Chocolate can be made from many different types of cacao, each variety imparting its own unique flavour characteristics. Read on, as Lindt Maître Chocolatier Ann Czaja takes us on a taste tour of three top cacao-growing regions.
But first, terroir
The wine term, terroir, also holds true for cacao: “It’s about the soil in a region, but also climate, weather, aspect and anything else that could possibly differentiate one piece of land from another,” she explains. All these factors give the beans their specificity of place and unique flavour profile.
Cacao from Ecuador
Cacao from Central American countries like Ecuador is among the oldest in the world. In fact, Lindt has devoted an entire bar to showcasing its unique flavours. “The majority of beans grown here are often a mix of Criollo and Nacional varieties. Chocolate made from these beans exhibits notes and aromas of red berries, flowers and fresh tropical fruits,” says Ann. Although the Criollo beans grown in Ecuador only make up a small portion of the world’s cacao, they are prized for being highly aromatic and flavourful.
Tasting notes: Lindt Excellence Ecuador 75% Cacao Dark Chocolate features notes of espresso and burnt sugar as it’s crafted from Arriba cacao, which is harvested from coastal areas in the Ecuadorian lowlands.
Cacao from Madagascar
Beans from Madagascar are primarily a mix of Criollo, Trinitario, Amelonado and Sambirano varieties. “Chocolate made from Madagascan beans displays notes and aromas of fresh stone fruits, red cherries and citrus. The beans also have characteristically low acidity,” says Ann.
Tasting notes: Lindt Excellence Madagascar 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate is made from Sambirano cacao grown on the northwestern part of the island. It’s soft and balanced on the palate, with a hint of vanilla.
Cacao from Ghana
Ghanaian cacao are found in a variety of Lindt bars. “They’re usually bold and full-bodied, which makes them ideal for blending. Most Lindt Excellence bars are made from unique blends of beans from different origins,” explains Ann.
Tasting notes: On their own, Ghanian beans showcase rich brown notes like tobacco, leather and wood, flavours which are noticeable in many of Lindt’s high-percentage cacao bars.