TERROIR, VARIETY & FLAVOR
As with wine, where and how cocoa is grown—its terroir, or taste of place—can impart layers of flavor to chocolate. The variety of plant, or cultivar, itself also impacts flavor. Ecuador, for example, is known for cocoa with floral and nutty notes, while beans from Venezuela are prized for delicate flavors of caramel and honey. And a good portion of craft chocolate made from Madagascan beans comes from a plantation known for cocoa with a sweettartness akin to green apples.
The majority of cocoa beans, however, are sold almost interchangeably—where beans from Ghana are considered equivalent to those from, say, Indonesia—and bred for yield and diseaseresistance, not diversity of flavor. They’re made into chocolate with strict recipes that require consistency. For good reason: we want to recognize the taste of our Ghirardelli or Hershey’s bar every time we reach for it. But if it’s terroir you’re after, go craft.