Did you know, in it's raw state, the cocoa bean has little to no flavour?
In fact, in my experience of eating raw cocoa beans, they taste like a bland lychee.
Whilst flavour beans - the best of the best - have an inherent flavour profile, this requires exceptional craft (one could argue art) to exploit this potential and develop the raw cocoa bean into the beautiful chocolate we deal in. Which is why careful and talented processing is needed.
The first stage of imparting flavour comes from the fermentation process, where beans are scooped from the cocoa pod, with the sweet white pulp that surrounds them, and left for several days in the sun until the pulp turns to mucilage and the desired level of fermentation is reached. (I know, it doesn't exactly sound charming, but without this messy step, we don't have choc
The other significant stage of imparting flavour comes from roasting and just like coffee, each cocoa bean has a very particular temperature and length of time that will develop it's full flavour potential. This is one of the reasons mass market chocolate cannot produce an exceptional chocolate. I
t is unlikely they start with a quality/flavour bean, and mass production does not allow for the nuance in roasting that artisan producers use to develop flavour.
There are other stages that contribute to flavour including conching and tempering, but the take-away from this 'did you know' is the next time you eat an exceptional chocolate and enjoy that moment of delight - this doesn't happen by chance. It is the product of a rare flavour bean coupled with years of experience, passion and art from the chocolate maker - and it's why not all chocolate is created equal.