Cocoa and Chocolate



Those that mix maize in the Chocolate do very ill, for they beget bilious and melancholy humours.
A Curious Treatise on the Nature and Quality of Chocolate, Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1685.


Cocoa might conveniently be defined as consisting exclusively of shelled, roasted, finely-ground cacao beans, partially de-fatted, with or without a minute quantity of flavouring material.

The gross adulteration of cocoa is now a thing of the past, and most of the cocoa sold conforms with this definition. Statements, however, get copied from book to book, and hence we continue to read that cocoa usually contains arrowroot or other starch. In the old days this was frequently so, but now, owing to many legal actions by Public Health Authorities, this abuse has been stamped out. Nowadays if a Public Analyst finds flour or arrowroot in a sample bought as cocoa, he describes it as adulterated, and the seller is prosecuted and fined. Hence, save for the presence of cacao shell, the cocoa of the present day is a pure article consisting simply of roasted, finely-ground cacao beans partially de-fatted. The principal factors affecting the quality of the finished cocoa are the difference in the kind of cacao bean used, the amount of cacao butter extracted, the care in preparation, and the amount of cacao shell left in.

The presence of more than a small percentage of shell in cocoa is a disadvantage both on the ground of taste and of food value. This has been recognised from the earliest times (see quotations on ). In the Cocoa Powder Order of 1918, the amount of shell which a cocoa powder might contain was defined—grade A not to contain more than two per cent. of shell, and grade B not more than five per cent. of shell. The manufacturers of high-class cocoa welcomed these standards, but unfortunately the known analytical methods are not delicate enough to estimate accurately such small quantities, so that any external check is difficult, and the purchaser has to trust to the honesty of the manufacturer. Hence it is wise to purchase cocoa only from makers of good repute.


We have so far no legal definition of chocolate in England. As Mr. N.P. Booth pointed out at the Seventh International Congress of Applied Chemistry: "At the present time a mixture of cocoa with sugar and starch cannot be sold as pure cocoa, but only as 'chocolate powder,' and with a definite declaration that the article is a mixture of cocoa and other ingredients. Prosecutions are constantly occurring where mixtures of foreign starch and sugar with cocoa have been sold as 'cocoa,' and it seems, therefore, a proper step to take to require that a similar declaration shall be made in the case of 'chocolate' which contains other constituents than the products of cocoa nib and sugar." We cannot do better than quote in full the definitions suggested in Mr. Booth's paper.

The author refers to the absence of any legal standard for chocolate in England, although in some of the European countries standards are in force, and points out, as a result of this, that articles of which the sale would be prohibited in some other countries, are permitted to come without restriction on to the English market.

(Messrs. Cadbury Bros., Ltd.)

He suggests that the following definitions for chocolate goods are reasonable, and could be conformed to by makers of the genuine article. These standards are not more stringent than those already enforced in some of the Colonies and European countries:

(1) Unsweetened chocolate or cacao mass must be prepared exclusively from roasted, shelled, finely-ground cacao beans, with or without the addition of a small quantity of flavouring matter, and should not contain less than 45 per cent. of cacao butter.

(2) Sweetened chocolate or chocolate.—A preparation consisting exclusively of the products of roasted, shelled, finely-ground cacao beans, and not more than 65 per cent. of sugar, with or without a small quantity of harmless flavouring matter.

(3) Granulated, or Ground Chocolate for Drinking purposes.—The same definition as for sweetened chocolate should apply here, except that the proportion of sugar may be raised to not more than 75 per cent.

(4) Chocolate-covered Goods.—Various forms of confectionery covered with chocolate, the composition of the latter agreeing with the definition of sweetened chocolate.

(5) Milk Chocolate.—A preparation composed exclusively of roasted, shelled cacao beans, sugar, and not less than 15 per cent. of the dry solids of full-cream milk, with or without a small quantity of harmless flavouring matter.

Mr. Booth further states that starch other than that naturally present in the cacao bean, and cacao shell in powder form, should be absolutely excluded from any article which is to be sold under the name of "chocolate."

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