Why Your Coffee Tastes Like Chocolate

Coffee and chocolate are grown in the same geographical region, which gives them overlapping flavors. Moreover, they undergo similar processes, so your coffee tastes like chocolate. 

The presence of antioxidants and caffeine also contributes to the similarity of flavors. 

Coffee lovers adore the distinctive flavor of their favorite caffeinated beverage. But sometimes your coffee tastes like chocolate. 

Keep reading to find out why your coffee tastes like chocolate.

Why Do Coffee and Chocolate Have Similar Tastes?

If you enjoy drinking coffee and eating dark chocolate, you would’ve noticed that coffee and chocolate have overlapping flavors. 

While coffee and chocolate are unrelated, why do they have similar tastes?

A common misconception is that dark chocolate is made from coffee. However, that’s not true. 

Coffee is not made from chocolate nor vice versa. Yet, the taste has a significant similarity, which can be attributed to many other factors. 

Here are a few possible explanations of why your coffee tastes like chocolate. 

Origin and Altitude 

One of the reasons your coffee tastes like chocolate is the origin of coffee and chocolate beans. 

Most of the world’s coffee and cocoa beans are grown in the region known as the bean belt. Around 70 countries are included in the bean belt. However, only 40 of these countries produce quality beans. 

The bean belt spreads from Central America and stretches through five continents. The belt covers large regions of South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. 

The belt forms an imaginary loop around the world between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. 

Several countries within this belt are major producers of coffee and cocoa beans. Some of the major producers include Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, Columbia, Indonesia, and Peru. 

Both coffee and cocoa beans are widely grown in the region. Since the two types of beans often grow in the same areas, they are chemically and biologically close to each other. 

Moreover, coffee and cocoa beans are grown in both low and high-altitude regions within these countries. However, coffee beans grown in low-altitude regions have a nuttier, chocolaty flavor. 

The distinct flavor results from more frequent natural and artificial cross-breeding between coffee and cocoa plants. Cross-breeding occurs more commonly in the bean belt’s lower-altitude regions. 

Countries that are a part of the bean belt’s low-altitude region include Guatemala, Columbia, and Brazil. 

Natural and artificial cross-breeding has led to several changes in coffee flavors. As a result, coffee beans from that region have adopted a specific nutty flavor. 

On the other hand, that’s not the case with coffee and cocoa beans grown in high-altitude regions. 

Coffee grown in the high-altitude region does not produce coffee beans that resemble the taste of chocolate. It’s due to limited or no opportunities for cross-breeding between coffee and cocoa plants. 

The high-altitude regions of the bean belt include Ethiopia and Kenya. 

The origin and altitude at which coffee and cocoa beans are grown in the bean belt are just one of the many reasons why your coffee tastes like chocolate. There are a few more facts that you need to know.  

Roasting of Coffee and Cocoa Beans 

Coffee and cocoa beans have a similar harvesting process. They both come from the seeds of the plant. 

They are harvested and removed from the flesh. Moreover, following harvesting, they are fermented, dried, and roasted to varying degrees. These processes can affect their taste to a great extent. 

Fermentation lowers the bean’s bitterness, whereas roasting helps bring out the beans’ natural sweetness.

But not all coffee beans are roasted the same. Coffee beans are roasted to varying degrees to bring out specific coffee notes. 

Coffee beans roasted lightly, for the least amount of time, are “light roast.” Coffee beans roasted for a medium amount of time give you a “medium roast.” It takes the longest to create a “dark roast.”  

Lightly roasted coffee beans have a more bitter flavor. Whereas coffee beans that are roasted for a slightly longer time have more caramelized sugar. 

Longer roasting increases the overall sweetness of the coffee beans. But roasting for too long can burn the nutty flavor. 

Hence, medium roasting is ideal for coffee beans to help bring out the most pronounced chocolaty flavor. 

Cocoa beans also undergo the roasting process. It helps reduce the moisture content in the beans. Moreover, it also enhances the unique nutty flavor by caramelizing natural sugar.

Hence, medium-roasted coffee beans taste similar to roasted cocoa beans.   

Presence of Antioxidants in Both Coffee and Cocoa Beans 

Both coffee and cocoa beans are loaded with high amounts of antioxidants. The presence of antioxidants is one of the potential reasons why your coffee tastes like chocolate. 

Coffee contains antioxidants, including

  • Trigonelline, 
  • Chlorogenic Acid (CGA), 
  • Quinine, 
  • Hydrocinnamic Acid, 
  • Melanoidins, 
  • Cafestol. 

On the other hand, cocoa beans contain the following antioxidants

  • Anthocyanins, 
  • Proanthocyanidins, 
  • Flavanols, 
  • Catechin and 
  • Epicatechin. 

The presence of antioxidants makes both coffee and cocoa incredibly healthy. But did you know that it can also influence the flavor of coffee and cocoa?

Typically, the presence of antioxidants in foods gives them a bitter taste. Hence, it shouldn’t be surprising that coffee and cocoa beans have a distinctively similar bitter taste. 

And while we have highlighted the presence of many other antioxidants, let’s remember that caffeine is one key antioxidant found in both beans. 

Both coffee and cocoa beans are super rich in caffeine. However, the amount of caffeine varies with the type of coffee and chocolate produced using the beans. 

Espresso has the highest amount of caffeine (26.5 mg per oz.), followed by black coffee (11.8 mg), latte, cappuccino, and macchiato (10.9 mg). 

On the other hand, unsweetened cocoa powder has the highest amount of caffeine (66 mg per oz), followed by 70% dark chocolate (25 mg) and 50% dark chocolate (12 mg). 

Coffee types that have a similar caffeine content as different types of chocolates will have a chocolaty flavor. For example, the taste of espresso closely resembles dark chocolate’s taste.  

Do All Chocolate Types Taste Like Coffee?

Now it’s clear that coffee and chocolate can have similar flavors. The similarity can be attributed to various factors, including origin, roasting, and the presence of antioxidants. 

But does that mean that all types of chocolates taste like coffee?

That’s not the case!

Chocolate’s bitter flavor is a result of the cocoa powder it contains. Chocolates with higher content of cocoa powder have a more bitter flavor. 

On the other hand, chocolates with less cocoa powder (and more milk and sugar) have a milder and more sweet flavor. 

Think of milk chocolate which contains around 25% cocoa powder. Compared to 70% dark chocolate, it has a much sweeter taste that doesn’t resemble a coffee-like flavor. 

However, the taste of the unsweetened cocoa powder is very similar to that of coffee. 

On the other hand, white chocolate, which contains no cocoa solids, has no bitterness. It certainly doesn’t taste like coffee. 

What Type of Coffee Tastes Like Chocolate? 

Now we know several factors that can influence the similarity between coffee and chocolate’s taste. 

Still if you’re wondering what type of coffee tastes like chocolate, here’s the answer for you. 

Coffee beans grown in low-altitude regions of the bean belt are more likely to have a nutty flavor. 

Since coffee and cocoa plants are grown closely, natural and artificial cross-breeding is more likely. The process can cause coffee beans to have a taste similar to that of cocoa beans. 

Moreover, roasting can affect the flavor of coffee beans. Light roasting doesn’t bring out the sweeter coffee notes. Whereas longer roasting can burn the sweet flavor. 

Hence, medium-roasted coffee beans will have a more pronounced nutty flavor. Medium-roasted coffee beans closely resemble the taste of chocolate. 

Lastly, coffee types that contain the same amount of antioxidants as different types of chocolate will have a chocolaty taste. 

What Type of Chocolate Tastes Like Coffee? 

Chocolate gets its unique bitter flavor due to the presence of cocoa powder. The more the content of cocoa powder, the more bitter the chocolate will be, and hence closer to the taste of coffee. 

On the other hand, chocolates made using less cocoa powder content have a sweeter taste. Their sweet taste is quite different from the taste of coffee.   

Key Takeaways 

If you’re a coffee lover, you would know the unique flavor of your favorite caffeinated beverage. But sometimes, you may find coffee that tastes like chocolate. 

Many individuals may enjoy coffee with that distinct flavor. Yet, they’ll wonder why their coffee tastes like chocolate.

Both coffee and chocolate are distinct plants. Yet, they are often grown in the same geographical location. Sharing the same origin and similar chemicals while growing gives them a similar taste. 

Moreover, when grown at low altitudes, there are increased opportunities for cross-breeding. The process allows for overlapping coffee and chocolate flavors. 

Undergoing similar processes after harvesting is also one of the reasons for similarity in taste. Both coffee and cocoa beans are roasted for flavor enhancement. 

Lastly, the presence of antioxidants in coffee and cocoa beans also accounts for the similarity of taste. 

Now you can sip your coffee without wondering why it tastes like chocolate.

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