What Is The Chemistry Of Chocolate

(And How Do They Contribute to Flavor?)

The chemistry of chocolate goes beyond fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Chocolate contains hundreds of nutrients, minerals, and compounds which make it tasty, and maybe a bit addictive.

Different types of chocolate are made with slightly different ingredients, but all chocolate finds its base in cacao beans. White chocolate’s base is in only the fat of cacao beans— cocoa butter— while milk and dark chocolate both use whole cacao beans in their recipes. Cocoa butter accounts for over half the weight of a cacao bean, and is made up of fatty acids, over 95% of which are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid.

Compounds in Cocoa Solids

Chocolate also contains hundreds of chemical compounds, some of which react within the human brain to alter mood. These include:

Theobromine: Theobromine is a bitter chemical which widens the blood vessels, stimulates the heart, and acts as a mild diuretic; found in small amounts in cacao. Structurally the theobromine molecule is very similar to caffeine, and has similar effects.

Phenylethylamine: A bitter chemical which stimulates the body to make mood-altering drugs; often credited for chocolate’s uplifting effect.

Caffeine: A bitter chemical with similar structure to theobromine, with stimulant and slight anti-inflammatory properties; found in very small amounts in cacao.

Cannabinoid Receptor Activators: Chocolate contains three compounds which stimulate the production of anandamide, which binds to and activates cannabinoid receptors.

Beyond bodily and hormonal stimulants, cacao also contains salts made with metals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. These essential minerals may be present in small amounts, but they add up when you’re consuming chocolate with high cacao percentage.

How Do Compounds in Chocolate Contribute to Flavor?

Beyond the compounds found in cacao, it’s important to consider how the addition of sweeteners affects chocolate. Many of the compounds found in chocolate are bitter, which the brain associated with poison, making them unpleasant to eat. Sugar balances out those flavors, freeing the brain to focus on the hundreds of other compounds contributing to chocolate’s complex flavors.

Most chocolate contains a sweetener, usually some form of cane sugar, and those sugar molecules are also smoothed out and enveloped by cocoa butter during the conching process. Using a non-traditional sweetener, such as sugar alcohols or stevia powder, changes the composition and mouthfeel of the chocolate, sometimes making it taste sweeter. Erythritol in particular has a cooling effect in the mouth, which changes how you experience a chocolate’s flavor. With so many compounds in chocolate, it’s not possible for one chemical to completely dominate chocolate’s flavor more than sugar.

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  • Award Winning Chocolate Makers

    Bar & Cocoa is the premier purveyor of exceptional craft chocolates from award winning chocolate makers. We hand pick exceptional makers to feature.

  • Ethically Sourced

    Ethics is a key ingredient to the world’s best chocolate. Our selection supports a supply chain that is more transparent than fair trade and big-brand chocolate — and tastier!

  • Fine & Rare Origins

    The chocolate we offer is crafted from fine quality cacao. You can taste the uniqueness and complexity of different cacao origins with nuanced flavors, unlike mass-produced chocolate.


What makes Bar & Cocoa different?

At Bar & Cocoa, we're not just another chocolate shop; we're a chocolate experience. We meticulously curate a selection of the finest chocolates from artisanal makers around the globe. Our focus is on quality, ethical sourcing, and sustainability. We go the extra mile to educate our customers about the complexities of cacao cultivation and chocolate making through detailed product descriptions, flavor profiles, and origin stories. When you shop with us, you're not just indulging in a treat; you're becoming part of a community that values the art and science of chocolate making.

What is bean to bar chocolate?

Bean to bar chocolate is chocolate that is made from scratch by the same producer, starting from the raw cacao beans and ending with the finished chocolate bars and treats. This process allows the chocolate maker to control every aspect of the chocolate making, such as roasting, grinding, conching, tempering, and molding. Bean to bar chocolate is often more flavorful, nuanced, and ethical than mass-produced chocolate. It reflects the artistry and craftsmanship of the maker and the quality and origin of the cacao.

How do you source your chocolate? Is it ethical and sustainable?

We source our chocolate from award winning craft makers who use high-quality cacao beans and go beyond fair trade. We work with over 50 fine chocolate makers from around the world who share our values and passion for real chocolate. Some of the countries we source our chocolate from include Peru, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua,, Philippines, India, and many more. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting origins and makers to add to our collection.

Do you have vegan, or keto-friendly or soy free chocolate?

Yes, we do! We have a variety of chocolate options that cater to different dietary preferences and needs. You can browse our collections of organic chocolate, vegan chocolate, keto-friendly chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, dairy-free chocolate, gluten-free chocolate, soy-free chocolate, nut-free chocolate, and more on our website. We also provide detailed information on each product page about the ingredients and allergens of each product.

How do you pick your chocolate makers?

When it comes to selecting our chocolate offerings, we're basically the chocolate sommeliers you never knew you needed. Our process starts with rigorous research and tastings. Yeah, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. We scour the globe for artisanal and craft chocolate makers who share our commitment to quality, ethical sourcing, and innovation in flavor.

We scrutinize everything from cacao origin to production methods and flavor profiles. Only the best of the best make it into our curated collection, offering you a world-class chocolate experience in every bite. Each bar has a story, a unique flavor profile, and the power to transport you to a different part of the globe. We're not just selling chocolate; we're offering an edible journey.