What does single origin chocolate mean?

14 Apr 2020

Chocolate Knowledge

Single origin chocolate is a simple concept, but it can have a huge impact on flavour – and sustainability.

Single origin chocolate is chocolate made from just one variety of cacao bean, grown in a particular region. This has a significant impact on the flavour of the chocolate, as rather than eating a chocolate with a blend of different cocoas, you are sampling the specific flavour notes and aromas of a specific cacao bean.

Most often, single origin chocolate only refers to the cocoa used in the creation of the chocolate bar, although it is possible to find chocolate where the milk solids and sugar all come from the same region as well.

How does being single origin affect the taste?

The cacao used in chocolate comes from Theobroma cacao, or the cacao plant. Just like the vines that produce grapes to make wine, the cacao plant takes on different characteristics and grows differently in different areas.

Each region has its own unique features, that we call the terroir. This takes into account the climate of the area, the landscape – is it in a protected valley, or open to the elements? – the soil quality, and the microorganisms found within the soil. All these affect the way the cacao plant grows and how well it thrives in a particular area, although cacao plants are limited in the regions they can be grown in. The way these factors combine gives the cacao fruit – and the chocolate made from it – a distinctive region-specific flavour that is lost when the cacao beans are blended to make chocolate.

Is blended chocolate bad?

Not at all! In fact, many chocolatiers – us included – think blending cocoas is an art in itself. We use different cocoas and mix them together until we create a perfectly balanced chocolate that is ideal for its purpose; whether that is to be enjoyed alone or to complement the flavours in our chocolate boxes.

Although single origin chocolate has a distinctive flavour from a specific place, if you maintain the same cocoa ratios in blended chocolate it also maintains its own unique flavour. In fact, some chocolate companies such as Mars and Hersheys have their own proprietary blend so their chocolate is easily recognisable!

Why choose single origin chocolate?

Single origin chocolate is often a little more expensive than its blended siblings, but there’s a good reason for that. Relying on one region or farm to provide the cacao beans means we can only buy them in season, and much less is produced than on larger farms.

Buying single origin chocolate gives you a better awareness of where your chocolate came from, and at Hotel Chocolat we believe that it also helps us in our sustainability mission. As a company, we support single origin, which provides consistent purchases for cocoa farmers, giving them a stable income and aiding economic growth in the area.

Our selection of single origin chocolate

We chose seven countries to represent our single origin chocolate range; from the verdant slopes of Colombia to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Tanzania, Colombia, Ecuador, and of course our own Rabot Estate on St Lucia. Unblended to respect the nuanced flavour profile of each harvest, try our 100% Honduran cocoa for a savoury, intense hit of chocolate, or go for a more mellow approach with our 55% Nicaraguan malted milk chocolate.

Give your chocolate cravings an upgrade with our rare and vintage single origin range, made bean-to-bar in our small-batch roastery.