The Chocolate Life

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Hello everyone,My name is Marcus I have been a chef for about 15years and definately have an obsession with good quality chocolate. In this discussion I would like to talk to anybody about the regions (varieties) of dark chocolate. From the beans to different flavours they produce,especially single origin chocolate. Thank you and look forward to hearing from you cheers marcus.
Hi Marcus,
Like you, I love high quality chocolate but I don't really understand the difference between grand cru and single origin. I'd like to order these delicious looking chocolate bars from this French online store:, but before I do, I'd like to know the difference between the different kinds. Could you give me some input on this?
Hello Marcus and DEFOE,

You should be able to get some good feedback on the subject of single origin dark chocolate at this site from the chocophiles here. Clay Gordon has a listing of flavor profiles of the beans for sale listed by country of origin at:

The above is on another page on this site.

I’ve seen some dispute regarding the term “single origin” as it is really a single country of origin from which the beans are sourced. It looks like there would be many farms and estates in each growing region in each producing country so some say that ‘single origin’ is not really accurate and doesn’t tell you much if it is just referring to a country. Maybe the term “grand cru” is a way of more specifically locating the source within country. Would that refer to an estate farm which the chocolate maker regards more highly than others within the country?

I see at the Histoire Sucree site you refer to that some of the chocolate for sale is identified by source country of the beans. Most consumers in the developed countries don’t have a chance to taste chocolate from a single source country because finished chocolate is so often made up of blends of beans. I guess for that reason, there aren’t established flavor profiles which are common knowledge in chocolate such as exists in the wine trade. The flavor descriptions listed for Clay’s un-roasted beans are pretty near the same as John Nanci’s descriptors over at the Chocolate Alchemy of beans which he has for sale. The various beans which I’ve roasted and processed at home follow the described profiles pretty well when I roasted them each to the suggested level. It’s important not to add unnecessary ingredients when processing so that you can really taste the flavors of the bean not the additives.

The best example I have is the Madagascar chocolate. This is profoundly different (I get less chocolate notes up front and very strong fruity notes (raspberry as described by others) with an extremely long finish. I roasted my Madagascar batch light as suggested; and processed with half vanilla bean per 4 pounds of chocolate liquor with 2 pounds of white cane sugar and 2 oz of added cocoa butter. The bean flavor carries through very nicely and is really remarkable ; absolutely unique as compared to the other beans listed on the C.Alchemy site. I hope to try some of Clay’s beans for comparison in future roasts.

The only way I could understand flavor profiles of chocolate by country of origin is by home roasting. I know there are single origin bars available but not so many that you could compare them at different roast levels and as blends of various roast levels (if you do this in the same processed batch.) Problem for some people with home roasting is that it does take a fair amount of equipment; may produce more finished chocolate than you want; doesn’t give you any baking cocoa for pastry purposes and does take some time to process (if I roast on Friday evening I ought to have finished chocolate by Tuesday or Wednesday following- unless I’m taking part of the batch to dark milk chocolate which will take another day or two.)

It looks like the French chocolate bars you noted available are for the most part from countries which are also offered on the home roasting bean offering sites. It also looks like you’d have to pay $30 per pound not including shipping. If you just want several ounces of a particular chocolate in 66% dark (that’s usually what I do) let me know and I’ll send you some of mine to sample. It’s just a hobby for me but might be a good way for you to taste some unique chocolate. I’m not to the point of selling anything as yet. Send me a note to: fhsdds at Also, see Shawn Askinosie’s web site at; he has several single country of origin bars for sale and does a good web-based retail business.

All the Best Tasting....
Frank Schmidt
Mr. WineCandy

Thanks for jumping in and offering a new perspective on this topic.

When I started writing about chocolate in 2001 I, like many others, used the term single-origin. As I started doing the research for my book in 2006 and set about trying to describe what single-origin meant, I quickly ran up against its limitations. What does "single-origin" mean when the single origin is an entire country as large as Venezuela and the beans might be a mix of beans from several growing areas?

For the book I adopted the simpler form "origin chocolate" to describe any chocolate that lists the source of beans used in its making. The origin can be very broad (an entire country - Madagascar), fairly specific (a growing region such as 'Sambirano Valley, Madagascar'), or very specific (a plantation - Hacienda Elvesia, El Valle, Dominican Republic).

I have come to prefer the simpler form and whenever the conversation goes in that direction I recommend its use.

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:: Clay


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