Around the World with Chocolate
I don’t normally need a reason to celebrate chocolate, I tend to do it most days in my line of business (I know how lucky I am!)
However, World Chocolate Day is a biggie! It’s a chance to rejoice in all things chocolatey, from the farmers who produce cacao beans (the key ingredient to chocolate), to the chocolatiers that turn the beans into the melt in the mouth good stuff that led me to become a chocolatier!
This year, I want to celebrate the WORLD bit of World Chocolate Day, by appreciating the different taste sensations of cacao beans, grown around the globe, so you can make informed choices when purchasing a single origin chocolate.
Just like wine, the taste of chocolate varies depending on the region or country it is born, scientific stuff, like climate, soil and how the bean is harvested, all influence the final taste.
So, fellow chocolate lovers, fasten your seatbelt and join me on a whirlwind tour of some of the tastiest beans a country can produce!
Although South East Asia is fairly new to the cacao producing scene, production is rapidly rising, as chocolate makers around the world have fallen in love with the region’s distinctive tasting beans. Expect Vietnamese cacao, and chocolate, to have a gently spiced flavour.
Papa New Guinea
Papa New Guinea, with its excellent soil and rainforest conditions is perfect for growing cacao. It has a distinctly smoky taste, thanks to the unique way farmers dry the beans in this region.
Moving to the continent of Africa, Ghana is the second largest producer of cacao beans in the world, accounting for approximately 13% of total world cocoa production. The chocolate made with these beans is creamy and fruity with a creamy-sour and musty-woody taste.
Sao Tomé is the second smallest African country located near the equator (interesting fact – cacao can only grow between 20 degrees north and south of the equator!). The chocolate produced from these fine grade beans has a distinct caramelized-burnt, earthy and nutty taste profile with floral-fruity and bitter flavour.
Around 400 chocolatiers from across the world produce chocolate from the cacao grown in Madagascar, yet there are only around 5 growers selling beans here! As an island, the beans have a distinctive taste that chocolatiers love, with notes of red berries and citrus that give chocolate from this region a fruity twist.
Moving on to the Americas and the country where it all began…or at least where ancient Aztecs understood the value of cacao, trading it as currency. The cacao beans from this region have a satisfying, earthy taste. It can be difficult to find single origin chocolate produced in this region, but if you do, savour it, as it is delicious!
Peruvian cacao is characterised by its smoky bean, woody and sour flavour. The chocolate made from this diverse region is celebrated for its fruitiness and acidity with slight bitterness and sweetness.
Well known for its superior quality cacao beans, it’s no surprise that Ecuador is home to some of the world’s best chocolate producers. It has stunning mix of roasted and smoky flavours combined with floral-earthy and floral-winey notes.
In order to make a chocolate that has a unique taste in a very crowded market, chocolate makers will combine cacao beans from different countries. This can make it more difficult to find single origin chocolate, but on the flip side, this method has produced some amazing flavours.
Why not celebrate World Chocolate Day by taking your taste buds on a tingling journey around the world, appreciating and discovering the unique taste sensations of the diverse regions this magic bean is grown? And, if you’re interested to know how the humble cocoa bean is transformed into the decadent chocolate treat we all love, then read my journey from bean to bar blog.