So What is Fine Flavour Chocolate Anyway?
Fine Flavour chocolate makes up a very small percentage of total cocoa production worldwide. Compared to most high street and supermarket brands, fine flavour chocolate offers:
Premium quality beans
Much greater flavour
Better prices for farmers than Fair Trade
Pure ingredients- no palm/vegetable oils and preservatives
Cocoa beans, like coffee beans, have their own unique and distinctive taste, depending on where they are grown. Flavours of cocoa beans range from fruity to floral, spicy to nutty. Chances are, if you've only ever eaten supermarket chocolate or a few of the popular high street brands (like me a few years ago) you didn’t know that such a range of flavours exist.
And that’s because most of the chocolate used by big industries and high street brands originate from plantations in West Africa. These cocoa pods have been specially developed to produce high yields. But in most cases, they do not produce great quality or flavour.
Industry doesn’t seem to really care about this. It’s a bit like the supermarket tomato- bland and acidic. But people still buy it, because everybody wants tomatoes at affordable prices. And with chocolate, most people don't notice the lack of flavour because once the cocoa has been combined with ample amounts of sugar, vanilla, milk powder and other additives, it tastes nice enough. Plus, this is what we’ve been used to all our lives.
So what makes fine flavour chocolate different? A very basic explanation of fine-flavour chocolate is this: it originates from two varieties of cocoa beans- Criollo and Triniato- which are lower yielding but higher quality, and fully impacting in flavour (particularly some Criollo varieties). Depending on what part of the world the beans come from, their flavour varies incredibly. From deeply rich and flowery cocoa, to nutty and spicy, with hints of coffee, to fruity and sweeter.
The flavour of chocolate varies from plantation to plantation and yield to yield. Even the way the beans are processed and turned into chocolates affects the flavour. I’ve found that uniformity of flavour in the craft chocolate industry is not something makers strive for- after all, how can you have a totally uniform product when chocolate changes with every harvest?
For me, the exciting bit of chocolate making is receiving my boxes of cocoa beans in the post- two different beans from the same region- and noticing the differeces in the making process and in the final product. Right now I'm working with two types of Peruvian beans. While both are quite fruity in taste, one has a much richer and deeper chocolate taste. I'm hoping that at least one of these will be up for sale soon.
For those who aren't familiar with fine flavour chocolates, I will be launching a dark chocolate taster box soon- a brilliant way of tasting some of what the finest cocoa beans in the world have to offer.