Why is the best chocolate in the world so cheap
Chocolate tester: "I only recommend two chocolate manufacturers"
What distinguishes good chocolate, how is it made and what is just customer fraud? Georg Bernardini (45) wanted to know and did some research, but also tasted it. The co-founder of Confiserie Coppeneur (Bernardini himself was in the company until 2010) wrote a book about the results.
The world: Mr. Bernardini, you tried out yourself for ten months and tried 2,950 different chocolate products in that time - why?
Georg Bernardini: I am a trained pastry chef and used to make chocolate myself. Now I wanted to test the global chocolate market - I tried products from 38 countries - and write a book about it.
The world: Have you tried three bars a day - and also eaten all of them?
Bernardini: No not at all. Usually only one piece was enough for me, a maximum of five to ten grams. Or half a praline, I've also tested pralines. And the longer I tried, the smaller the portions I needed. In extremely rare cases, when something tasted very good, I ended up eating it (laughs).
The world: After five months the low point came, you felt "depression" - why?
Bernardini: In the beginning I had very good products. And then there came a time when there were so many bad chocolates there. I was frustrated by how much bad chocolates - whether expensive or cheap - are on the market. That was also my motive for the book: I want to show the consumer what is good and what is bad.
The world: And what is good and what is bad?
Bernardini: The list of ingredients already shows that. For example dark chocolate - if it contains vanillin (not natural vanilla), then that is bad, and the chocolate cannot be good either. With milk chocolates, you should see where the sugar is and where the cocoa butter / cocoa mass is. In high-quality milk chocolate, sugar is never the top priority. When it comes to pralines or refined chocolates, the alarm bells ring for me when flavorings are used.
The world: What is so bad about flavorings - that they simulate something that is not there?
Bernardini: Exactly. Why is the chocolatier unable to create the taste of a strawberry using fruit powder or concentrate in a chocolate? Why does he have to use flavorings?
The world: Isn't that a question of cost? He doesn't do it because he wants to produce cheaper?
Bernardini: Yes and no. I know from experience that the cost of concentrates is not much higher than that of flavoring. I suspect that it is more due to the reduced shelf life of the products.
The world: One of your disappointments was when the saleswoman in a shop selling high-quality chocolates suddenly came out as a Milka fan -
Bernardini: Yes, he didn't even care that there was vanillin in a chocolate! I just like it, she said. The end consumer palate has been messed up by the industry for years.
The world: You also criticize the manufacturers' many half-truths and falsehoods. Example conching - longer is not automatically better, even if this is suggested ...
Bernardini: Exactly. In the conching machine, the chocolate is heated and moved at the same time so that the aromas develop. This can take between eight and 120 hours, but the pure conching time is not a quality feature. Longer is not better, no.
The world: What else did you notice?
Bernardini: Some companies advertise that they make their own chocolates. But that is not the case at all. Often there is additional purchase. Some black sheep even get a pre-packaged product delivered to the warehouse. It is also a fallacy that self-made chocolate is of better quality. Do it yourself doesn't say anything.
The world: In addition to the conching time, cocoa is often advertised with exotic countries of origin (Africa, Caribbean) - that is also no proof of particularly good chocolate?
Bernardini: No. On the contrary. Especially since the manufacturer's information is often questionable. For example, the “Tobago” chocolate - I doubt that the manufacturer - a well-known German brand - can even get enough cocoa from there. I have been credibly assured that there are no sales outside the country in Tobago. Another chocolate from this manufacturer, which I also mention by name in my book, comes from Madagascar. A plantation with this name is not known to me or even to local cocoa experts. The name itself is pure fantasy, it doesn't even exist in the language. The cocoa for another chocolate comes from Papua New Guinea. The place after which the product is named is in New Caledonia (which belongs to France).
The world: How about organic chocolate - it's booming, but is it also of better quality?
Bernardini: No, the organic production of the ingredients is not a quality feature in chocolate production. There are wonderful cocoa from Jamaica, Venezuela and Madagascar. The producers there often cannot afford to have their products certified according to organic criteria - but neither can the expensive pesticides. In other words, the chocolate is free of harmful substances anyway, even if it does not have an organic seal.
The world: Big names like Hachez, Hamann or Lindt only got one or two beans on their six cocoa bean scale. The alleged chocolate nation Belgium also did poorly ...
Bernardini: The Belgians have not brought a decent product to market for the past 30 years. Where the reputation for good chocolate and pralines comes from is a mystery to me - I only recommend two manufacturers, Pierre Marcolini or Laurent Gerbaud. There is also no one in the country who produces chocolate straight from the beans themselves. It is downright bizarre when some manufacturers advertise “we use Belgian couverture” - yes, they don't even exist!
The world:... The rising nation is surprisingly the USA ...
Bernardini: Yes, we Europeans can only be jealous of that. In the past five years, 70 new companies have been founded, almost all of them produce super quality, which is produced "bean to bar", from the bean to the bar, in-house. In Europe only two or three providers have been added, none of them are based in Germany. And that in the largest country in Europe, with the second largest chocolate consumption after France!
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