In practice, because there's no legal definition of how to calculate % cocoa, different companies do it different ways. Some do it the way Clay mentions above (anything coming from a cocoa bean); other very large companies use only the liquor % as the figure they use for the % cocoa calculation.
The government does not get involved with this, doesn't define it, and hasn't shown an interest in it. The net/net take away is - you can determine almost nothing from a % cocoa number alone; you'll have to speak to the manufacturer to gain insight as to how they calculated it.
The other thing to consider - most folks assume a higher number is 'better' for you as the belief is it contains more flavanols. While this *may* be true in some instances, i can identify more instances where it's not. HOW you produce your liquor is far more important than how MUCH of it you have when it comes to flavanols.
Thanks, Sebastian. You touch on something I had suspected, and that is how the process affects the flavanols. Do you have any guidelines to share for the lay person that might help a consumer in determining a product with higher flavanol content?
Generally speaking, the more you do to it, the less you have. The higher and longer you roast, the longer you process, if you alkalize, all of these things will degrade flavanols.
Yes.... but....a layperson wouldn't really have access to that info... are there any manufacturers known to minimally process their products? Thanks :-)
All of the major manufacturers have patented processes for product in this area. Mars calls their CocoaVia, for example.
There are a bunch of MLMs that tout their products as being minimally–processed (e.g., "cold-pressed") and that tout high ORAC ratings.
As I stated in another comment on this thread, the "raw" chocolate community - whatever raw really means in this context - is all about minimal processing. However, with only one exception that I am aware of, none of the raw chocolate companies have done any testing to actually support their claims of superior nutritional content (which does not relate to efficacy), and that one company has only done one ORAC panel, not a detailed analysis of what actually happens to cacao—from a nutrition perspective—during its transformation into chocolate.
The big guys - Mars, Barry Callebaut, etc., have all spent beaucoup $$ on gaining a very fine understanding of the processes, but most of it is proprietary and much of it is patented or patent pending. (And a lot more is probably trade secret and we will never learn about it.)
Forgive the question of a newbie here, but I am finding conflicting and unclear information elsewhere.... when a bar says 70%.. is that referring to only the cocoa content of the cocoa mass, or of the total volume of that particular bar?... In other words, would a 70% bar without nuts be, say, a 60% bar with nuts? Thanks.
Cocoa content refers to the chocolate component, not the inclusions. A bar made with 70% cocoa content chocolate is always 70% cocoa content.
The use of a hypothetical 100gr bar is confusing in some contexts, as you point out. In a chocolate bar with nothing else added, if the cocoa content is 70% then 70 grams will be derived from the cocoa bean.
In a 100gr bar of chocolate made with 70% cocoa content, if 40% of the weight of the bars is, say hazelnuts, then the remaining 60gr will consist of 42gr of cocoa (60gr x 70%). The remaining 18gr will be sugar, vanilla, lecithin (if used), and any other added ingredients.