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about premium chocolate

Understanding cacao beans: Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero

a connoisseur's guide

Venezuelan cacao pods

Signature flavor of chocolate
In fine chocolate, the aroma of the rainforest
Characteristics of a fine chocolate
Chocolate with the best of spirits ... and wines
Chocolate's essential rainforest

like chocolate, like wine

Like superb wine and premium olive oils, fine chocolates all carry a signature flavor. Their distinctive tastes start with the original ingredient: the cacao bean. Wine grapes vary by varietal, region of origin, harvesting methods and weather. So, too, do cacao beans.

Sommeliers study a wine's taste, smell and visual cues to identify its region, grape, barrel wood and year. Similarly, sophisticated connoisseurs of chocolate can identify country of origin, cacao tree type and processing methods; and can detect whether a chocolate comprises beans from a single estate ("terroir") or blends.

Cacao trees come in three varieties: the Criollo, the Trinitario and the Forastero. Grown mainly in Central America, the Criollo represents only 1% of world production. Some exceptionally rare Criollo is harvested only by dugout canoe deep in the Amazon rainforest. Its cacao is fine and sweet, with complex flavor notes.

The Forastero, grown largely in West Africa and South America, comprises 80 percent of world production and has a strong, bitter taste.

The Trinitario, a flavorful bean that contains qualities of both trees, is grown throughout the world, producing five percent of world cacao output.

Visit our chocolate imports department to experience the surprising complexity of flavor in fine chocolates in their pure states.





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Chocolat Céleste creates chocolate delicacies for the connoisseur. Our award-winning truffles and gifts are based on devotion to artistic presentation and flavor perfection. Every day, our chocolatiers craft each piece using the finest ingredients. We use premium European chocolate made from “first cut” cacao beans from around the world. And we continually search for rare and emerging cacao estates from which we can source. To this foundation, we introduce the best ingredients: fresh artisanal cream and butter; and the marketplace's finest liqueurs, nuts, fruits and spices. The secret to our success is allowing the natural flavor notes to take center stage. We never use preservatives.