Afrikoa 55 percent semi-sweet dark chocolate. Picture from Afrikoa Twitter.

Many of us love chocolate, but have you ever wondered how the professionals make sure that our delicious treats are up to scratch?

If you are one of the people dedicated to teaching your taste buds to catch chocolate’s every complexity, we have spoken with award-winning chocolate maker, Antonino Allegra of Afrikoa Chocolate to share with us tips on how to taste chocolate like a master chocolatier.

Allegro said chocolate can be a lot like wine, depending on the area in which the cocoa beans grow, how long they are fermented and how long the cocoa beans have been used and that there is no right or wrong way to taste chocolate.

“As a chocolate-maker my goal is simply to make something that you enjoy eating! But if you are as much of a chocolate nerd as I am, then going through a professional tasting process can be quite fun - especially if you do it with a group of friends as an after-dinner conversation-holder. Although it is good to know that tasting chocolate before breakfast is technically the right way to go - and a good excuse, if you ask me,” he said.

Below are Allegra’s tips. 

  • Get a few bars of chocolate and try and buy different cocoa percentages - eg. tasting our AFRIKOA 37% milk chocolate, 55% semi sweet, 70% and 80% dark chocolates. Although they’re all made from the same Tanzanian cocoa beans they each give you a completely different experience.
  • Arrange them from the most mellow to the strongest (just like you would taste white wine before red wine). So start with the lowest cocoa percentage and work your way to the highest. If you want to be really serious, you can remove the wrappers so you’re not swayed by the labels. You’ll also need some room temperature water in between each tasting too to refresh your palate.
  • Resist the urge to eat it straight away! Smell it first. Then take one or two small bites and spread the chocolate around on your tongue. Don’t chew it immediately, but notice how it melts on your tongue and the flavours it reveals. Do you taste fresh or dried fruit? Nutty flavours, caramel, floral or earthy, a hint of spice, maybe some smoke? No matter what you taste, there is no wrong answer.
  • Once you’ve tasted them all, go back and taste the chocolates again in a random order. This can help reveal flavours or sweetness you didn’t notice before.