Why Does Some Coffee Taste Like Chocolate?

Why Does Some Coffee Taste Like Chocolate?

Jake Bonneman Jake Bonneman
4 minutes of coffee drinking

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Have you ever noticed that some coffees have not-so-subtle notes of chocolate or cocoa, while others don't taste like chocolate at all?

Have you ever wondered what gives certain coffees that unmistakable, chocolatey flavor?

Do you cringe when someone (generally a misguided ice cream company) refers to "coffee flavor" as if it were a single, monolithic thing?

If so—this article is for you.

"Chocolatey" Coffee - What Gives? 

What gives coffee its unique flavors? As usual, the answer lies in the beans.

Coffee beans contain compounds like caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and trigonelline that interact with each other to give coffee its signature taste. In particular, bitter-tasting compounds like caffeine and trigonelline can be found in high concentrations in coffee.

However, these bitter compounds are balanced by sweet-tasting compounds like sugar and lipids. When all these components are present in just the right balance, a cup of coffee takes on complex flavor notes ranging from sweet to bitter, nutty to earthy, and yes—"chocolatey."

So what makes a cup of coffee "chocolatey"? Let's make like Augustus Gloop—and dive right in.

How Roasting Affects Flavor Notes 

Coffees can range in flavors depending on where they are grown, how they are harvested, and—probably most importantly—how they are roasted.

When a coffee bean is roasted it loses moisture, changes color, and develops oils that bring out its unique characteristics. The roasting (and processing) bring out the subtle nuances in each bean. 

The Coffee Taster’s wheel developed by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) shows that chocolate notes are closely related to "nutty" notes. This means if your coffee has a nutty flavor, chances are it will taste chocolatey too! When tasting a "nutty" coffee blend, see if you can detect any subtle hints of chocolate as well.  

Bean Origin Affects Flavor Notes

In addition to the roast, where the beans were grown can also affect the flavor profile.

For example, Ethiopian coffees often have stone-fruit-like flavors (think apricot or peach) with a hint of cocoa or dark chocolate at the finish. Similarly, Brazilian coffees tend to be full-bodied with deep earthy undertones that can sometimes taste like semi-sweet cocoa nibs or dark chocolates.

Everywhere that coffee is grown, there are unique flavor profiles that come along. If you find a coffee with a chocolatey note, take a look at where it was grown and try to determine what other characteristics make it unique.

As you explore different coffees from different origins around the world you may find yourself surprised at all of the delicious nuances you can detect.

The Intersection of Roast and Origin

At the end of the day, why does some coffee taste like chocolate while other coffee doesn't? It all comes down to your coffee's "origin story." Different origins, different roasts, different profiles, different nuances. Even caffeine content can have a hand in determining the flavor of your coffee.

However, just because a coffee is "high in caffeine" doesn't mean it has to taste like jet fuel. For high caffeine coffee with delicious notes of chocolate and macadamia nuts, Black Insomnia is the perfect brew.

With Black Insomnia, you can have the perfect balance of flavor and intensity every time.

The next time you brew a cup of coffee, try to figure out what specifically makes it taste unique. Is there a touch of chocolate in the flavor profile? How about a hint of nutty notes? What about floral, fruity, or even "earthy" notes? Can you distinguish the differences between Robusta and Arabica beans? How about blends?

By understanding the complexities of coffee notes, you can start to appreciate all that goes into each bean—and each cup.

So now that you have that sudden craving for chocolate-flavored coffee, check out our dark roast extreme caffeine coffee which has subtle hints of chocolate flavoring.

Extreme Caffeine - Ground Classic Roast Coffee

Extreme Caffeine - Ground Classic Roast Coffee


The Strongest Coffee in the World Black Insomnia has 6 x MORE CAFFEINE than average coffee - so you can be more than average. Designed for those who drink it black, our medium-dark classic roast is the one that started… read more

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