacturing, there was a lack of the traditional high end, hand crafted excellence that Switzerland was know for. He was looking to create the equivalent of a Rolex, but with chocolate.

I was introduced to the Max Chocolatier brand on a recent media trip to Lucerne, the home to their first boutique shop and now also the location for their new corporate headquarters and design studio. I was warmly welcomed into the beautiful lobby which looked like it belonged in an Architectural Digest magazine layout rather than a manufacturing facility.

As I toured through the steps of their chocolate making process, I also discovered more of the Max Chocolatier story. The company was founded with values described by four basic words: handmade, natural, bespoke, and Swiss.

Their chocolate making journey started with finding and using all the best quality ingredients, beginning with the cocoa beans which are specifically sourced just for them from different regions around the globe. The fair trade and sustainably grown cacao beans come from Indonesia and Madagascar in the east and Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic in the west.

Regions where MAX Chocolatier sources their cocoa
Regions where MAX Chocolatier sources their cocoa
Samples on display of the chocolate varieties used by MAX Chocolatier

A close partnership with a highly experienced local chocolate factory converts the chosen beans into a smooth, silky, chocolate base which will then be used to make their many unique artisanal creations.

Max Chocolatier – All handmade and artisanal

Walking through the Max Chocolatier production rooms, it was very obvious that the word “handmade” wasn’t just a gimmick, but a way of life. There were no big conveyor belts of large processing machines in this atypical chocolate factory. And no Oompa Loompas either.

From making the fillings to forming each bite sized morsel to decorating and packaging, I saw every step being made in small batches by skilled chocolatiers. Start to finish, every chocolate truffle takes four days to produce as each step in the process has to meet very exacting specifications. This truly was Swiss chocolate making as an art form.

And if making all this chocolate by hand wasn’t enough, the catalogue of flavors changes seasonally. The König family (yes, this is a family enterprise where every member takes part), continually refines the flavor choices and adds new creations every few months.

This summer’s collection includes unexpected combinations like watermelon with white chocolate mint, calamansi (a citrus fruit) and basil, lemon balm and forest fruit, or strawberry and lime, just to name a few of the unique flavor choices.

These are true bespoke, limited edition creations made with all natural ingredients, fresh alpine milk, and no preservatives. Enjoy your favorite flavor blend now because there is no guarantee it will come back.

With summer also comes more of Max Chocolatiers artisanal glace offerings, also all handcrafted in small batches. As with their chocolate truffles, these little ice cream cups come with a huge burst of flavors. Do I choose mango lemongrass, opus coffee, or 89% Madagascar chocolate – or maybe one of each?

All these little delicacies are sold at the company’s Lucerne boutique shop which was opened in 2009 in the heart of the old city center. A second boutique opened a few years later in central Zurich. Most recently, the corporate headquarters and design studio opened its doors in Lucerne, not far from the original boutique.

Besides being an architectural showpiece, the design studio also allows guests to take part in tasting sessions or become chocolatiers for a day. They offer a variety of workshops that will ensure you go home with a treat that is both personal and delicious.

Whether you choose to make truffles, chocolate bars, or a molded chocolate figure, you will learn all about the intricacies of working with chocolate and the subtleties of different cacao mixtures.

Packaging is also done by hand
Packaging is also done by hand

Finally, there is the unanswered question “who is Max”, the brand’s namesake? Max is the inspiration for Peter König and his family. Max is Peter’s son who also happens to have been born with an extra chromosome. Max is a chocolate lover and connoisseur. When Max tries the chocolate at “his” shop, he relishes the taste as if he had never done this before, hence the company’s motto “Experience chocolate for the first time”.

I must say that I have to agree with Max. When I tasted a few of that season’s chocolate truffles, the explosion of flavors in my mouth were certainly unlike any chocolate I have had before. Did I like passion fruit and caramel with a sprinkling of sea salt better than mango and coconut covered in dark chocolate? Why choose – I would happily take more of each.

Fortunately, after being spoiled with my chocolate tastings while in Lucerne, I can still indulge now that I am back home. Max Chocolatiers is happy to ship any of their products via Fed Ex all over the world (except the ice cream of course). If it is summer, it will be packaged appropriately so I don’t receive a melted mess. They also make vegan and lactose free options for chocolate lovers that are looking for such products.

Currently Max Chocolatier chocolate shops can be found in Lucerne and Zurich. To order their artisanal Swiss chocolates, you can find their current catalogue of delicious Swiss chocolate bars and truffles at  https://en.maxchocolatier.com/shop.


Please note that my visit to Lucerne was hosted by the Lucerne Tourism Board. all content and opinions are my own.


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