What Means What

Our glossary will be evolving as time goes on. There are many terms and definitions relating to craft chocolate and we’ll be doing our best to compile as many of them as we can.


Acid/Acidic – Many chocolates have an acidic flavor profile to them similar to chocolate. Similar to being tannic but with more sourness. Think of dried cranberries.

Alkalization – See dutch process/dutching

Artisanal – A difficult to define term but, for the most part, refers to chocolate made by hand by a person or persons dedicated to both high quality and personal vision.


Baker’s Chocolate – Contains no sugar and is sold as a solid. Though traditionally used for baking it’s name actually refers to the man who invented it: Dr. James Baker.

Bean – The seed of the cacao plant. The beans are found inside the cocoa pod and must be fermented, dried, roasted, ground and conched to create chocolate.

Bean to Bar – A term that has communicates that the chocolate maker starts from scratch instead of melting commercially made chocolate made by others.

Blend/Blending – Using two or more types of cocoa bean together to make a uniform chocolate.

Bloom – A white coating that appears on chocolate that has been improperly tempered or stored. There are two types of bloom, fat bloom and sugar bloom. Bloomed chocolate can be tempered again or melted down for use in cooking

Body – Refers to the mouthfeel or viscosity of chocolate. Also see thick

Brown belt – See cocoa belt

Brut – This can either refer to chocolate that does not contain any sugar, like Baker’s chocolate, or to the bitterness found within chocolate. Today there are high quality brut chocolates that are a very intense experience!


Cacao Beans – The seeds of the cacao tree, found inside the pod.

Cacao Pod –  The fruit of the cacao tree.

Cake – See press cake

Chocolate Maker – Someone who makes chocolate from bean.

Chocolatier – Someone who uses chocolate to make confections such as truffles and pralines.

Cocoa Belt – The geographical range in which cacao grows around the world, up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Also known as the brown belt.

Cocoa Butter – An edible vegetable fat that is extracted from cocoa beans.

Cocoa Content – This is the % listed on chocolate labels. It represents the amount of ingredients that come from the cocoa bean. This includes cocoa butter, even if it is additionally added. In most cases the higher the percentage the less sugar the chocolate has.

Cocoa Compound – Is a cheap form of chocolate flavored coating created by replacing cocoa butter with cheaper oils. Also called confectionary compound.

Cocoa Liquor – A mixture of cocoa butter and cocoa solids created by grinding cocoa nibs until the naturally occurring cocoa butter liquefies. Sometimes called Cocoa Mass or Chocolate Liquor. There is no actual booze in cocoa liquor.

Cocoa Mass – see cocoa liquor

Cocoa Powder – Is formed when tremendous pressure is used to squeeze the majority of cocoa butter out of cocoa liquor and the resulting cake is ground. May be left natural or dutched with alkali.

Compound – see cocoa compound

Conching – The process of refining chocolate’s texture and flavor with agitation and heat in a machine called a conche. Conching can take several days.

Couverture – Chocolate with high cocoa butter content used by chocolatiers and other culinary professionals.

Craft Chocolate – see artisanal

Criollo – One of the three main bean types commonly known alongside Forastero and Trinitario. Criollo beans have the lowest yield and strains of the bean are highly prized for their flavor and rarity.

Cru – Refers to the location where the beans were grown. Many single origin cocoa varietals are referred to by the name of the location from which they came.


Dark Chocolate – Can come in sweet, semisweet, and bittersweet depending on the ratio of cocoa solids and sugar it contains. There are also different standards for what constitutes dark chocolate in different countries.

Dark Milk Chocolate – A milk chocolate that contains a higher percent of cocoa solids while having less sugar and/or milk solids.

Dutch Process/Dutching – Altering the flavor and color of cocoa by using an alkalizing agent. Invented in the early 19th century by Coenraad van Houten.


Enrobing – Refers to applying a chocolate covering by either dipping or pouring.


Fair Trade – A trading movement working towards better working and trading conditions for producers in developing countries.

Fermentation –  A critical step in the processing of cacao, cacao beans are pulp are piled in boxes or in heaps, covered and left to ferment. This process generates intense heat which helps develop the chocolate flavour through a complex biochemical process.

Flavanol – The antioxidant found in chocolate.

Forastero – One of the three main bean types commonly known alongside Criollo and Trinitario. Strains of Forastero comprise 90% of the worlds chocolate production. Though known as a “bulk” bean Forastero strains have their own characters and are by no means inferior.


Ganache – A mixture of chocolate and cream (and sometimes butter) to yield a creamy consistency. Percentages of dairy to chocolate may vary depending on recipe. Used in many filled chocolates and desserts.

German Chocolate – Like Baker’s chocolate German chocolate was created for baking and cooking but has sugar already added to it.

Gianduja/Gianduia – Is an Italian chocolate preparation originally from Turin, Italy in which chocolate is combined with 30% hazelnut paste.

Grain – The consistency of the crystallization of chocolate.

Grand Cru – Refers to a chocolate that has cocoa beans in it from a specific region but may not be a single estate or a single varietal.

Grinding – a stage in the production of chocolate. Roasted cocoa nibs are ground for various lengths of time to release cocoa butter to produce cocoa liquor or mass.


Infusion – A process of transferring flavor into chocolate by steeping. The ingredients are then strained out of the chocolate before being used.


Lecithin – An emulsifier and stabilizer that is commonly added to chocolate, typically derived from soy.


Melangeur – A granite stone on stone grinder used for crushing cocoa nibs into cocoa liquor.

Mexican Chocolate – Is chocolate mixed with various spices and ingredients and is used for drinking and/or cooking. Also may refer directly to the drink.

Milk Chocolate – Chocolate that contains any milk solids is considered milk chocolate, even if the percentage is very low. Many milk chocolates also contain more sugar than dark chocolates.

Molding – When tempered chocolate is poured into molds to set.

Mole – Though commonly associated with chocolate; savoury Mexican mole sauces can contain many types of ingredients. Many with no chocolate.

Molinillo – A wooden whisk with concentric rings originating in Spain used for frothing beverages. It’s popularly associated with Mexican hot chocolate.

Mouthfeel – A creepy sounding word used in defining the texture and of chocolate as it dissolves in your mouth. Also see thick

Melangeur – A mixer that breaks down cacao into fine particles while combining it with sugar (if sugar is added)


Nibs – Roasted, de-shelled cocoa beans pieces.

Nose – Borrowed from the world of wine: the smell or aroma of chocolate.


Origin Cacao – See single-origin


Praline (Belgian) – Filled Chocolates.

Press Cake
– The result of pressing cocoa mass to extract cocoa butter. This cake is ground to make cocoa powder.


Raw Cacao – The fermented and dried cocoa beans, before roasting.

Raw Chocolate – Is a chocolate product that is produced by not allowing the beans to rise above120ºF/49ºC . Raw chocolate is the subject of much debate due to serious concerns about food safety. Also known as virgin or unroasted chocolate.

Roasting – An essential step in chocolate production, roasting cocoa beans builds additional character in the flavor and can have major effects on the chocolate’s profile.


Single-Origin – Cocoa products made of beans from one specific growing region.

Single-Estate – Cocoa products made of beans from one plantation.

Smallholding – Single family farms in developing countries.

Snap – The sound and feeling when you break off a piece of chocolate from a bar.

Soy Lethicin – See lethicin


Tannins/Tannic – A flavor found in many chocolates. Tannins taste slightly acidic in chocolate and make the mouth feel slightly dry. Like strong black tea.

Tempering – The process of heating and cooling chocolate to ensure that it sets properly. Properly tempered chocolate has a nice snap and shine.

Terroir – Refers to the location the cacao was grown as well as the earth, water, air, and spirit of that location. Terroir is also commonly used in the worlds of wine and coffee.

Theobroma Cacao – The cacao tree.

Thick – A term used to describe the mouthfeel of chocolate. Chocolate that is not smooth in the mouth can be described as thick or to have thickness.

Trinitario – One of the three most popular cocoa beans used today alongside Forastero and Criollo. Popularly known as a cross between Forastero and Criollo research has shown its heritage may be much more complex. The second highest yielding cacao crop.


Unroasted Chocolate – see raw chocolate


Varietal – The type of cocoa bean that was used in the chocolate. Some bars use a single origin bean while other blend different varietals together. Though Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero are the most common names seen there are actually many strains of cacao.

Virgin Chocolate – see raw chocolate


White Chocolate – Contains cocoa butter but no cocoa liquor. Because of this it technically is not chocolate though it is still a product of cocoa.

Winnowing – The process of removing the roasted cocoa nibs from the shell.