CWG Bean To Bar Compass


Types Of Chocolate


Chocolate began as a drink, and for over the first 5000 years of its existence, it remained a drink. The people of South America and Mesoamerica would roast cacao beans, grind them up into a paste, and turn them into a frothy water based drink.

It wasn’t until 1847 in Bristol, England, that chocolate was formed into a bar, and became a food as well as a drink.

Today, we have many types of chocolate drinks and bars, and it can be daunting to think about how many types there are. However, all types of chocolate can fall into one of three categories: Whole Nib, Flavoured Whole Nib, and Cocoa Butter Based.

+ A Breif History

3500 BC

For thousands of years, chocolate was a drink. We have evidence from as early as 3,500 BC of pottery in Southern Ecuador containing traces of the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine found in chocolate and no other plants endemic to this region.

16th Century

When the Spanish first encountered the Maya and the Aztecs in the 16Th C, they were introduced to chocolate in the form of a drink. There is evidence of Mesoamericans using chocolate as an ingredient in gruels and tamales, but no substantial evidence that they ate it as a solid.

When chocolate entered Europe in the 16th Century it was also a drink and, like coffee and tea which entered around the same time, was viewed as a medicine. The Europeans would take their chocolate hot, and some (such as the English) would even boil the chocolate drink as part of the preparation. Since cacao is about 50% fat, much of this fat would separate and float to the surface of the hot water, forming a film of fat on the top of the drink. Chocolate makers would have to skim off this fat, which was very labour intensive.

1828: Cocoa Powder & Cocoa Butter Invented

Then in 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten in Holland invented a cocoa press, which squeezed much of this fat out from the seed. The result was a container of the fat (cocoa butter), and a cocoa press cake, which was everything left over, including some fat. This press cake was pulvarized into cocoa powder. This powder was much easier to mix with hot water. One problem, they had a waste product with no real use for it: cocoa butter.

1847: The Chocolate Bar Is Invented

About 20 years later in 1847, Fry & Sons in Bristol, England combined the left over cocoa butter with the cocoa powder, and let it set into a solid bar. They invented the worlds first eating chocolate. Eventually they ground up the whole nib and sugar into chocolate and formed it into bars.



Here is a flow chart of the main types of chocolate which exist today. The orange boxes represent eating chocolate, and the light blue boxes represent drinking chocolate. This phylogeny was designed and created by Geoseph Domenichiello, 2017.

Here is a flow chart of the main types of chocolate which exist today. The orange boxes represent eating chocolate, and the light blue boxes represent drinking chocolate. This phylogeny was designed and created by Geoseph Domenichiello, 2017.

Drinking Chocolates

  1. Traditional Drinking Chocolate

Ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Water, Other flavour Ingredients

2. Cocoa Powder Drinking Chocolate

Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Milk (Dairy or Non-Dairy Milk)

Eating Chocolates

3. Whole Nib Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Ingredients: Cocoa bean + Sugar

Sugar doesn’t always have to be included, such as 100% dark chocolate bars, which is cocoa nibs roasted, ground, and refined into chocolate.

4. Whole Nib Flavoured Chocolate

Milk chocolate, Gianduja, Almond Bar, Earl Grey Tea Bar

Ingredients: Cocoa Bean + Sugar + Flavour Ingredient

5. Cocoa Butter Based Chocolate

White Chocolate, Black Sesame Bar, Fruit Bar, Nut Bar

Ingredients: Cocoa Butter + Sugar + Flavour Ingredient


How we can classify chocolate today

1. Traditional Drinking Chocolate


This is how the South Americans and Mesoamericans were consuming chocolate, as well as Europeans before 1828. For thousands of years chocolate was taken as a water based drink, with a plethora of ingredients mixed in depending on who was making it. Someone would roast and then grind the cacao beans into a paste. This paste would be mixed with water and frothed up. It was used as an ingredient in desserts and foods as well, but generally not eaten as a solid.

This all changed in 1828 when Van Houten invented the cocoa press. The result was cocoa powder and cocoa butter, and forever changed how we consumed and viewed chocolate.

There are some places in the world which continue a variation of this traditional chocolate making. In Mexico, the Philippines, and parts of South America, many still produce their own chocoalte with cacao they grow, ferment, roast, and grind up into "tablea" or little "pucks" which are then dissolved into a hot chocolate drink. This drink is often warm milk or water, and other flavourings such as corn, sapote, anatto, and chili are not commonly used anymore.

Today, there are some bean to bar makers using modern technology to roast and grind cacao and other ingrdients together and sell this chocolate to be used for drinking.


2. Cocoa Powder Drinking Chocolate

Cacao Powder, Water/Milk, Sugar


Cocoa powder has been used to make drinking chocolate since the invention of the cocoa press in 1828 (depicted here). Decreasing the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate allowed for it to be more easily mixed into water or milk. As well, most cocoa powder is alkalized (another treatment to cocoa invented by the Dutch) which also makes it more miscible in water, as well as mellows the flavour and darkens the colour.

Today, we also used it as a flavouring in desserts such as cakes, creams, and cookies. Most "chocolate" flavoured processed foods use cocoa powder, not chocolate, for its flavour. Cocoa powder is much cheaper than chocolate and sometimes easeir to mix in due to its low fat content.

Most hot chocolate mixes and mocha syrups used in most coffee shops today (yes, even high end shops) use cocoa powder, not chocolate.


3. Whole Nib Chocolate, AKA Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate (Cacao Beans, Sugar)


This is chocolate which was invented by Fry & Sons in 1847. Initallly they combined the left over cocoa butter with cocoa powder and allowed it to solidify into a solid bar. Eventually they would ground up the whole nibs (kernel) with sugar to make the worlds first eating chocolate bar.

Dark chocolate is just this, ground up cocoa nibs and sugar, and that's it. Some makers may add extra cocoa butter, maybe lecithin, but whole nib chocolate is dark chocolate. From today's perspective dark chocolate is essentially chocolate in its purest form.

Now, the flavour of this dark chocoalte comes from the cacao seeds (their genetics) and how they are processed (fermented, roasted, and refined). The aromas such as "cherry", "hazelnut", or "toast" comes from the cacao itself, not by having those ingredients added to it. When other flavouring ingredients are added, this becomes "Flavoured Whole Nib Chocolate."

That said, most commercial and some bean to bar makers do add vanilla to their chocolate. Within the bean to bar world, this is scene as a way to improve the flavour of otherwise less than favorable cacao. This isn't always the case, but bean to bar makers who use expensive high quality cacao likely don't want to mask its flavour. Its like adding flavourings to your fine wines.


4. Flavoured Whole Nib Chocolate

This is chocolate made from using the whole nib, a flavouring ingredient, and often some sugar.
Although Mesoamericans were adding all sorts of flavourings to their chocolate, this was in the drinking form, not eating form. As well, even when ingredients were added to traditional drinking chocolate, they were often added after the chocolate was mixed with the water and a foam created. They were not mixed and ground up all together with the cacao at once.

The earliest evidence of flavoured eating chocolate actually existed before the most common flavoured chocolate, milk chocolate. The Italian chocolate maker Caffarel invented Gianduja in 1865 when he mixed hazelnuts, cacao, and sugar into a paste and formed little boat shaped chocolates.

In 1979, Swiss chocolate maker Daniel Peters and Swiss chemist Henri Nestle joined forces to create the worlds first milk chocolate bar. Nestle invented powedered milk, which was added to the fat based chocolate to form a very creamy delicious milk chocolate the Swiss and the world grew to love.

Since then, we see an array of flavoured chocolates, such as replacing hazelnuts with cashews or almonds, adding coffee beans, other seeds, and chilli peppers. As long as the ingredient can be dried, it can be added to the melanger to make flavoured eating chocolate.

This is not to be confused with inclusions which are flavourings such as salt, nuts, dried fruits added after the chocolate was been made. Flavoured chocolate here refers to a major flavour ingredient added during the grinding/melanging phase where the cocoa bean and flavour ingrdient and groupd up together into a smooth chocolate.

Some examples include:

Milk Chocolate (Cacao Beans, Milk Powder, Sugar)

Gianduja (Cocoa Beans, Hazelnuts, Sugar)

Tea Bar (Cocoa Beans, Sugar, Tea Leaves

Mocha Bar (Cocoa Beans, Coffee Beans, Sugar)

Vegan Coconut Bar (Cocoa Beans, Coconut Powder, Sugar)


5. Cocoa butter Chocolate

This is chocolate that is made from the cocoa butter only, and does not contain any cocoa solids (the brown classicly cocoa flavoured component).

The first use of cocoa butter to make chocolate was most likley by the Swiss, soon after creating milk chocolate in 1879. They combined cocoa butter with sugar, milk powder, and vanilla to create white chocolate.

Today, just like in flavoured chocolate, any ingredient that can be dried and void of water can be grond up and added to cocoa butter. There are chocolate bars that combine cocoa butter and sugar with almonds, freeze dried fruits, matcha powder, sesame seeds, coffee beans, and the list goes on.

Traditionally speaking, white chocolate was used to define chocolate made with cocoa butter and milk powder. Cocoa butter based chocolates that do not contain milk powder really are not white chocolate, but another cocoa butter chocolate which just replaced the milk powder with something else.

That said, many chocolatiers can still add matcha powder or fruit powders to white chocolate after the white chocolate has already been made. However, this is not the same since the ingredients were not added during the refining/melanging phase. They will never have the same level of homogenous flavour and smoothness as bars where the ingredients and cocoa butter were combined in a referiner/melanger.

Some Examples Include:

White Chocolate (Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Milk Powder)

Fruit Chocolate (Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Dehydrated Fruit Powder)

Nut Chocoalte Bar (Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Nuts)

Matcha Bar (Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Milk Powder, Matcha Powder)