Lutheran World Relief (LWR) has unveiled the LWR Regional Cocoa Flavour Map, which documents distinct flavour profiles of cocoa produced by LWR co-operative partners in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
The flavour map was unveiled at the Salon du Chocolat 2017, an international trade fair taking place in Paris 28 October to November 1.
LWR said the flavour map will help cocoa producers connect with buyers of fine and specialty cocoa, who will be able to quickly identify the sources for the cocoa flavours, profiles and characteristics they are seeking.
LWR, with support from the World Environment Center (WEC) and US Department of State, as well as the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development, started the initiative more than a year ago in partnership with ZOTO, a Belgium-based cocoa consultancy, and in collaboration with the Guittard Chocolate Company and Cocoa of Excellence. In Nicaragua, the flavour map has received support from PROGRESA CARIBE-USDA project, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and SNV.
Despite strong global demand for cocoa, producers from the developing world often struggle to capture just a fraction of the crop’s full market value. LWR, through its ‘Ground Up’ initiative, assists cocoa producers by helping them to innovate, improve the quality and post-harvest processing of their crops and facilitate access to markets where they can benefit from the full value of their cocoa.
Dr Zoi Papalexandratou, Lead Cocoa Advisor for ZOTO, said the flavour map will open doors to the international chocolate market.
“The main scope of the project was to create a visual tool that illustrates the flavour diversity at the co-op level, in some cases even at cocoa blend level, as this was perceived through official tastings of the Cocoa of Excellence and project team,” she said.
“We considered that just geographical mapping of the new products would not be enough. Nowadays you find flavour guides in order to choose the gin, whisky or tonic that fits best your taste. That’s why we decided to accompany sensory data with quantitative data so we can support the subjective evaluations with concrete scientific objective measurements.
“This whole dataset gives us the possibility to correlate all the samples statistically and discover their actual organoleptic similarities,” she said. “Such a cocoa flavour guide can help a chocolate maker select lots from different locations that express similar notes.”
Thanks to the flavour map, farmers and co-operatives can demonstrate an ability to offer customer-driven solutions, as well as to adopt a more knowledgeable post-harvest approach. The flavour profiles can document the impact of small adjustments in processing on final cocoa quality as producers are trained to use laboratory equipment and perform qualitative analysis.