The Chocolate Life

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Genetics, terroir, fermentation and drying along with other post harvesting and processing stages can all play a role in the flavor of the chocolate we eat. Trying to understand why I experience what I am experiencing is a part of the enjoyment for me and also has enabled me to appreciate the skill of the makers of these chocolate bars. I was hoping this forum could improve on my "Notes on Flavor". It is a table that lists a flavor or mouthfeel with a possible explanation. There are definitely genetic and regional differences in cacao. That is really a bit more than I am addressing. I refer to notes by Peter Rot and Karen Hochman on ( for those descriptions of regional characteristics.

Between that type of list and the type of list I started it should be a good way to understand the flavors and experiences we have with the chocolate we eat. Any help correcting or adding to my notes on flavor is the idea behind this discussion. Also, if any one has any other ideas on understanding how flavors and mouthfeels are developed in single origin chocolate or blended chocolate it would be interesting to hear.

(Clay: What is the best way to add my file to the body of the discussion? It would be great if it could be viewed without having to open it as an attachment.)

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Your notes are Excellent and very helpful! Good job!!
Theobroma- Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad someone read it. If you have anything to add or change, please post it and I'll update the document. I wanted to add to my original post that there are actually three ideas I find useful when trying to understand flavors and experiences. 1. the inherent regional characteristics of cacao 2. harvesting and post harvesting practices (found in the notes I posted) 3. styles of the individual chocolate maker. It's #3 that I didn't mention in my original post. As I'm sure you are aware, many chocolate makers have a trademark flavor that you can identify in any one of their bars and say this is Pralus, or this is Amedei, no matter which bar you pick up. We may be starting another database here that tries to examine the styles of individual makers and interpret that style in some way. I think it will be difficult to do but worth the effort. Most companies aren't going to give away too many secrets though. Brady

I'd like to comment on part of what you said, "3. styles of the individual chocolate maker. ...As I'm sure you are aware, many chocolate makers have a trademark flavor that you can identify in any one of their bars and say this is Pralus, or this is Amedei, no matter which bar you pick up."

This is exactly along the lines of my interest. I'm mainly on here because I'm on a quest. Simply put-- I'm looking for the chocolates that I like best. Gathering information about the style of each maker would help further this objective. I already do it in my head, with reference to the notes in my database, anyway. I think that a great start would be a simple table similar to the one you've already done. Just put the maker in the left column and note common characteristics in the right column. We'd want to know if the company is Bean-to-bar or a Fondeur.

In fact, if I had the notes I could easily track this in my own Access database. I just don't have the expertise or the depth of experience to make authoritative statements so I leave that to others with more credentials.

To get the ball rolling I'm going to start another thread on this very topic...
So start posting any notes and observations at "Chocolate Maker Trademark styles".

I just found an article about this topic called "Five Facets of Fine Chocolate". This seems to be pretty much the same thing that you were saying, only expanded a little. It makes sense to me. Your point 3 would be their "Chocolatier's Technical Expertise". I'm going to study it more and learn what I can.

post deleted by Theo B

At the moment, I don't know that there is an easy way. I will take a look at the file and experiment with a few tools. I think that what needs to happen is to edit the document in an HTML/Rich Text editor, then cut and paste the code. As I say, I will experiment.

:: Clay
Theo Broma

Thanks for the link to FCIA. I hadn't seen their site before last week. I hear now that they will be at the Fancy Food Show in NY this month.

Hey Brady,

I just read your guide, and I thought it was really good. Have you checked out the book Cocoa (4th edition) by Wood and Lass? It has lots of useful information, especially about the varieties and differences between artificial drying methods, which affect chocolate flavor in a number of ways.
Hans: Thanks for the book recommendation. I've have seen this book online while doing other searches but never actually used it. I looked it up today and it is available at two libraries near me. I hope to have it in my hands in the next week.
Here is a collection of aromas found in wines and the chemicals that contribute to the flavors - and why.
I also added a laundry list of pyrazines and flavor chemicals that contribute to burnt sugar, caramel, and maple notes in a related post in the NerdZone group.
I am working in Vinces, Ecuador and am having problems with high acidity in the licor samples I am making. While searching for info i have found in Samanthas post that:

Acetic acid is produced by bacteria belonging to the Acetobacteraceae family. These bacteria dominate the second (aerobic) phase of fermentation. Acetic acid production peaks about 72 hours after fermentation begins [5], and it has been noted that diffusion of acetic acid through the whole bean is slow [6].

However, it's quite common for Criollo cocoa beans to be fermented for less than 72 hours - sometimes for only 48 hours. Hence, a short fermentation time typically produces less acidic beans than a longer fermentation. (A short fermentation also has major implications relating to taste and flavour development, as mentioned under the "mild flavour" heading above).

However Ive also found in Brady's attachment that:

Acidity (overly) • Short fermentation
• Cocoa grown from highly acidic soils.

So, one post says short fermentation period=overly acidic
while the other says a short fermentation time typically produces less acidic beans than a longer fermentation.
If anyone can help clarify, or suggest other possible causes of, and solutions to highly acidic licor I'd greatly appreciate it.


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