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Scientists at the Technical University of Munich and Leibniz Institute of Food Systems Biology (LSB) have found a new and efficient way to identify the flavour profile of cocoa samples.

The scientists, who have made the news previously at bartalks for their work in identifying the bitter elements of coffee, have now turned their attention to cocoa.

One of the goals was to support the generation of a flavour map, based on empirical data, but reaching the objective was made more difficult by the complexity of the inter-relationship between the compounds.

In the future, such a map could help to further optimise processing and production processes by making the flavour profiles of cocoa-containing products, such as chocolate, objectively predictable based on molecular parameters. – Andreas Dunkel of LSB.

Interestingly, the technique doesn’t rely on new technology but employs a methodology developed by the scientists. This, in turn, means there is no technology development hurdle or capital investment problem to overcome. 

There is no technology development hurdle or capital investment problem to overcome. 

The scientists say the technique is ready to be used in a commercial environment, and it scales much better than previous techniques. Furthermore, it can be employed at any point in the value chain, as it works as well on chocolate as it does on cocoa beans.

“Traditional techniques make it possible to analyze about ten samples per week, whereas this new method allows an analysis of 200 in that time,” according to Professor Corinna Dawid, who is head of the department on behalf of Professor Thomas Hofmann. 

To validate their findings, they took 75 samples of different cocoa from around the world, then roasted some of them in the lab using standard procedures. When comparing the unroasted vs the roasted beans they were able to make some deductions that were perhaps non-intuitive. As Dunkel puts it.

Interestingly, we found that the roasting of the cocoa influenced the flavor profile more than the respective regional origin of the beans. – Andreas Dunkel of LSB.

In addition to the genetic predisposition of plants and the fermentation method, other factors may now be investigated with the help of the new methodology. 

LSB director Veronika Somoza and Dawid agree that this data on active sensory substances could be a valuable complement to the world map of cocoa in due course.


  • Nick Baskett


    Nick Baskett is the editor in Chief at Bartalks. He holds a diploma from the Financial Times as a Non Executive Director and works as a consultant across multiple industries. Nick has owned multiple businesses, including an award-winning restaurant and coffee shop in North Macedonia.

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