Fine or flavor. It sounds like a choice, right? When talking about cocoa–the bean from which chocolate is produced–the words fine or flavor (in Spanish it is termed “fino o de aroma”) indicate a very distinct choice. But the choice is not as implied – between fine chocolate and flavor chocolate. In reality, the two are complements and your choice is really between chocolate that is fine and flavorful or chocolate that is a bit more ordinary.
“Cacao” is the Spanish word for cocoa (just switch the letters o for a, and vice versa). Cocoa beans or cacao beans are the same thing–the raw material for making chocolate. In English the word cocoa traditionally refers to the chocolate drink made with chocolate powder–one of the final products made from the cacao bean. READ MORE
The old history of chocolate is the story of how people forgot where it came from. The recent history is about re-discovering its origins.
What you should know if you visit Ecuador is that, although this country does not produce an especially large amount of cocoa, it does produce the greatest volume of fine or flavor beans in the world.
The term fine or flavor is used by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and refers to cocoa beans which have a distinctive flavor, distinguishing them from “bulk” beans. Bulk beans are cocoa varieties that have a chocolate flavor, but lack certain properties or tasting “notes” found in flavor beans, which give a floral and fruity aftertaste.
Flavor beans actually represent a very small percentage of world cocoa production – only five percent. But the majority of those flavor beans – 60 to 70 percent – are grown in Ecuador. In contrast, Ivory Coast grows ten times more cocoa than Ecuador, but none of it is fine or flavor.
Cocoa is currently classified under ten categories or clusters, one of which is the fine or flavor cocoa of Ecuador known as “nacional” or national cocoa. READ MORE