GringosAbroad Ecuador

How to Taste Dark Chocolate: 11 Steps (República del Cacao)

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Our Travels

taste dark chocolateHow do you eat dark chocolate?

Do you eat it slow, savoring each bite? Or maybe you like to gobble it down in a few bites (like me)?

Learning to Savor Dark Chocolate

In this post, we learn how to actually taste chocolate. This is a new experience for me. (It’s so hard not to chew it!) 

For this test we have some of the best chocolate from Ecuador: República del Cacao and we taste test six of their premium dark chocolates.

A few weeks ago, we taste tested their flavored chocolates (including hot pepper, pineapple, coffee nibs, and rose petals).

How to Taste Dark Chocolate (11 Steps)

Watch on YouTube

Note: We were given a gift pack at no charge. We were not paid, or even asked, to give a positive review. We genuinely loved the product and recommend that visitors try this at least once while in the country.

Now for all the details.

Learn How to Taste Dark Chocolate: 11 Steps

As recommended, we started with the lighter chocolate and then moved to the darker (higher cacao solids) bar. This way, the darker chocolate flavors won’t overpower the lighter flavors.

Here are the steps to get the full dark chocolate experience:

  1. Be free of distractions: This allows you to focus on the flavors. Avoid things like music, television or other distracting elements.
  2. Start with a clean palate: Your mouth should be free of residue from a previous meal. You might use bread, an apple, or even a glass of water to clean your palate. You should also do this between tasting different chocolate.
  3. Take a large enough piece: You must taste a large enough piece of chocolate to detect the nuances. Approximately 10 grams is a good starting point.
  4. Taste at room temperature. Never taste cold chocolate. It won’t melt as quickly and the flavors aren’t released the same.
  5. Look at the chocolate: Look for blemishes and white marks (called bloom). You are looking for problems with air bubbles, swirling and uneven surfaces. While the defects won’t likely affect the flavor it does show the quality of production. Watch for a radiant sheen. Chocolate comes in a brown rainbow. The tints range from pinks, purples, reds, and oranges.
  6. Smell it: Smell plays an important part in the flavor. By inhaling the fragrance, you prime the tongue for the chocolate. And it just smells amazing.
  7. Break it: Listen for a “snap” sound. The snap will vary, depending on the temperature of the chocolate.
  8. Put the chocolate in your mouth. Place the piece on your tongue and allow it to arrive at body temperature. (Don’t chew it yet!) The cocoa butter needs to melt and distribute through your mouth gradually and naturally.
  9. Study the taste and texture. Concentrate on the flavors that unfold on the tongue. Notice how the flavor evolves during the melting process.
  10. Chewing is optional. If you must, chew a maximum of three times. Chewing may release too many flavors all at 0nce.
  11. Understand chocolate basics: Just what is chocolate liquor? And what about cocoa butter? Understanding the basics about chocolate will help you be a more discerning chocolate taster.

how to taste dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate Tasting Results

So how did it go?

For me, it was a great experience. I noticed subtle differences in texture and flavors – something I never took the time to do before.

Here are our favorites:

  • Dena’s Favorite: El Oro Province Bar Dena noticed delicate, sweet and smooth flavor.
  • Bryan’s Favorite: Manabi Province Bar Bryan noticed a fruitiness to this dark chocolate.

These are the different chocolates we tasted:

  1. El Oro Province (67% Cacao Solids): natural sweetness with a hint of flowers and fruit
  2. Los Rios Province (75% Cacao Solids): from Ecuador’s inland coastal region, has a slight blossom fragrance
  3. Galapagos Islands with Coffee Nibs (75% Cacao Solids): Enough said 🙂
  4. Manabi Province (75%): a subtle fruitness and a hint of spice
  5. Vinces Community Bar (75% Cacao Solids): This bar from La Comunidad Vinces is certified USDA organic and is produced with a focus on sustainability, traceability and tradition.
  6. Antigua Hacienda La Concepcion (85% Cacao Solids): At 85%, this is their highest cacao solids bar – meaning it is the darkest chocolate that they produce. Like Vinces Community Bar, this is also certified USDA organic.

taste dark chocolate

What is “Single-Origin” Chocolate?

All of these bars by República del Cacao are 100% produced here in Ecuador. Single-origin chocolate is chocolate produced within a single geographical origin. This can refer to a single farm or a single region within the country or province.

The bars we tasted are named based on the provinces of Ecuador where the cacao beans were grown.

Why “Arriba” Chocolate?

The origin of the word “arriba” has been traced back to the XIX century. While traveling on the Guayas River, a Swiss Chocolatier asked “where does the aroma come from?” The workman unloading the sacks of cacao answered “del rio arriba” or “from up the river.”

Your Turn

What is your favorite chocolate? How do you eat / taste chocolate?

Did we miss a chocolate-tasting step? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

3 comments… add one
  • Future.Travel Jan 4, 2015, 11:46 pm

    Brian and Dena,

    Thx for your report. Funny about chocolate…. there is so much bad stuff out there, so when you taste the ‘good stuff’ it is hard to eat the other. Hence I no longer eat USA chocolate, even the premium stuff is not quite right…

    I live in Vietnam where Cacao is grown and we have actually pretty good chocolate. I find that many dark chocolates are too sweet…. dark but way too sweet. The balance in sweet to flavour is the key in getting it right… and of course the ingredients.

    On my next trip to Ecuador I will try your taste test…


  • Richard Dec 26, 2014, 10:59 am

    Love the article, love chocolate!! Where can I buy this chocolate in the U.S.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 26, 2014, 5:07 pm

      You’ll have to visit Ecuador – they are only selling here in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

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