Chocolate Lesson 101: What Cocoa Percentage Means

September 26, 2016


Have you ever wonder what the “% cocoa” meant on chocolate labels? That number actually refers to the total percentage of cocoa solids in that product (including the chocolate liquor (chocolate mass), cocoa butter and also cocoa powder).

Percentage of cocoa can be deemed as a guide to specific flavour intensity. The lower the number indicates a milder chocolate taste while the higher the number means the product has a deeper chocolate flavour.  This number would be able to help you choose the chocolate that matches your taste preference and palate or your recipe’s needs

Greater Flavor Intensity:

In general, a higher “% cocoa” meant a more intense chocolate flavor. For example, under Codex Regulations require a milk chocolate to contain not less than 25% cocoa solids whereas a dark chocolate contain not less than 35% total cocoa solids resulting in a higher “% cocoa” and a more intense chocolate flavor


.Less Sweetness:

A higher “% cocoa” means less added sugar. For example, a 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate has roughly 12 percent less sugar than a 58 percent cocoa dark chocolate.


Varying Amounts of Flavanol Content:

Chocolate has received much positive news from health researchers because of its flavanols. While these compounds are present in chocolate liquor and cocoa powder, actual levels of flavanols in a particular product may fluctuate widely depending upon the recipe, cocoa beans used, processing practices, and storage and handling conditions. Therefore, “% cocoa” may not necessarily indicate a chocolate’s flavanol content.


Always remember to check % cocoa in order to correctly gauge the flavour and taste of the chocolates! Till next time.



Chef Jacques Poulain.


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