Why is dark chocolate actually bitter?

gute Schokolade ist nicht bitter
For many participants, the most exciting finding at our chocolate tastings is that dark chocolate doesn't have to be bitter. There is often even a collective fear of the dark chocolates that can be tried in our tastings. And even before the tasting really begins, there is usually the obligatory question about why we only try dark chocolate and where the bitterness comes from. As fans of fine chocolate, we love this question...
Dark supermarket chocolates are almost always bitter. And the fact that some are even euphemistically referred to as “fine bitters” doesn’t really make it any better. Quite the opposite! And so it happens that the attempt to turn to dark chocolate usually dissolves after a few bitter pieces and then you turn to milk chocolate again. So is the bitterness due to the higher cocoa content?

High cocoa content = dark chocolate?

You can already imagine: the cocoa content has absolutely nothing to do with the bitter note in the chocolate. We even know 100% chocolate , which is not bitter but fruity. What could be the reason? There are several steps in the chocolate manufacturing process that can affect the bitterness of the final product. Improper fermentation or unprofessional drying can lead to bitter notes in the chocolate.

The roasting makes the difference

Large chocolate manufacturers buy their cocoa beans on the raw materials market. In order to disguise the inferior taste, the beans are intentionally over-roasted. Estelle Tracy from 37 Chocolates can even support this theory with images. On the left you see a roasted cocoa shell from a large US manufacturer, on the right a roasted cocoa bean from a small manufacturer of fine chocolate. When you look at it, no one should be surprised why dark supermarket chocolate tastes bitter.

poor roasting of cocoa beans Over-roasted cocoa beans result in bitter chocolate © 37chocolates

The best from the bean

However, well-made, dark chocolate does not have to be bitter. Instead of bitterness, you can discover completely different notes in fine, dark chocolate, such as fruity, spicy, floral, native aromas. Similar to wine, there are endless flavors to discover when it comes to fine chocolate! It's best to see for yourself: get a good 70% chocolate (we have a few suggestions ;-) ) and compare it with a dark supermarket chocolate of your choice. You might even notice that the supermarket chocolate not only tastes bitter but also tastes strongly of vanilla/vanillin. This is also a common method to drown out the unpleasant aromas of the inferior beans.

Are you really interested in the bean?

Have you got a taste for it and want more? Does your team (still) work from home or at different locations? Maybe a chocolate tasting as a team event would be just right for you...

Header photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash

Reading next

Gute Schokolade hat ihren Preis
Gute Schokolade hat ihren Preis