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Cocoa Conversations: How To Taste Chocolate

Posted by Theo Chocolate on Feb 23rd 2023

Did you know there was a secret to eating chocolate?

Let it melt in your mouth! Chocolate can release multiple flavors as it melts.

Theo Chocolate bar pieces just starting to melt


At Theo we taste and approve each batch of chocolate before we use it to create our delicious chocolate treats in our Chocolate Factory. Although we have formulations, cocoa beans are an agricultural product, so there is always some variation in the finished chocolate. Making chocolate is a craft in much the same way as making wine—someone’s palate is always involved. We let the cocoa beans guide our recipes: some chocolate lends itself to standing alone, and others pair well with inclusions such as nuts, fruits, or spices.  

You don’t need to be an expert to taste chocolate. In fact, all you need is some high-quality chocolate and a little patience! Here is a step-by-step guide to tasting chocolate at home: 

Look: Dark chocolate should have a rich brown color (color will vary with bean origin and cocoa percentage) and a beautifully glossy surface. 

Break: A clean, crisp snap reveals that the chocolate is in temper, meaning the cocoa butter, or natural fat of the cocoa bean, has bonded with the cocoa solids. A proper temper gives chocolate its optimal texture. 

Taste: Let a small piece of chocolate melt in your mouth. Is it creamy and smooth, or slightly dry and complex? Chocolate can release multiple flavors as it melts. Breathe in, drawing air over your palate to emphasize these tastes.  

The most common flavors found in chocolate fall into a number of different categories. Here are a few examples to help guide you to the perfect flavor descriptions:

  • Sweet - honey, vanilla, malt  
  • Bitter - coffee, hoppy beer, tonic water 
  • Dairy/Caramel - cream, butterscotch, crème brûlée 
  • Fruity - berry, stone fruit, citrus, jam  
  • Floral - lavender, rose, tea  
  • Sour - vinegar, lemon, sour milk 
  • Vegetal - tobacco, grass, eucalyptus 
  • Earthy - wood, smoke, mushrooms 
  • Roasted - toast, nuts, smoke 
  • Spicy - black pepper, chili pepper, cinnamon 
  • Chocolaty - brownie, chocolate pudding, hot cocoa  

Finish: Take one more deep breath to help analyze the chocolate’s finish. “Finish” describes how long the flavor lasts in your mouth, and the residual experience on your palate, such as mild, harsh, astringent, smooth, spicy, mellow, etc. 

If you want to learn more about chocolate, then you should take a Virtual Chocolate Tasting Class with us.  

Woman sitting in chair with box of chocolate, joining a virtual chocolate tasting class on her laptop.

During the class, your host will share the fascinating history of chocolate and how we craft our organic, fair trade chocolate from scratch. Then, we'll guide you through the best part: an extensive, guided chocolate tasting. This class is interactive, so you'll be able to ask questions, share your tasting thoughts, and compare with others in your class.