Today is World Chocolate Day and we need no excuse to celebrate this wonderful and beloved confection that’s enjoyed around the world! Here at ChocZero we love talking about chocolate almost as much as we love eating it, so this seemed like an excellent moment to talk about one of the most important ingredients in our chocolate.
The importance of cocoa beans
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are varied: each region and type of cocoa bean has subtly different characteristics that create a unique flavor profile when turned into chocolate.
When Michael, ChocZero founder and CEO, was first developing our chocolate, he knew that cocoa beans were a foundational ingredient. You can’t just grab any old cocoa bean, you need to carefully select your beans with an eye to type, climate and farming method, all of which influence the final taste and texture of your chocolate.
Three varieties of cocoa bean
There are three main varieties of cocoa tree: Criollo, which traditionally is considered to have the richest taste, but which is low yield and susceptible to pests, Forastero, which is a hardy high-yield plant and makes up the bulk of the of the global cocoa supply, and Trinitario, a hybrid that achieves the best of both beans! There are also many sub-varieties of these three main types, each with their own history and nuances.
Flavor is key, of course, and yield is important when making anything other than tiny single batch runs of chocolate. But there are other considerations when it comes to choosing your cocoa bean.
ChocZero Cocoa Beans are Fair Trade and Slavery Free
We chose to turn to South America for our cocoa beans, in order to avoid the exploitative child slavery practices that permeate the supply chain in other regions of the world. Our South American beans cost more, but they are fairly traded and slavery free. As a result, we are proudly listed as part of the Food Empowerment Project.
From there, we tried out over 20 different varieties of cocoa beans before we finally found the one. That variety of cocoa bean is used in all of our chocolate, from our squares to our keto bark to our peanut butter cups! It’s unique to us and a big part of what makes our chocolate so good.
How to (really) taste chocolate!
If you want to appreciate the finer points of our cocoa, we recommend a chocolate tasting! There are a few steps to tasting chocolate:
To start with, make sure you drink some water to clean your palette.
We recommend using our chocolate squares for tasting. The higher the percentage, the stronger the cocoa flavor. Ideally, chocolate should be at room temperature (around 65°F) when tasted.
Start by unwrapping your chocolate and smelling it! The aromatics of chocolate is a big part of how it tastes, so appreciate it like you might a glass of brandy and breathe in those glorious chocolate-y notes.
Next, put a small piece of chocolate into your mouth and let it melt. By allowing the cocoa butter to gently release, you’ll experience a slow unfolding of flavor that will really let you savor all the complex elements that make up a vibrant chocolate. You might notice floral, nutty, or fruity accents as you taste it.
Note the way the chocolate feels as it melts. Cocoa butter is delectable, and there is nothing quite like it for a silky smooth mouthfeel.
All chocolate tastes different. The flavor is influenced by everything from the type of cocoa bean, the climate and soil where it’s grown, the harvesting method and the conching process. Flavors are also influenced by the additional ingredients in the chocolate. For example, we add real Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Beans which have a richer vanilla flavor.
And then, of course, everybody has a slightly different palate and can pick out different notes and flavors -- meaning that every bite of chocolate is a uniquely personal experience between you and the cocoa bean!
Want to set up your own chocolate tasting?