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Understanding Cocoa Percentages

Posted by Theo Chocolate on Jan 3rd 2024

One of the most frequent questions we receive is: "what does the percentage on a chocolate bar mean?" Most people know that the higher the percentage, the darker the chocolate, but don't know exactly what that number actually represents.

So what does cocoa percentage mean?

The percentage of cocoa you see on a label is the measurement of the chocolate bar’s weight that comes from actual cocoa beans (including cocoa liquor and cocoa butter), also known as cocoa mass. So the percentage is a simple calculation of the cocoa mass divided by the total weight of the bar.

The balance of that percentage includes the other ingredients that make up the particular chocolate. At Theo, we keep our chocolate simple and use whole food ingredients, so the only other ingredients that affect the cocoa percentage are cane sugar, vanilla and sometimes, milk powder.

But what about a chocolate bar that’s not just pure chocolate? Maybe your favorite chocolate bar is dark chocolate with almonds, or maybe it's a bright burst of orange. Using the same base chocolate for each of these bars means the cocoa percentage would be the exact same as a plain dark chocolate bar – at Theo, all of these delicious flavors would be our 70% dark chocolate. The same is true of our 45% milk chocolate and 85% dark chocolate bars, too. Inclusion ingredients, like nuts or fruit and even bread, do not affect the cocoa percentage. Cocoa percentage only applies to the chocolate.

The Anatomy of a Theo Chocolate Bar

In the case of cocoa percentages, more does mean less! When a chocolate bar has a higher cocoa percentage that means it has more cocoa mass and less room for other ingredients like sugar.

Let’s take a closer look at two of our pure chocolate bars to understand how these ingredients affect the cocoa percentage.

45% Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate always has a lower cocoa percentage, since milk powder and more sugar are used to create the sweeter flavor profile. Theo milk chocolate has a higher cocoa percentage than most conventional milk chocolate, so its cocoa flavor is more pronounced, while still giving you the creamy flavor of milk chocolate.

70% Dark Chocolate

We make a few different types of dark chocolate at Theo (ranging from 55% to 85% cocoa percentages), but our 70% dark chocolate is used in more of our treats. Since dark chocolate does not include any milk powder, the difference between each cocoa percentage is the amount of sugar used in each.

70% Dark Chocolate is made up of 70% cocoa liquor and cocoa butter (cocoa mass) and 30% cane sugar and vanilla bean
Salted Cashew chocolate bar on blue background

85% Dark Chocolate

Are you looking for chocolate with lower amounts of sugar? Look for the highest cocoa mass percentage. At Theo, we have a line of treats made with 85% chocolate, that we call Extra Dark, to help you quickly find our lower sugar options. Whatever the percentage, you can taste Theo’s commitment to using the highest quality ingredients in all of our delicious treats!

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