Unfortunately, there have been a number of reports of chocolate companies releasing “single origin” or “varietal” bars that are in fact made from blends of beans of various origins. This is often explained away by saying that the blend better represents the cocoa from a region a specific variety. However, price is often the true driver for adulterating high-grade beans with beans of a lower price point or quality.
At Amano Artisan Chocolate we do believe that chocolate made from blended beans has its place. There are numerous occasions where a chocolate made from cocoa beans from various regions is better than that made from the same regions individually. Furthermore, less expensive beans are not always lower in quality. It all depends on what is needed to create a flavorful chocolate with well a well-rounded flavor profile. In every case flavor, not price, should be the determining factor.
None of this would be a problem if chocolate makers were up front in communicating their policies around the use of the terms “single origin” and “varietal”. Sadly, this is not always the case. It is important for the consumer to know what they are purchasing and not be misled by labeling. Consumers feel betrayed when they believe they have purchased one thing only to discover later that they actually purchased something else.
Amano Artisan Chocolate is committed to producing the highest quality chocolate and to integrity in all our labeling and marketing practices. As such, we oppose the labeling of blended chocolate as single origin or varietal. We also oppose labeling blended chocolate as representing a particular region or cocoa variety without clearly informing the consumer that it is a blend both on the manufacturer’s purchasing page as well as on the bar itself. The following paragraphs outline our policies regarding single origin chocolate in greater detail.
Note that in all cases, a single origin or single variety bar may contain trace amounts of other beans as an unavoidable consequence of the manufacturing process, as discussed below.
Cross Contamination: Since single origin chocolate may be contaminated during manufacturing by chocolate left in the machinery from previous runs, we commit to minimize cross contamination by cleaning our machinery between runs of chocolate made from beans from different origins and by designing our factory in a way that minimizes pipes and other processing machinery that can trap chocolate.
Cocoa Butter: Because cocoa butter is not readily available from particular origins and or cocoa plantations, we may have to use cocoa butter from origins other than the beans. In such cases we will only use cocoa butter where the cocoa flavor has been removed (deodorized cocoa butter) so as not to influence the flavor profile of the finished chocolate.
With some manufacturers not clearly outlining their policies in regards to single origin or varietal chocolates, it has created a lot of confusion in the marketplace. I hope that this helps clear up some of that confusion and let the consumer know where we stand as a company.
If you have any questions about our use of the terms “single origin”, “varietal”, or similar terms, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to answer them as best we can.
Founder, Amano Artisan Chocolate