The cocoa plant is similar to wine and coffee: it absorbs aromas and properties of the environment and the region in which it grows. The concept of 'terroir' is probably not unfamiliar to the casual wine drinker. And it applies equally to chocolate. In this sense, the taste of chocolate – like wine or coffee – can be described using similar vocabulary. For example, chocolates from certain regions are particularly fruity, floral, earthy or berry-like... to name just a few terms.
Single origin chocolate and terroir
The location of the cocoa tree is important for the aromas ( Photo by Seyiram Kweku on Unsplash )
When cocoa beans from different countries of origin are mixed, their specific 'terroir' - i.e. the special taste of the region or even the individual farm ('single plantation': like Soklet or Auro ) - is lost. This is almost always the case with supermarket chocolates! The main thing here is speed, low prices and getting a consistent taste experience. That's why the cocoa is usually imported from African countries such as Ghana or Ivory Coast - often as finished cocoa mass - and then processed into a uniform end product. Since these are often less tasty cocoa beans, they are subjected to strong roasting. The result is basically the opposite of the idea behind 'Single Origin': bland uniformity with a lot of sugar and other additives.
The mixture doesn't...don't do it
Of course, there are also good 'blends' - i.e. chocolates with cocoa beans from different countries - that are still extremely good. Depending on the properties of the cocoa beans, as with coffee, a beautifully balanced chocolate can result. So if you come across a really delicious 'blend' chocolate, you shouldn't ignore it. Ultimately, the most important thing is whether you like the chocolate. As with single origin chocolates, your main focus should be on the origin of the cocoa beans and a transparent chocolate supply chain. And this is often particularly difficult with so-called 'blends'. This is also why we almost exclusively have single origin chocolates in our shop.
Even though we praise the 'Single Origin' concept so much, it is unfortunately also known to many marketing departments of larger chocolate manufacturers. And unfortunately, these are often more concerned with sales than with taste. As already mentioned above, it is not enough if a chocolate says 'Single Origin'. Just like a 'blend' doesn't have to mean anything bad. A good example is Ghana: Of course it's nice when all the cocoa beans in a bar come from Ghana. Unfortunately, this doesn't make the chocolate tasty, fair or sustainable. In Ghana in particular, it is difficult to get truly fair and sustainably grown cocoa beans. And if Ghana, for example, were to provide particularly different flavors in different regions, it would be a shame if all the cocoa beans were simply thrown together.
'Single Origin' as a quality feature?
In Venezuela, for example, the different regions offer such exciting flavors that a chocolate made with cocoa beans from all over Venezuela would probably be less exciting. However, a chocolate from the Chuao region could be particularly exciting. This would then be 'Single Region' or even 'Single Farm/Plantation'. By the way, it can be particularly exciting to compare several chocolates from different regions of the country with the same cocoa content (preferably around 70%).
Fair, fairer, origin chocolate
No matter whether 'Single Farm', 'Single Origin' or 'Blend'. The most important question is not the origin of the beans, but whether the cocoa beans come from fair and social conditions. You can either check this yourself...or purchase chocolate directly from us ;-). Because we look closely at all the manufacturers, ask questions, visit them and check the cocoa cooperatives as best we can. Wherever we can, we buy the chocolates directly from manufacturers in the countries of origin. Because even with fair conditions and direct trading of cocoa beans, the majority of sales always remain with the chocolate manufacturer (at least 30% +).
Therefore, it is of course best for the local communities and economy if manufacturers also produce and export the chocolates there. We have already achieved our first sub-goal. In (almost) all of our boxes and tastings, over 50% of the chocolate comes directly from local manufacturers. What is also interesting about these chocolates is that they are often (not always) produced for local markets. Accordingly, they often taste different than those from European chocolate producers.
You can also find single-origin chocolates in our shop in our tasting boxes or at our virtual chocolate tasting team events .