Coffee has undergone quite a bit of innovation in the last decade from free trade to sourcing. Now it looks like its delectably indulgent neighbor,chocolate, is poised to undergo some evolutions of its own.
It seems that we should now think of chocolate like a fine wine. Maricel E. Presilla, in her book "The New Taste of Chocolate," speaks about chocolate as one broad category — "exclusive-derivation" chocolate. Some chocolatiers use simpler phrases like single origin, single bean or varietal. "Others have gotten more extreme, naming bars after one of the three main varieties of cacao, like the rare criollo, and labeling chocolate made from beans grown on one farm "plantation" or "estate" chocolate." They even refer to harvests that are particularly tasty as "grand cru," a term lifted from winemakers. Currently chocolate is classified based on taste such as semi-sweet, dark, etc or by type white chocolate, mint etc. Michel Cluizel has a shop here in new york where one can sample the sharp biting and acidic finish of chocolate from the African island of São Tomé! The Times even discussed how growing cacao trees in the soil of a former mango grove might result in chocolate with a faint flash of the fruit.
So now companies are producing bars that are designated both organic and single-origin chocolate. Much of this is marketingspeak, as "many factors affect a piece of chocolate: not only where the beans were grown, but the skill of whoever dried, fermented and roasted them, the amount of cocoa butter that was mixed back into the crushed beans, the two- or three-day process of mixing, heating and cooling (called conching and tempering), and the touch of the chocolatier."
So it seems that sourcing has come to the wonderful world of chocolate and soon that nestle bar may seem like the mcdonalds of chocolate to the masses. While much of it is just marketing, eating chocolate now by country makes it a little easier to figure out the environmental and labor practices behind each bar. Traveling and politics through a chocolate bar is a wonderful. Also as environmental concerns become more prevalent, is this is a sign of a re-emerging power to the farmer who grows the crops that feed us?
Vice via NY Times