The first thing you need to understand is that not all chocolate is created equal—there are good chocolates and then there are great chocolates (and some not-so-great ones). So where do these differences come from? The answer...single origins.
In recent decades, discerning chocoholics have been gravitating towards what they consider "single-origin" chocolate - in other words, chocolate made in one country or region using cocoa beans from that area.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree. Cocoa trees grow in tropical climates near the Equator, between the latitudes of 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south.
Chocolate bars have been a ubiquitous treat for hundreds of years, usually consisting of a simple combination of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla.
In modern times, chocolate has gained popularity as more exotic flavors have emerged from different countries around the world.
What is Single Origin Chocolate?
Single-Origin chocolate is exactly what it sounds like: chocolate that comes from a single place.
Single-origin chocolates have increased in popularity recently due to the unique flavors they offer. Even large candy companies such as Hershey's or Cadbury's have gotten on board with making "single-origin" bars.
The term single origin in chocolate is used in a similar manner to single malt in scotch, which means that the chocolate is made with 100% cocoa beans from one region.
For example, if you eat a bar of Venezuelan dark chocolate, it will taste different than eating Ecuadorian dark chocolate because they were grown in different regions.
The flavor profile will be slightly different for each country's soil conditions and weather patterns. This means that there are more nuanced flavors to enjoy when you buy single-origin chocolates instead of just buying whatever type of bar is on sale at your local supermarket chain store.
Distinct flavor of Single Origin
As far as flavors go, single-origin chocolate can have very nuanced differences due to the unique chemical compositions of the soil in which it was grown and cultivated. Though much associate cocoa with its inherent spicy notes, this is heavily influenced by the surrounding growing environment.
The term "terroir" is used to describe how geography influences taste and flavor - terroir affects everything from winemaking to coffee production, and it has an equally big impact on chocolate production.
Distinct flavors that vary from country to country emerge because each area has its own perfect growing conditions.
In Ecuador, warmer weather allows the beans to ripen more quickly, producing a fruitier flavor than chocolate from cooler climates.
In Venezuela, bitter orange notes dominate.
Costa Rica produces sweet and delicate chocolate with fruity undertones.
Smooth chocolate with a mildly thick mouthfeel comes from Madagascar.
Chocolate made in Papua New Guinea has floral aromas and a fruity flavor.
Uniqueness of Single Origin Chocolate
Many chocolatiers are choosing to produce Single Origin chocolates because it allows them to highlight the unique farming techniques, rare varietals, and terroir of their individual products.
The uniqueness associated with single-origin chocolate has become a draw for wine enthusiasts who can appreciate the complex mix of tastes that come from various geographical regions around the world.
It allows them to experience the natural flavors of the cocoa bean, which become more pronounced as chocolate is produced without adding other ingredients like vanilla.
Because each region has its own unique growing conditions, the taste of chocolate from one country will be quite different from that of its neighbor.
Child Labour Friendly
For many, purchasing chocolate that is labeled as single-origin helps ensure that their chocolate has not been produced using slave labor by knowing the source of the cacao beans.
Possible Health Benefits
Some have associated dark chocolate with health benefits because it naturally contains compounds called flavonoids that may have antioxidant effects when consumed in larger amounts.
In addition to high-quality cocoa, single-origin chocolate tends to use organic ingredients and less sugar than most commercial brands.
Advantages of Single-origin Chocolates
There are many advantages of single-origin chocolates over regular bars of chocolate. The first is that they feature far more varied and complex flavor profiles than mass-produced brands which rely heavily on vanilla flavoring.
Single-origin chocolates have an advantage over other types of chocolate because they do not contain low-quality ingredients such as preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors.
Single-origin bars also offer more transparency into how the food was sourced and manufactured, allowing consumers to make educated decisions about what they eat. They give you an understanding of where your food comes from and who makes it while letting you know exactly what is in your food.
Is Single Origin Chocolate fair trade?
While some have associated fair trade chocolate with being single-origin, that is not always the case.
Fair Trade certification exists to ensure that all laborers are treated fairly and paid well for their work, regardless of where it is completed. It also ensures that workers are not exploited or forced into slave-like conditions in order to increase profits for manufacturers.
However, few of the Single Origin Bean to Bar Chocolate manufacturers like BeeTee's Melt Chocolates import the cacao beans from UTZ Certified farms. Thus, it ensures that the farmers get real benefits and cacao is produced from an environment free from exploitation.
Single Origin Chocolate in India
India is one of the largest producers of cacao beans. The concept of single-origin chocolate has started finding interest among Indian chocolatiers and connoisseurs.
There has been a huge demand for high-quality cocoa beans from across the world as international interest in artisanal products increases.
Chocolate is increasingly becoming an ingredient of choice among top chefs and bartenders. Today, you have many options to choose from when it comes to buying a single-origin bean-to-bar bar of chocolate made either by a big player or a small artisan company.
In India, chocolatiers are getting increasingly interested in producing their own brands of single-origin chocolate.
One such brand which is making the mark in the single-origin chocolate is BeeTee's Melt Chocolates.
BeeTee's Melt Chocolates
Bee Tee Melt is an artisan chocolate maker who sources cocoa beans from farms around Vietnam and Kerala and then makes chocolate right here in India!
They source their cocoa beans directly while bringing home to you an exceptional range of single-origin chocolates made with care and passion.
The single-origin chocolates are made in micro-batches and the chocolates are 100% Preservative-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free.
Future of Single Origin Chocolate
There has been increasing interest in organic and single-origin chocolates among Indian consumers.
Artisanal chocolate makers offer a more sustainable alternative by directly importing cocoa beans from local farmers who care for their labor force and work ethic while using less packaging materials to further reduce carbon emissions.
While mass-produced brands and other conventional forms of chocolate will continue to dominate the market, artisanal products like BeeTee's Melt Chocolates are challenging the status quo and creating awareness about how cacao is actually sourced and produced.