Monday, 26 June 2017

Lessons on eating chocolate

Most of us know how to eat chocolate, but last week a lucky group of ACIAR project people were taught how to taste chocolate like the experts do. They worked hard and tasted a dozen offerings from several brands
Tasting time at TADEP

The chocolate tasting took place in Cairns at the annual meeting of TADEP - ACIAR’s Transformative Agriculture and Enterprise Development program, which is co-funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Five of our projects in Papua New Guinea make up the TADEP program, two of which deal with cocoa.

The 12 chocolates for the tasting were assembled by Grant Vinning from ACIAR’s Bougainville Cocoa project. He sourced chocolate made from local Papua New Guinea cocoa beans, along with chocolate made from cocoa beans grown in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. There was even some chocolate made in Australia from semi-processed chocolate (couverture).  Participants tasted all varieties, and also judged the packaging and the name of each chocolate.  

Grant gave instructions on how to eat chocolate for a tasting - basically, chew it, and keep on chewing it until it dissolves in your mouth.  The chocolate was scored on four taste criteria: flavour, smoothness, persistence, and sharpness.  
Careful deliberations on the chocolate qualities

Taste is often seen as being purely subjective or personal.  Yet this exercise showed that taste can be broken down into a series of objective criteria.  The results of our survey of 12 chocolates showed that when using criteria such as ‘sharpness’ and ‘persistence’, it is possible to make consistent assessments.  

On the day there was agreement that the Nunu Black Opal 80% chocolate made by Jasper + Myrtle of Canberra was outstanding. This chocolate is made from beans grown by Martin and Kathleen Linnix of Bougainville.  And it seems the professional tasters agree: this same chocolate won a gold medal last week at the Academy of Chocolate world championships in London.  Jasper + Myrtle first connected with their Bougainville bean growers at the Bougainville Chocolate Festival.
Using beans from a single grower creates a unique chocolate
Professor David Guest, leader of the ACIAR Bougainville Cocoa Project, said that the judges for the chocolate competition at this year’s Chocolate Festival will be using a series of objective criteria to establish the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winners.  He noted that four of last year’s Gold Medal winners have gone on to do business with chocolate makers in Australia. The next Bougainville Chocolate Festival will be held in September 2017.

Find out more:

ACIAR project - Developing the cocoa value chain in Bougainville
Academy of Chocolate world championships in London

Fact sheet
Chocolate launch press release
ACIAR blog March 2017

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