I was at the Chocolate Tasting event last week at the Shalford Mill. Jo of Koko Chocolate was taking about how their chocolate is “Raise Trade” sourced, which is different than Fair Trade sourced. It got me curious about the different types of chocolate. I was wondering if they have anything to do with the method of sourcing but I’m not sure that is the case. At any rate I did dig up some interesting facts about chocolate and what distinguishes good, better and best. There are three types of cocoa bean used today to make chocolate: Crillo, Forastero and Trinitario. Trinitario is a hybrid between the Criollo and Forastero trees and originated in Trinidad. Criollo (which is now rare) and Trinitario are often referred to as higher quality more flavourful cocoa beans. Forastero is the ordinary bean for mass production. Over 90% percent of the world’s cocoa is bulk produced mainly from the Forastero bean. The remainder is from Trinitario and Criollo. This seems rather equivalent to tasting grapes from different wine regions or cheese from cows grazing on different pastures. The flavours of good chocolate are so distinct. Caffeine is also present in chocolate. I feel very affected by the caffeine. Apparently you would have to eat a couple bars of very dark chocolate to get any amount near the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Nonetheless it keeps me awake! There is also theobromine the substance which gives chocolate its bitterness. It is a stimulant which is not as strong as caffeine. Interestingly, anandamide is also present; it is a cannabinoid which it targets the same regions of the brain as cannabis. The quantities of it are very small so it does not have a noticeable effect. Health wise, the flavonoids like epicatechin in chocolate apparently reduce the risk of heart disease by acting as anti-oxidants. Caveat, it must be dark chocolate with > 70% cocoa content for the flavonoids to be sufficient to have beneficial effects. There is also some evidence that flavonoids may reduce the risk of cancer. Another study showed that it could also reduce blood pressure if you ate 100g / day. Well I’d never sleep then. Read more here http://www.chocolate-revolution.com/health.php