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A Guide To Appreciating Chocolate

Oct 13, 2007
Mrs Gloop: Augustus, dont eat yourself
Augustus: But I taste so good!
Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Appreciating chocolate

Chocolate can be appreciated in the same way as wine and coffee. There are an increasing number of tasting events that encourage chocolate lovers to refine their appreciation for chocolate.

*A true chocolate lover finds ways to accommodate his passion and make it work with his lifestyle. One key is being discriminating.* (Julie Davis of the Los Angeles Times, 10/30/85) So what do you need to know to become a true chocolate aficionado? What should you be looking for when you taste chocolate?

Chocolate Liquor

The core ingredient of Chocolate is chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor is made from grinding the cocoa bean. The liquor can then be processed to produce cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Chocolate liquor is combined with quantities of cocoa butter, cocoa powder and additional ingredients (often including milk and sugar) to create different types of chocolate.

5 types of chocolate

There are five core types of chocolate. The defining factor for these different types is the ratio of cocoa liquor in the chocolate. Milk Chocolate contains at least 10% cocoa liquor. Sweet Chocolate contains at least 15% cocoa liquor. Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate contains at least 35% cocoa liquor.

Unsweetened Chocolate or Baking Chocolate is straight cocoa liquor formed into a bar. White Chocolate contains 20% cocoa butter and 14% total milk products.

Chocolate contains over one thousand five hundred flavour components. Chocolate has a complex layering of distinctive flavours and can be tasted much like wine and coffee. The flavours found in chocolate can be quite surprising. Coconut, Chilli and Cinnamon are often tasted in chocolate. Vegetable notes are also found with tastes of mushrooms, moss and fresh grass associated with chocolate.

Many people also associate floral tones such as jasmine, orchid, rose and orange blossom with certain types of chocolate. Distinguishing these subtle flavours can be an exciting aspect of chocolate tasting and can really enhance the pleasure of consuming chocolate.


Much like wine the flavour of the chocolate is affected by where the cocoa beans come from. Most chocolate is made from a mixture of cocoa beans from all over the world. Brazilian beans provide a bright acidic, well-balanced, subtle fruity flavour.

Columbian beans are moderately fruity, lightly bitter and have a deep cocoa flavour. Ghanaian cocoa beans have a deep, classic cocoa flavour they lend balance to more complex beans. Jamaican beans are reminiscent of pineapples and are bright and fruity with appealing aromas.

Trinidad and Tobago beans have a complex fruitiness plus an appealing spiciness. Madagascan cocoa beans have a light fruity citrus flavour; somewhat like a tangerine.


The texture of chocolate is a very important part of the tasting process. It can tell you a great deal about the quality of the chocolate you are eating. Firstly look at the surface of the chocolate. It should be smooth and free of blemishes. Break the chocolate.

Good quality chocolate should exhibit a loud crack. Touch the chocolate. It should feel smooth as opposed to powdery or sticky. Take notice of how the chocolate feels on the tongue. Is it thin, creamy, uniform, grainy or uneven? Does it have qualities like buttery, sour, and sugary?

So next time you are munching on a piece of chocolate take time to appreciate it. See if you can distinguish any unique or surprising flavours. See if you can guess where the cocoa beans that produced the chocolate came from and take time to analyse the texture of the chocolate. Above all remember;

*If any man has drunk a little too deeply from the cup of physical pleasure; if he has spent too much time at his desk that should have been spent asleep; if his fine spirits have become temporarily dulled; if he finds the air too damp, the minutes too slow, and the atmosphere too heavy to withstand;

if he is obsessed by a fixed idea which bars him from any freedom of thought: if he is any of these poor creatures, we say, let him be given a good pint of amber-flavoured chocolate....and marvels will be performed.*
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)

Seasonally chocolates are eaten and make suitable easter gifts, as well as Christmas gifts. Chocolate gifts can be delightful for birthdays among many other occasions too. They contain nutritious properties and are generally enjoyed by the majority of people in all their flavours and offerings.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is an expert on chocolates for the seasons. for more information on chocolate as christmas gifts visit ChouChoute
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