What is single-origin chocolate? Why do consumers consider this classification to imply greater ethical tracing and sustainability practices within single-origin production? Is there an actual difference in quality?
Single-origin chocolate is chocolate made from only one variety of cocoa bean, it has been grown in a particular region, and reflects a particular harvest season. Much like wine grapes, hop varieties in beer, and coffee beans, the taste of cocoa beans is affected by terroir - the soil, climate, and landscape in which they are grown. This unique combination of factors and timing impact overall flavors, size, color, aroma, and crop yields.
The concept of a single-origin chocolate bar isn’t new, however the surge in popularity of a specific offering has taken off in recent years. Prior to that, the trend was strong in single-origin cocoa liquors, but is making its way into butter and powder. Why? The pervasive belief is that single-origin offerings play into consumer’s desire for premium products. Single-origin products don’t inherently mean better, or sustainably manufactured but there are strong parallels to both. Better quality cocoa also involves better production and manufacturing methods alongside a carefully curated terroir. This is often perceived as higher quality to a consumer audience. Many buyers view single-origin ingredients as more exclusive and therefore more desirable.
Conscientious consumer habits have only increased in recent decades. Traceability is possible with some blended ingredients, through much trickier. Sourcing ingredients from a single origin allows companies to further improve traceability, right down to farming cooperative or even farmer level. Consumers trust when purchasing single-origin ingredients that they are buying a product that was ethically produced and is not excessively harmful to the environment or society.
We’re excited to see customers dive into single-origin offerings by showcasing the concentrated flavors of the beans and creating new tasting profiles. A bar from one origin highlights the specific attributes of its terroir. From an approachable Peruvian cocoa liquor, a bright and fruity Tanzania, or a rich, nutty bean from India. All offer their own benefits and notable features. Most notably, our Trinidad micro-lot projects are opportunities for us to bring single-origin beans to market that are too specialized, remotely sourced, or of a small crop yield that farmers might not be able to move and consumers wouldn’t be able to enjoy. Working directly with farmers at origin allows us to provide customers new levels of transparency and traceability straight from the farm gate.
We expect this trend to only increase and will be a consideration in chocolate for many years to come.