The Flavors & Aromas Of Varietal Chocolate
Page 3: The Differences In Single Origin Chocolate By Region
by Peter Rot & Karen Hochman
The Theobroma cacao tree grows in the rich soils of the tropical rainforest, in a global belt 20 degrees north and south of the Equator. While much of the flavor of the cacao is attributable to the genetics of the plant, the fermentation and drying of the cacao beans post-harvest, along with each region’s soil composition, climate and other factors, contribute to regional differences in cacao bean flavors.
Here we have developed—for the first time anywhere that we are aware of—a guide to the regional characteristics of the great chocolate producing countries. In other words, single origin chocolate.
It will help you understand and appreciate, for example, the differences among the Porcelana, Chuao, Maracaibo and Sur del Lago regions of Venezuela; or among cacao from Java in the Pacific, Trinidad in the Caribbean, and São Tomé, an island off the west coast of Africa.* Now when you read about chocolate from these areas, or consider them for purchase, or taste them, you have a very important frame of reference.
Before we start, let’s define the basic terms:
In sum, think single origin and don’t get confused by marketing. If the beans come from a single estate (i.e., one farm or plantation within the entire region), so much the better—that means the estate grows some amazing beans. But you’re still tasting cacao from the origin of Costa Rica, Java, São Tomé or wherever.
*This guide only references the regions acknowledged to produce the finest cacao, used by the most prestigious chocolatiers. A comprehensive list of cacao-producing countries includes Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, Jamaica, Java, Madagascar, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Saint Vincent and Grenadine, Samoa, Santa Lucia, São Tomé and Principe, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Windward and Leeward Islands.
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