From Bean-To-Bar & Beyond: 8. What’s New in Chocolate?: Unusual Cocoa Beans!

To wrap up my miniseries about what’s new in bean-to-bar craft chocolate, here’s some news about chocolate being made with very unusual cocoa beans. In fact, one of these chocolates is made from beans that aren’t cocoa at all!

The company Demarquette Fine Chocolates are making these unusual chocolates. They spoke about them when I visited their Chocolate Curiosities Masterclass at Abergavenny Food Festival last year. And as always, I make clear where any views I reproduce here are what the company told us, and are not my own.

Kew Gardens Cupuaçu. Unusual cocoa beans
Theobroma Grandiflorum, more commonly know as Cupuaçu – a relative of the cocoa plant. Photo credit: Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Chocolate, but not made from cocoa beans! – Theobroma  Grandiflorum

Demarquette claim to be ‘one of the first UK pioneers’ to make chocolate that technically isn’t chocolate! Their Cupuaçu 80% Brazil bar is made from very unusual cocoa beans. In fact, the beans aren’t technically cocoa at all, but are instead from the plant Theobroma Grandiflorum.

Theobroma Grandiflorum is a genetic relative of the cocoa plant – cocoa’s own official designation being Theobroma Cacao. And like cocoa then, Theobroma Grandiflorum also has an every day name by which it’s more commonly known – which is Cupuaçu (coo-poo-asoo).

Cupuaçu is a tree fruit whose origins date back centuries. And today it’s still found wild in the eastern sub region of the Brazilian Amazon. Apparently its unique flavour profile has a core similar to chocolate, but also with notes of coconut and tropical fruit.

DemarquetteFine Chocolate's Cupuaçu 80% Special edition Theobroma Grandiflorum Brazil bar. Unusual cocoa beans
Demarquette’s Cupuaçu 80% Special edition Theobroma Grandiflorum Brazil bar. Photo credit: Demarquette Fine Chocolates

Demarquette said that the AMMA company in Brazil harvest cupuaçu on their behalf. To do so, individuals have to hike several kilometres into dense Amazonian rainforest. There, one person must hand-harvest as much as they can carry back themselves.

Because harvesting has to happen in this very labour-intensive and small-yield way, that obviously leads to only very small batches of cupuaçu chocolate being produced.

So while, at the time of writing, I was very disappointed that the 80% Cupuaçu bar was sold out on Demarquette’s website, I wasn’t at all surprised. I’ve put my name on their email list to be notified when it’s back in stock and I look forward to trying it then. In the meantime, Demarquette did still have in stock their 85% Grandiflorum Truffles made with cupuaçu. So you may wish to give those a try instead.

Unusual cocoa beans
Demarquette 85% Grandiflorum Truffles. Photo Credit: Demarquette Fine Chocolates

Dark chocolate that doesn’t taste dark – naturally!

I’m a regular consumer of high cocoa dark craft chocolate. From time-to-time, then, it’s not so uncommon for me to buy a bar – say, at very high 85% cocoa – which tastes much smoother and less bitter than I expected.

I’d often wondered why this was so. And when recently I visited the Mayhawk Chocolate factory to learn how craft chocolate is made, I finally found out the answer. They told me that it’s because some chocolate makers purposely add extra cocoa butter to chocolate to smooth out its flavours.

But Demarquette told us at their Chocolate Curiosities masterclass that they’ve also been cultivating some other unusual cocoa beans. These ones are a genetic variant of a traditional cocoa bean, and they produce dark chocolate that naturally tastes milder.

These beans from the Catongo cocoa strain grow in the Brazilian Amazon. Having a whitish colour means they look like the finest delicate Criollo (Porcelana) cocoa beans. But genetically they’re actually a variant of the Forestero cocoa bean, which usually has a much more robust full-on chocolate taste.

The Catongo bean’s key determining feature is its very high cocoa butter content. So in their 75% Dark Catongo bar, Demarquette said they don’t need to add any extra cocoa butter to smooth out the flavours. And that’s because nature’s already done it for us.

Demarquette's special edition single variety 75% Catongo bar. Unusual cocoa beans
Demarquette’s special edition single variety 75% Catongo bar. Photo credit: Demarquette Fine Chocolates

And that’s all the new chocolate news for now!

This post on unusual cocoa beans brings to an end my mini-series on what’s new in chocolate. It will also be the last From Bean-to-Bar & Beyond post about chocolate for a while. But that will continue as an occasional series, whenever I’ve got something chocolatey to say.

Look forward to a complete change with some very visual blogging about some completely different topics in my next few posts. And in the meantime, if you’ve tried any of the new types of chocolate I’ve mentioned in this series, then I’d love you to share what you thought in the comments!


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