Long known for steaming mugs of quality coffee, Seattle is now flogging a different addictive substance: chocolate.

Local food writer Rebekah Denn explains it best, in an article titled “Seattle’s Chocolate Is Golden These Days.”

True, the Puget Sound area has had chocolate cred for years, with a citizenry weaned on Frangos and Boehms and raised on Dilettante. Fran’s, one of our most respected chocolate companies, is entering its 26th year.

But as gourmet chocolate reaches a wider U.S. audience—Starbucks is expected to launch a brand soon—and trends such as organic ingredients and ‘single-origin’ beans gain ground, Seattle’s streets may as well be paved with cacao beans.

Seattle chocolatiers stormed the Fancy Food Show in New York this summer, taking three of four finalist spots. Newcomer Theo Chocolate took the gold medal for Outstanding Chocolate, and recently won an equally coveted (and perhaps more lucrative) honor when it got a spot on Oprah Winfrey’s “best list” in O magazine.

There’s a new chocolate shop, the Chocolate Box, near the city’s famed Pike Place Market that focuses exclusively on local chocolates; come March, tourists can sign up for chocolate tours. According to Denn’s article:

‘Seattle has always been great at doing premium things,’ said Jean Thompson, chief executive officer of Seattle Chocolate Co., speaking by phone from Belgium, where she was touring chocolate factories after attending a candy show in Germany. ‘I just think of them as pioneers in that way, whether it’s a microbrewery or, of course, coffee. I think people in Seattle have a higher sensibility for style and for taste, and they’re willing to spend a little bit more on their special indulgences.’

Between the beer, the coffee, and the chocolate, I’ll take the chocolate.

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