I DON’T want to wish the summer away just yet, but as the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is almost upon us, my thoughts are turning to life’s small pleasures.

Chief among them is good quality chocolate in various forms: moreish dark sea salt caramels, truffles made with fresh Dorset cream, homemade brownies, or deliciously thick hot chocolate, made from scratch and flavoured with cardamom, so comforting after a long walk with my dogs.

The word “chocolate” itself evokes joy and happiness, and it triggers sweet childhood memories. Children’s books are chock-full of it, from a Wonka Bar in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, to chocolate frogs that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley share when travelling on the Hogwarts Express.

As Andrew Baker writes in the prologue to his new book, From Bean to Bar, A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Britain, “chocolate is a wonderfully powerful substance”.

His sumptuous guide-cum-travelogue feels long overdue: Britain was the country that gave the world the first mass-produced, affordable bars, and now British artisan makers are leading the way again, making some of the best bean-to-bar chocolate in the world.

It is no secret that we can’t get enough of it: every year, we eat 7,5kg each, which puts us in the global top five of consumers. Yet most of the chocolate we buy is mass-produced and contains a lot of fat and sugar, but very little cocoa, the ingredient that makes it so special.

There is nothing wrong with eating it, but I can promise you that reading Baker’s book will make you want to try what he calls “good stuff made by good people in the right way”: bean-to-bar, craft chocolate, lovingly made in small batches from ethically sourced ingredients.

The author, who is a self-confessed “chocolate nerd” and international judge, knows everything there’s to know about this magical foodstuff, and he spent a year travelling the length and breadth of Britain, meeting chocolatiers, discovering their secrets and tasting their wares.

But the book is not simply informative: it is also a pleasure to read, which is all the more impressive given that flavours, like scents, are notoriously hard to describe.

It seems that people who are passionate about making the best chocolate tend to set up their businesses in the most beautiful places, so this lavishly illustrated book is also a travel guide of sorts.

Baker clearly enjoys exploring not only new flavours, but also cities: while he doesn’t mention Salisbury, he describes Winchester and Swanage in great detail.

His guide will help every chocolate lover find delicious chocolate wherever they are: from my personal favourite, Suffolk-based Pump Street, to Edinburgh’s Chocolate Tree, you will want to taste them all.

By Anna Tuckett