How many aromas can be detected in cocoa?

It may be surprising to you that an aroma as lovely as that of chocolate is actually made up of many different aromas which, detected individually, can be very unpleasant!

Research presented at the American Chemical Society congress has mapped the composition of the essence of cocoa beans, discovering that it is generated by a surprising blend of scents. The olfactory mix that generates the perception of chocolate in our brain is given by a set of over 600 distinct smells, including cooked cabbage, french fries, cucumbers and human sweat!

In reality, many of these aromas are present in very low concentrations and are difficult to recognise individually even by the most experienced "noses", but they contribute to the composition of the overall bouquet. When tasting a high quality dark chocolate bar, tasters are able to identify the presence of macro categories of aromas such as milk, caramel, toasted, fruit, flowers, citrus, dried fruit, spicy, herbaceous, undergrowth, and only in some cases, aromas such as specific fruits, flowers, or others.

Certainly, in comparison, low quality chocolates have relatively few aromas.

To learn more about American Chemical Society research click here.


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