The Phases of Chocolate

Which do you think has the lower melting point – dark or milk chocolate? Questions like these were what inspired the Energy Club to host a chocolate tasting event on April 4th, focused on the science and engineering that lies behind crafting high-quality chocolate bars. Chocolate production is a great example of materials science in practice, and the event explored topics such as the microscopic structure of chocolate, how phase instabilities of cocoa butter leads to fat and sugar blooms, and the impact of cocoa particle size on viscosity. However, there is more to chocolate making than just science, and the event also seeked to highlight the artisanship behind good chocolate. The cocoa bean contains thousands of chemicals, and delicate control over the roasting of the beans is needed in order to bring out the rich chocolate flavor. Some of the more subtle aromas are often erased by mixing different types of beans together and overwhelming them with sugar, milk, and other additives. Nibble Chocolate, a San Diego company started in 2012, aims to highlight the nuances of the cocoa flavor by making their chocolate with only two ingredients; cocoa and sugar. Each bar is made with cocoa beans from a single location, and differences in climate between the regions lead to the growth of beans with different flavors. The bars made from beans grown in the fertile riverbeds of Madagascar, for example, are especially sweet, while those grown in the cold, wet climate of Dominican Republic have more of a rich and bold flavor. Nibble is part of a growing movement that aims to embrace the subtle flavors of the cocoa bean that tend to be lost in commercial chocolates, bringing attention to the science and artisanship involved in the creation of a great chocolate bar. The event was concluded with a chocolate tasting competition, where attendees got to taste chocolates from chocolatiers such as Nibble and try to match them with the correct bar based on the info given in the presentation. The winner ended up being our very own, Hayley Hirsch!

For more information about Nibble chocolate, come give them a visit in Old town, San Diego, or check them out at

Here are the slides used at the event, if you’re curious to learn more!

16 thoughts on “The Phases of Chocolate

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