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About the best Chocolatiers that you know...
May 29, 2007
12:56 am
Juan Francisco Mollinedo
Guatemala City, Guatemala
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February 16, 2007
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I am wondering how you define a great Taster. Is that person a great “tongue” I mean has a very high sensitivity and knows what the gourmet market wants and/or is the person that knows the quality of the great beans?

Is there any good training to be a great “tongue”? How you become a good taster? Is there any Society or group that “certifies” these persons? What is the history here?

Can you name some (in your opinion)of the best around?

I am asking because I don’t know this and I would be interested to become one.

Thanks for your kind answers.

Juan Francisco

Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate

Juan Francisco Mollinedo Cacaos de Mesoamérica, S.A. ITZEL CHOCOLATE Guatemala   “Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate”
May 29, 2007
3:28 pm
deb
Calgary, Canada
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Forum Posts: 146
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May 29, 2005
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Tasting is a matter of opinion. When I develop a recipe I have friends who are very artistic and have a great sense of taste and can pick apart all the flavours I use. I use these people to help me get the ultimate chocolate!! Again, it is their opinion. There really is no right or wrong answer as to what is a great chocolate and what is not. My tasters are people who know quality, have a keen awareness of taste, and who will be very blatantly honest with me. I have other people who I could feed a cheap flavoured fondant to, and they would tell me it is awesome!!
Chocolatiers: There are plenty of unknowns who are small artisan chocolatiers that are probably making the equivalent in quality and taste as compared to the big names. I am home based until this fall when I plan to get a shop open. My clientele, prefers me over Bernard Callebaut. They tell me my chocolates are better than his. My measuring stick is the feedback and the orders I get from the corporate world.
Back to tasting: I spend alot of time studying Bean to Bar companies, and as many commentaries as I can find on how to taste. When I do a chocolate tasting presentation I tell my audience what they should be looking for. It is hard for people to guess if they have no experience. Their brains are not trained to focus on the various flavours, and I provide the guidance to get them to be looking and thinking about the different flavours. Very much like wine tasting!!

May 29, 2007
6:17 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
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October 13, 2009
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quote:


Originally posted by deb

<deletia>
Back to tasting: I spend alot of time studying Bean to Bar companies, and as many commentaries as I can find on how to taste. When I do a chocolate tasting presentation I tell my audience what they should be looking for. It is hard for people to guess if they have no experience. Their brains are not trained to focus on the various flavours, and I provide the guidance to get them to be looking and thinking about the different flavours. Very much like wine tasting!!


Interesting. I generally don’t say, at least not upfront, exactly *what* to look for so much as *how* to search. In other words, I try to describe how to approach the process of tasting rather than convey any specific flavours, good or bad, that people should be trying to identify, in part because I tend to feel that might bias the audience towards my subjective preferences as opposed to their own. Even stating specific flavours to note without making any claims as to whether they’re a positive attribute or a negative one has the effect of predisposing the taster to notice that flavour, present or not.

But there’s a drawback to my approach that you don’t get with yours. Many people, especially those who are new to tasting, might be able to say in general terms that something tastes better or worse, without being to isolate what it is about it that they’re noticing. 2 cases in point are vanillin and Dutch processing. Many people can easily identify these, and will note that they taste different, but they can’t quite articulate what it is about it that is different, much less identify the source of the different taste. But if you tell them, for example, that vanillin lends a sharp citrus bite to the flavour or that Dutch processing leaves a metallic taste, they’ll pick up on it right away. I suspect also this inability to isolate and articulate the differences is a contributing factor to studies claiming that people can’t notice the difference between, e.g. vanillin and vanilla. They can, they just don’t have the experience and background to say what it is.

So your approach definitely has the merit of giving people more to go on. How, then, might we introduce tasting in a way that on the one hand gives people sufficient information to say what it is that they note and on the other hand doesn’t introduce any factor of bias coming from the person conducting the tasting?

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
June 24, 2007
9:44 pm
deb
Calgary, Canada
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Forum Posts: 146
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May 29, 2005
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Alex,
When I do a chocolate tasting I am on limited time and usually a surprise guest for a corporate meeting typically for companies in the oil industry. Some people like and love chocolate, others don’t. Essentially I go in and entertain them with different specifics about chocolate and then we taste different high end chocolate. Because time and an unknown audience are serious factors for me, I don’t feel it necessary to have them guess what they might be looking for in a flavour. They are given a thorough as possible education of the chocolate, they tend to nibble, and hopefully save some for later to try to evaluate for themselves about the product.
Now, if I am in a shop environment and I advertise a chocolate tasting, I will be attracting the die hard chocoholics !! I would do the whole tasting in a very different manner.
I attended a wine tasting and quite honestly, I really did not know how to taste, the sommelier, who teaches the sommelier program in 2 different cities, told us what we could and should expect and it really helped me to know what flavours to look for. I thought it was interesting because that is my approach with my corporate chocolate tastings. When I do the tastings, I do allow my audience to share what they are observing, providing it is a small group.
Deb.

January 7, 2008
8:45 am
chocolatespeak
Jerusalem, Israel
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Forum Posts: 8
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October 30, 2007
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I am currently developing my own chocolate tasting ability as well as teaching classes on how to taste. The most simple and obvious answer is that you have to taste a lot of chocolate. Not only that, but it is best to be in prime tasting conditions–comfortable, not distracting smells or sounds and plenty of time. Then simply taste the chocolate. I take notes about the smell (I rub it in my hands and cup my palms), the top note (when it first enters the mouth), the base note (what it settles into), the mouthfeel and the end of mouth (flavor after it has dissolved). After that I write a one sentence summary of the experience and give it a rating from 1-100 using a chocolate version of Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible rating scale. By doing this I am slowly developing a database of tastings, which allows me to be more informed when I taste a new chocolate. When I teach we use a big poster with categories of flavors (fruity, nutty, vegetable…) and we brainstorm flavors to fit into those categories. It gets people thinking about what they may be encountering and also gives them a visual reference for inspiration. Then we discuss the flavors and give it a rating from 1-100.

Chocolatespeak.com
Let’s Talk Chocolate

Chocolatespeak.com Let's Talk Chocolate
January 11, 2008
1:10 am
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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Forum Posts: 81
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December 12, 2005
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I tend to think that to be a good taster you have to be intelligent, have developed a good sense for associations and have a well working limbic system (for emotional memories retrieval). I could not even put this into words of a hypothesis but I observed that even uneducated tongues are great tasters in the mouths of people with a special sort of natural intelligence. And women have an obvious advantage over men-their olfactory senses are much more used and are more sensitive (even if this mainly stays in the subconscious layer of information processing).