December 9, 2023

Technically, both statements are incorrect. Dark chocolate should not contain a sour taste of bitterness, but it’s a bitter food.

Dark chocolate can be sweet food. However, it shouldn’t be unpleasant.

Many chocolate lovers are unaware that there are two kinds of bitterness found in dark chocolate: A good one, which contributes to its lovable intenseness, and a negative one that causes it to seem like a punishment.

Let’s look at what they are like and what makes them different when you taste them.

What is Bitterness?

Bitterness is among the five tastes: sourness, sweetness, saltiness, and umami.

Past research placed bitterness receptors in some regions of the tongue. However, this theory has been debunked for a long time. The bitter receptors are not only in all areas in the mouth but throughout the body, the stomach, nose, lungs, and brain.

Bitterness is a bodily feeling of sharpness or a spicy taste like sourness. It is usually described as being the opposite of sweetness.

As tasters of chocolate, how we consider bitterness good or bad is based on the excellent quality of chocolate we have in our midst and the genes that determine our tolerance for offense and later adaptation.

Genetic differences affect how we experience bitterness differently. Certain people are more susceptible to irritation than others. There’s a good chance you’ve heard someone complaining about a particular dark chocolate that is extremely bitter, yet you were able to find it perfectly well-balanced. However, our tolerance for bitterness can be adjusted and even raised to the point where it is genuinely a pleasure.

There’s a person in our lives who was once a fan of sugar and milk in their coffee. They then changed to black coffee due to reasons of health. They never went back and are now raving about how their coffee tastes better when it is purest and the most bitter version. They just grew used to black coffee, and that degree of bitterness is their standard in terms of offense (so that if they tried to add sugar and milk back to their cup, they’d likely be appalled!). We are born with a particular taste for bitterness. However, our brains and palates can be cultivated.

When it is about chocolaty, you will find a few ingredients that cause it to taste bitter.

Where Does Bitterness in Chocolate Come From?

Dark chocolate is more bitter than white or milk chocolate. It has more significant amounts of cacao. But what is it that makes cacao naturally painful?


Like all plants, the cacao tree produces chemicals to protect itself against animals that would like to devour the seeds in its fruit. Theobromine is the primary bitter-tasting alkaloid found in cacao; however, polyphenols, flavonoids, and alkaloids are all known to possess an astringent, bitter, and acidic flavor.


All cacao beans are not all created to be the same. Commercial and high-yield cacao varieties typically have more bitterness when compared to unique and rare types with naturally sweet notes and a distinct flavor character. The cacao beans deemed top-quality yield more bitter cacao, and chocolate made with low-quality cacao beans is exceptionally painful.

Cacao varieties vary significantly in their bitterness levels.


Location of cultivation, methods of fermentation, roasting technique maturity of the bean and harvest time, and the time to store following harvest are other factors that can affect the cacao bean’s bitterness.

The result of these variables from the seed to the bars is that dark chocolate can be characterized as either good or bad bitterness.

The Good Bitterness in Dark Chocolate

It is often portrayed as an unlikable quality. However, the reality reveals something else. Consider how many people worldwide enjoy black coffee, tea that is not sweetened, and beer. Or consume their bitter green salad (kale chicory, arugula, and arugula) each day. Are they all insane taste senses?

In harmony with other flavors and tastes, bitterness is a part of the pleasure certain foods offer us. That’s precisely the way it is with chocolate.

Dark chocolate’s bitterness is a vital part of a round taste profile. It provides the chocolate structure, substance, and depth. Without a bit of acidity, bitterness and sweetness are the predominant sensations of dark chocolate. Bitterness is also a factor in dark chocolate’s complex flavor and depth.

This type of bitterness isn’t sour or unpleasant. It’s a pleasure throughout the tasting, and it carries on each flavor nuance and cleanses the palate towards the end. You’re not feeling the need to “get rid” of it since it’s a part of the pleasure.

What does “good bitterness” in dark chocolate taste like?

There is a good amount of acidity in chocolate made by using premium cacao and created by experts in the field of chocolate making. In these chocolates, the raw materials are at a low-bitterness beginning point, well-fermented, and free of significant flavor flaws. The aromatic qualities of cacao varieties and the artisan’s skill create layers of subtleties and play with sweetness, acidity, and astringency. Bitterness is only one aspect of the balance.

On the other end of the spectrum is bitterness, that’s less pleasurable.

The Bad Bitterness in Dark Chocolate

The bitterness of dark chocolates is the only thing you can concentrate on. You won’t be able to appreciate every flavor nuance since the offense is so potent that it is glaring and abrasive. It’s not like an orchestra in harmony; however, it is a weapon that ruins everything it comes across.

Instead of smoothing out the taste characteristic of dark chocolate, it turns it sharp and with sharp peaks of unpleasantness. The brain is aware that “something isn’t right”.

This bitterness is typically seen in dark chocolate produced in large quantities and standardized, in which cacao beans are low-quality: cheap, poorly fermented, and contaminated. The hurried, aggressive, and industrial manufacturing methods increase the bitterness of cacao beans (instead of lessening the offense).

Mass-produced chocolate is usually identified by its pungent bitterness that is unpleasant. This is the type of dark chocolate people purchase because “it’s the healthier option” but secretly dislike the taste (or, more importantly, they believe that this is the way dark chocolate should smell.

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