Single Origin VS Single Estate: which is best?
Have you ever tasted a Single Origin Chocolate? If not, it is normal, because today most chocolate companies are using blends – cocoa beans coming from different regions of the world - to standardize the taste and control the final result of their creations. However, if you prefer enjoying chocolate as you enjoy a glass of wine, identifying the different aromas and flavors, Single Origin or Single Estate chocolate are made for you. But what are they exactly? Which is best? Cluizel’s team will try to answer these questions in the following article.
I – What is Single Origin chocolate?
The term single-origin chocolate seems to be new, used at the beginning of the 20th century, but historically, farmers already categorized cocoa by location. In The New Taste of Chocolate (2000), Maricel Presilla says that the Aztecs “arranged their stores of cacao by place of origin, as we might distinguish between Blue Point and Cotuit oysters.” In the late 1700s, Peruvians wanted to create official fixed prices for cacao “according to quality and place of origin.”
A Single Origin Chocolate is made with cocoa beans coming from one single region or country. Like wine, coffee, or tobacco, cocoa’s taste is determined by the environment in which the cocoa tree grows. The soil, the landscape, the humidity, and the heat are different actors which give the cocoa its unicity and identity. This environment is called a “terroir”. Thus, cocoa from Ecuador would have the flavor profile of lilac, jasmine, orange blossom, blackberries, with pecan overtones. Cocoa from Ghana would have warm spices, coffee, and nut flavors.
Illustration by Amber Day
II – What is Single Estate Chocolate?
A Single Estate Chocolate is even rarer because its cocoa comes from one single cocoa farm. Chocolates with this designation are mostly produced by “bean-to-bar" chocolate makers, who can control the whole manufacturing process, from fermentation to the final product. These chocolate makers, like Cluizel, want to highlight the richness and the unicity of a cocoa farm, by keeping and sublimating the aromas and the characteristics of its cocoa, without diminishing them. To do so, they meet regularly with the farmers, maintaining a very close relationship to get the best cocoa beans and to create the best chocolate possible. This also allows Cacaoféviers like Cluizel to learn more about farmers’ culture and traditions.
In 2001, the Cluizel family teamed up with the Rizek family in the Dominican Republic, providing us with organic fine cocoa. Thanks to this partnership, we launched the “Los Anconès” Single Estate chocolate bar. Year after year, we team up with the best cocoa farmers in the world. In 2018, we chose the Mokaya cocoa farm, in Mexico, run by José Adrian Carballero.
In September 2021, after changing our recipes by upgrading our cocoa content, we won 2 gold medals at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London.
III – Why does Cluizel choose to create Single Estate chocolate bars?
Being a Bean to Bar chocolate maker allows us to team up with the best cocoa farmers in the world. And create a very close and unique relationship with them. We visit them regularly, we trust each other, and we know everything about them: who the farmers are, what their culture and their traditions are the characteristics of their cocoa, and all their “terroir” (soil, humidity, know-how, …).
A cocoa farmer from the Riachuelo cocoa farm, in Brazil
For us, they select their best cocoa beans, they calibrate them, and they ferment and dry them according to our standards.
We want to sublime with our chocolates all the flavors and the aromas of the cocoa of our partners. In each bar, you can find their passion, their values, their culture, and their identity. To honor them, each bar bears the name of the farm where its cocoa comes from.
In September 2021, 4 of our Single Estate chocolate bars were rewarded at the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards in London, and won 4 “Great Taste Awards”, it was also for them, because they deserve it as much as we do.
The Academy of Chocolate Awards, in 2021
Finally, Single Estate or Single Origin chocolate are often a pledge of quality, and none is better than the other. Indeed, what makes a good chocolate is the quality of the cocoa beans, but also the know-how of the famers, and of the chocolate makers. Moreover, saying that a Single Estate is exceptional does not mean that blends are bad. On the contrary! Even excellent chocolate makers use blends to create their own recipe, and, like perfumers, they meticulously choose their cocoa and their ingredients, for the perfect result...