Terroir and its effect in chocolate

You probably have heard about “terroir” when people talk about wine. But, many people use this term without really understanding what it means.

According to the Dictionary.com, “terroir” can be defined as: “the environmental conditions, in which foods are grown and that give a final product its unique flavors and aromas”.

cacao and terroir

So, what is “Terroir” and how does it affect cacao and the chocolates we love?

Similar to wine, terroir affects chocolate too. Climate, soil, the terrain, the nearby plants and even traditions can be considered part of terroir, and they all influence the fruity, floral, earthy and nutty aromas of the chocolates we love.

In essence, it’s all the locally environmental and human effects contributing to the growth and production of cocoa beans, related to one region.

We already know that cacao from different countries might have different profiles. For example, cacao from Madgascar tends to have strong fruity aromas.  But even inside one country, there might be several cacao plantations and the cacao beans will have different flavors. For example, in Madagascar, most of cacao comes one region, in this case the Sambirano valley.  Others like Venezuela or Vietnam, might have many cacao growing regions, and each region grows different beans, with significantly different flavor profiles.

Craft Chocolate makers not only highlight the country origin, but now a days they make the effort of including the estate or plantation where the beans came from, since this might give the chocolate different characteristics.

And how about tradition?

Even cultivating techniques and production methods have an influence in cacao flavors. Very often this is related to specific region’s traditions or simply to improve weather conditions linked to that region.

For example, Papua New Guinea cacao beans are recognizable due to an intense smoky flavor. The climate in this region is very humid, so very often the beans are being dried over wood and fire. This gives the beans a very characteristic smoky and even tobacco flavor.

Terroir in Chocolate – Let’s keep learning, let’s keep Tasting

There are unique cocoa growing regions, with so much to offer. Craft chocolate makers keep searching for new high-quality beans and make amazing chocolate bars. Let’s keep learning about chocolate and the cocoa growing regions by tasting new origins.

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