SIS JOURNAL 7 | WHAT IS SINGLE ORIGIN CHOCOLATE? SOURCING THE CACAO BEAN
You might associate the term "single-origin " to coffee, but it applies to chocolate as well. As simple as it sounds, single-origin cocoa beans are sourced from a specific place, country, or even plantation (estate). The single-origin chocolate focuses on the flavour of the cocoa bean determined by the environment where the tree grows.
Before we tap into the differences between single-origin and blended, let's clear one thing out; the single origin chocolate is crafted by artisan chocolate makers and the blended chocolates if mass-oriented then are industrially produced by chocolatiers.
The different tastes of cocoa beans
Just like grapes, cocoa beans are harvested in different regions. Chocolate is affected by the environment where the cacao tree is grown. The nutrients in the soil, the landscape, altitude, and rainfall trigger flavours in cacao we call the terroir. It combines aromas of its region. For instance, cocoa unravels exotic fruit nuances. The cocoa from Venezuela reveals a nutty or floral profile. Tanzania's trees offer earthy beans.
Chocolate makers craft their single-origin chocolate carefully to emphasize the terroir.
So, what is special about the single-origin chocolate? It is luxurious, exquisite, and ethical and it is a heavenly treat for vegans. Single origins mostly contain a maximum of two ingredients: cacao and organic sugar. So, it is naturally vegan and gluten-free unless milk and other dairy products are added to it. They are usually produced in small batches which means they are more expensive.
Chocolate makers reveal the authenticity of the cacao
The bean-to-bar chocolate makers will oversee the entire process, step by step, from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar. They will buy the beans, roast, and grind them until the final transformation into a singular chocolate bar. The difference is that these people spend a great amount of time crafting and creating exquisite chocolate. This process is a sublime work of art. They endeavour to bring out the flavour of each cacao. In other words, they insist on boosting the terroir to remind us of its origin.
However, over the years, to meet the mass-production needs, chocolate factories blended probably the cheapest beans from different countries. They do not ensure quality because they add additives and other ingredients to standardize the taste. Their goal is to cover the bitterness and make it more enticing to our cravings.
There is no rule that single-origin is premium and blends are not. It all depends on whether the chocolate maker sources high-quality cocoa beans or low-quality beans. Hence, the outcome would be either exquisite or not.
The single-origin chocolate does not mean that it is healthier than a blend. If you seek to know where the cacao bean comes from and if you enjoy tasting the different savours you will probably choose the single-origin chocolate. Blends are exquisite too.
Let's keep in mind this general rule: Chocolate makers craft single-origin chocolate allowing the unique cocoa flavour to shine. Also, chocolate crafters do not have to be themselves the chocolate makers. They can buy the ready-made chocolate by chocolatiers and craft it by adding their twist and creativity to it.
What is craft chocolate?
It has become trendy to hear the term "craft". Craft beer, coffee, wine, or craft chocolate, it refers to the same idea. Talented and creative individuals craft something with full dedication, attention, and care. Crafting involves the human touch. Therefore, when buying a crafted product, we are guaranteed its quality but also its traceability. When you buy your chocolate, you will then get to know the chocolate maker but also the farmers and the process behind it. The single-origin crafted chocolate involves a lot of human energy and dynamics.
When we look to fulfilling our yearnings and desires, we could overconsume industrial chocolate. By doing so, we would be missing out on the fascinating universe of chocolate! Following the chocolate trail will unravel the mysteries of its goodness.
Sunday in Scotland an artisanal chocolate maker will allow consumers to taste different single-origin chocolates that introduce flavours of the chocolate world and its countless stories.
Quality and traceability are the creeds of single-origins crafted chocolate.
SUNDAY IN SCOTLAND JOURNAL