This Royal Cacao Tasting Guide is a combination of guides that we have reviewed. Generally, we saw that one wheel could not contain such wide range of flavors and defects of cacao beans that generally need to be described, so we have taken the flavor characteristics and arranged them in two different wheel guides. The first guide represents desirable flavors and the second guide represents defects.
In the first tasting guide, we have fine-tuned the fruity flavors into three sections—dried fruit, fresh fruit, and tropical fruit and we have broken out the spice category into savory spice and warm spice.
The second wheel guide represents a wide assortment of defective and off-flavors. By dedicating one complete wheel guide to these defects, we feel it helps to easier identify defects and off-flavors.
Note that the Royal Cacao Tasting Guide is meant to be a point of reference and not a tasting instruction guide. We hope you enjoy this guide and encourage you to print them for your individual and group tastings.
A sour or acidic taste that is generally caused by insufficient fermentation. The sour flavor is detected at the back of the tongue. If a mineral acid is present, there can also cause a metallic flavor present.
Caused by insufficient or lack of fermentation and produces an effect that provokes a dryness in the mouth, and tongue or behind the front teeth.
Typically Caused by insufficient or lack of fermentation and is felt in the back of the tongue and throat.
This represents the typical sensation or flavor of well-fermented cacao beans which have been roasted and free of defects or when describing the typical flavor of chocolate bars.
Caramel & Sweet
This can present itself in a wide variety of sweet flavors on the tip of the tongue then through the whole mouth.
Earthy & Defective
Earthy & off-flavors are a wide-ranging series of unpleasant flavors. The second wheel guide lists 33 of the most common of these defects.
This can be represented by a wide range of perfumed notes both positive and negative. Ranging from pleasant herbal or flower fragrances to unpleasant earthy flavors such as old spices and fall leaves.
Impressions of a variety of fruits ranging from pleasant sweet aromas and slightly acid tropical or fresh fruit flavors to an unpleasant overripe flavor of putrid fruits.
Light and sweet sensations of nuts which can sometimes be lightly spicy.
Savory & Sweet Spices
Light and sweet sensations on the tongue of both savory and warm spices. When experienced as a defect, the flavor may present itself as some type of defective floral characteristic.