The Quality of Chocolate

Let's make high quality chocolates the norm

What's your favourite Chocolate?

But what should I look out for during the tasting and how do I recognise good chocolates?
What characteristics do different cocoa varieties have and what role does origin play? 

Background information can help you in your search for genuine enjoyment.

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Before we define what makes good chocolate, it’s important to understand how it is made. Eating chocolate is the easy part, but many people don’t know how to make chocolate. Each step of the chocolate manufacturing process has a major impact on the end flavor and overall quality of the chocolate product. Ignoring quality standards at any step in the chocolate manufacturing process negatively impacts the quality and depth of flavor when your chocolate candy hits the store shelves.

Making pure Chocolate is an art, and the Team of Chocolats Caractère are Master in it. If you need to find yourself in a tranquil mood with delicious Chocolates, try our Goodies.

Ingredient Quality Considerations 

We’ve established that the cocoa bean growth and processing affects the flavor and quality of chocolate, but what about the other ingredients? The chocolate you consume is more than cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. The quality of the non-chocolate ingredients, including milk, sugar, vanilla and stabilizers, also affects the quality of the finished chocolate product.

Pure flavorings and natural ingredients, rather than artificial flavoring, produce the best-quality chocolate candy. Chemical preservatives also affect the flavor and quality of the finished product. Top-notch chocolate products use the simplest, purest ingredients so the true flavor shines through.

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Cocoa Percentages – What’s in a Number?

As if the type and quality of ingredients that go into the chocolate aren’t enough to digest, cocoa percentages also come into the mix to affect the flavor of chocolate. This is especially true for dark chocolate.

The cocoa percentage in chocolate measures the total amount of cocoa between the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Don’t let the cocoa percentage fool you. A high number in the cocoa percentage column doesn’t automatically earn the chocolate a gold star for quality.

That’s because cocoa percentage itself doesn’t dictate quality. Two chocolate bars that are both 60 percent cocoa may have completely different quality levels. Likewise, you may have a 70 percent cocoa bar that is lower quality than a 50 percent cocoa bar based on the ingredients used and the production process.

The cocoa percentage of a particular chocolate does affect the taste, though. As the cocoa percentage increases, the chocolate flavor intensity and darkness also increase, while the sweetness decreases due to lower amounts of sugar added to the chocolate. Quality dark chocolate generally has a minimum of 60 percent cocoa. Chocolate with 80 percent cocoa has a bitter taste and is often better for baking than for eating plain.

Chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage also has more flavonoids, which add to the pigment and offer potential health perks. Dark chocolate may offer the following health benefits:

  • Potentially lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases bad, or LDL, cholesterol levels
  • Lowers risk of blood clots
  • Increases blood flow throughout the body, including in arteries and in the heart
  • Boosts mood thanks to increased serotonin and endorphin levels
  • Supplies certain minerals such as magnesium and potassium that are vital to the body’s functioning

Making pure Chocolate is an art, and the Team of Chocolats Caractère are Master in it. If you need to find yourself in a tranquil mood with delicious Chocolates, try our Goodies.

Seeing the Difference 

You may not know all the details of the chocolate manufacturing process, but you can assess its quality even after it’s already been made. You don’t even have to touch or taste chocolate to do an initial assessment of its quality. The physical appearance can reveal some information about the chocolate candy.

Good chocolate should appear glossy with no blemishes or bubbles. Gray areas, cloudy spots or swirls of discoloration tell a story of the chocolate’s past – and it could affect the consumer’s perspective of its quality.

Chocolate bloom appears as white or gray spots on the chocolate’s surface. The fat – cocoa butter in real chocolate – makes its way to the surface of the chocolate and crystallizes there. This often happens if the chocolate melts after production and hardens again. Chocolate with liquid fillings, such as caramel, may be more susceptible to chocolate bloom.

While not necessarily harmful to the chocolate’s quality, bloom can indicate improper handling or exposure to extreme temperatures. Even if the bloom doesn’t indicate spoilage, customer complaints often stem from the discoloration, so it pays to manage the chocolate manufacturing and storage process to reduce the potential for chocolate bloom.

The Sniff Test

Your nose may not seem like a highly sophisticated analysis tool, but it can offer clues on the quality of chocolate. High-quality chocolate should smell strongly of chocolate. Other smells, such as a frozen or spicy scent, could indicate improper storage.

The chocolate could have been frozen for an extended period of time or stored near other food items with a strong scent. Chocolate soaks up scents from other items, potentially lowering the quality.

To test the scent, touch the chocolate gently to release the aroma. Check for a silky and not a sticky texture while you’re at it. A quality product smells of rich chocolate and not of spices, vanilla or other scents. The stronger the rich scent of chocolate, the greater the likelihood that you are about to enjoy a piece of high-quality chocolate.

Listen for Quality

Your chocolate won’t talk to you, but it will make sounds that give you clues about its quality. In particular, the sound of chocolate as you break it is an indicator of quality. Good chocolate has a clean, crisp, sharp snap when broken. Milk and white chocolate both tend to bend because they have more sugar and milk than dark chocolate.

Lower-quality dark chocolate also bends instead of snapping cleanly, has a dull sound when broken or simply crumbles when you try to break it.

Taste Test

It’s finally time to engage your taste buds to evaluate the quality of the chocolate. Taste is one of the most obvious tests of quality and the one by which most people judge their chocolate candy.

The flavor is determined by the quality of the cocoa beans and the manufacturing process. Even the skills of the chocolate manufacturer can affect the outcome in the flavor department, but the taste is more than just the flavor of the candy.

The texture and how quickly the chocolate melts also go into the quality factor of the chocolate.


High-quality chocolate made with real cocoa butter feels smooth and velvety in your mouth. Also known as mouth-feel, high-quality chocolate has a distinct texture that is difficult to describe but easily recognizable when you feel it in your own mouth. A gritty or waxy texture often means the chocolate is of lower quality. Since cocoa butter melts at or just below body temperature, quality chocolate melts quickly in the mouth or in the palm of your hand.

When tasting chocolate, let a small piece melt on your tongue to experience the full depth of the flavor. Note the texture and how the chocolate feels as it melts in your mouth. The taste of quality chocolate won’t leave your mouth quickly. Instead, the flavor should linger for several minutes after you finish the piece of chocolate.

Choose your Manufacturer – Chocolats Caractère

With the average European consuming 5,0 kilograms per year, chocolate manufacturing is a big business. 

When choosing a Company for Chocolate Products, ask yourself these questions to find a good match:

  • Quality of ingredients: Does the manufacturer use cocoa butter instead of vegetable oil? Are the extra ingredients used to make the chocolate high quality? Can the manufacturer use organic or specialty ingredients?
  • Facilities: What type of equipment does the manufacturer use? Does the company offer state-of-the-art equipment and manufacturing facilities?
  • Manufacturing experience: How long has the company been in the contract chocolate manufacturing business? What is the company’s track record? How much contract manufacturing does the company do?
  • Innovative ideas: Does the manufacturer stay on the cutting edge of chocolate production? Is the manufacturer willing to work with your company to customize the products and meet your exacting standards in order to create the highest quality chocolate candies? Will the company help you come up with innovative new products for your line?
  • Total package: Can the manufacturer also provide you with custom packaging that makes your chocolate candy products jump off the shelves? Does the packaging take into consideration both preserving the quality of the chocolate and creating an attractive presentation that appeals to customers?


Our Quality is Genius

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