Art of Chocolate Tasting

The Art of Chocolate Tasting

Tasting chocolate is a very personal thing, tastes vary from one person to another, chocolate and cocoa are as diverse as the continents that they originate from. Chocolate is just like wine, whisky or coffee, there are many factors which contribute to the final flavour of the chocolate.

The most important point is where the cocoa is grown and the variety of the beans. Cocoa is a very fragile tree and grows only in tropical regions within latitudes of 20 degrees either side of the equator, where it is dependent on a year-round temperature of 70-77°F. Cocoa is usually surrounded by other trees which provide shade & protection from harsh sun. This protection is very important when the tree is young as they only need 50% of the available light. Cocoa grows better above sea level and requires at least 65-70% humidity all year round; a cocoa tree reaches full maturity after approximately ten years.

Tasting fine chocolates and cocoas should involve the five senses:

First, we LOOK at our chocolate, it should be smooth and glossy, indicating that the cocoa butter has been properly crystallized or tempered.

Next, we TOUCH our chocolate, it should not melt immediately in your fingers, no sign of graininess or a sandy texture.

Next, we LISTEN for a snap as we break our chocolate, this is another indication of well-tempered cocoa butter, milk chocolate will never snap in quite the same way due to its milk solids content.

Taste is 90% SMELL, if we hold our nose before putting the chocolate in our mouth, allowing the chocolate to melt slowly coating our mouth, and then release our nose, we will get a sudden rush of flavour which fills our sinuses with sublime aromas and flavours.

Finally, we TASTE our chocolate, allowing it to melt slowly on the tongue, coating our mouth, this way we appreciate all the subtle aromas and flavours in our fine chocolates.

I am very proud to use Callebaut’s Finest Belgian Chocolate which is produced from sustainably grown cocoa under the Growing Great Chocolate and Cocoa Horizons Foundation program which is better for cocoa farmers and provides them with a fairer living, better agricultural training, access to funding and many other benefits.