With so many various varieties of chocolate and thousands of cocoa farms throughout the world, how do you know what chocolate is best? Chocolate’s decadent taste begins with the quality of the cocoa bean itself and by the techniques of the farmers who grow them. Below is a list of details that greatly affect the taste of your favorite chocolate.
The location where the cocoa bean is grown greatly affects the quality of the cocoa bean, therefore affecting the taste of the chocolate product itself. Although production of cocoa is most prevalent in the Africa’s, many historians believe the cocoa plant is native to the America’s because of its rich heritage in Latin American texts and verbal stories.
Because the cocoa plant can only be cultivated within 20 degrees of the equator, many of the worlds cocoa beans ultimately do not meet the cut and are not used for chocolate production. The lowest quality beans are usually used for chocolate products that have a minimal chocolate content. This applies to mass marketed chocolate products that have 1-10 percent cocoa content.
Cultivation Methods/Maturity of Bean:
Aside from the location of the cocoa plant itself, the cultivation method used by cocoa farmers is the most important factor when grading high quality chocolate. The diligent work of the farmers and how long they allow the bean to grow to mature affects the deep, rich nature of the bean pod.
Many farmers do not have the luxury to allow the beans to fully develop and create the maximum chocolate content. Because the process of growing high quality chocolate is time consuming and costly, many farmers, incentivized by monetary reasons, do not allow the bean to fully mature. To get the best cocoa bean, you need a farmer who has no incentive other than growing the best coca bean.
Once the cocoa bean is fully cultivated, the farmers usually send the beans out to chocolate producers who refine the bean for the purpose of chocolate production. The methods used coca bean producers affect the taste of the finished product.
Each producer has their own financial goals and customer chocolate requirements; therefore the quality of the chocolate is dependent on who the producer is targeting there cacao beans to. Ultimately the price a consumer is willing to pay for each style of cacao bean is going to greatly affect the quality of the producer. The chocolate producer may have a goal of creating the richest and intense cocoa flavor possible which in this case the producer will spend more time developing their product, while other producers may have a goal of creating mild tasting cocoa beans for products that do not have a deep chocolate flavor.