What are Cocoa Solids?

What are Cocoa Solids?

Published by Chocolatier Jason Vishnefske on 3rd Sep 2022

What are Cocoa Solids?

A key ingredient of chocolates, chocolate confections and chocolate syrup are cocoa solids, which are the mixture of substances of cocoa butter and cocoa fiber from the cocoa bean. Technically cocoa solids are any part of the cocoa bean in a finished chocolate or chocolate dessert. So cocoa or cocoa powder or even cocoa butter - all are cocoa solids. High percentages of cocoa solids make the chocolate flavor more intense because it is a higher concentration of cocoa bean components (from a total percentage standpoint the more cocoa solids, the lower the sugar). 

EXAMPLE: 70% cocoa solids = roughly 70% cocoa bean component + 30% sugar = 100% confection

EXAMPLE: 70% cocoa solids = roughly 70 gr cocoa bean component + 30 gr sugar = 100 gr confection

EXAMPLE BELOW: 73% cocoa solids = 73% cocoa bean component + 27% sugar = Vietnam chocolate

vietnam dark chocolate couverture

Before dark and milk chocolate became popular in Europe, use of cocoa powder was quite prominent. Cocoa powder is 100% cocoa solids. Cocoa powder is the cocoa fiber part of the cocoa bean where cocoa butter has been pressed out. Cocoa was a very important and primary product in confectionery in old Europe while cocoa butter was considered more of a byproduct.

Cocoa Solids Common Terms 

Cacao: Cacao refers to cocoa beans which are the source of cocoa butter, cocoa powder and chocolate liquor.

Chocolate Liquor: It is a smooth liquid state that is formed by grinding the cocoa bean. Chocolate liquor is also known as chocolate, baking chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, bitter chocolate, cocoa mass, pure cocoa solids and cocoa paste.

Cocoa Butter: Cocoa butter refers to the natural fat which is present in cocoa beans. It melts at body temperature and provides chocolate a unique flavor and is the secret to the mouthfeel of chocolate.

How is Chocolate Made?

Following is the procedure of making chocolate:

Step 1: Cocoa trees are found in the Caribbean, Africa, Central and South America. They produce pods or oval fruits which are around 5-12 inches long. Approximately 30-50 cocoa seeds are contained in pods which are known as Cocoa beans of which they have a natural taste of bitter.

Step 2: Cocoa beans are cleaned, fermented and processed in a specific way to yield cocoa mass / chocolate.

Step 3: Cocoa mass, also known as chocolate liquor is made by roasting, shelling and grounding cocoa beans.

Step 4: Chocolate liquor or cocoa mass can be broken down into cocoa butter and cocoa fiber - cocoa solids. All the fat of the cocoa bean is contained in cocoa butter which is used as a vegan fat or oil.

Step 5: Cocoa butter, sugar and the pure cocoa solids of chocolate liquor are mixed to produce sweetened chocolate. The amount of sugar added to the chocolate liquor will determine the final result cocoa solids of the chocolate.So if 25% sugar is added to the chocolate liquor, it is then said this chocolate has 75% cocoa solids (keeping in mind the original chocolate is 100% cocoa solids).If you add 50% sugar to the pure 100 chocolate liquor you will have a chocolate with 50% cocoa solids.

Step 6: Chocolates are then packaged and sold through various retail & wholesale outlets.

A variety of chocolate products are produced by adding specific flavors, nuts, fruits etc., to chocolate mixtures in order to enhance the taste and bring a memorable uniqueness.

Types of Chocolate

All types of chocolates contain cocoa solids even white chocolate. Following are the most common types of chocolates.

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate
  • White Chocolate
  • Unsweetened Chocolate
  • Semisweet Chocolate
  • Couverture Chocolate

1- Dark Chocolate is also known as black chocolate throughout Asia and specifically Japan because it seems blackish in color. The proportion of milk in dark chocolate is very less and usually not at all. The Swiss chocolate makers are famous for adding a slight amount of milk to their chocolate to reduce bitterness. There is high percentage of cocoa solids present in dark chocolate which makes it taste bitter. It is produced by mixing pure cocoa solids (chocolate liquor), sugar and a little extra amount of cocoa butter fat. A range of dark chocolates are used in cooking and baking.

2- Milk Chocolate was invented in 1839 by a German company Jordan & Timaeus, and the first chocolate using condensed milk was produced by Daniel Peter and Henre Nestle in 1875. Milk chocolate is perhaps the most popular type of chocolate consumed throughout the world. It is a solid chocolate which is made up from liquid milk that is dried, milk powder or condensed milk powder, cocoa solids, sugar and cocoa butter. Vanilla flavor is often used in producing milk chocolate.

3- White Chocolate is a sweet chocolate in taste and is different from the traditional type of chocolate. No amount of cocoa fiber is used in white chocolate, which distinguishes it from other types of chocolates. The presence of milk and absence of cocoa fiber makes the color yellow or ivory rather than brown (this is the natural color of cocoa butter which is the base of white chocolate). White chocolates melt faster than dark or milk chocolate because of the core ingredient being cocoa butter and lower fiber content. It contains a variety of antioxidant properties but not as wide a range as what is found in other chocolates because of the lower concentration of cocoa solid ingredients like cocoa fiber.

4- Unsweetened Chocolate is primarily used for making other types of chocolate, healthy chocolate eating, baking, and ice cream production because the bitter flavor.Unsweetened chocolate is formed without the addition of sugar so it maintains the original cocoa bean flavor to a large extent. The two major ingredients of unsweetened chocolate are cocoa butter fat and cocoa fiber (Basically unsweetened chocolate is just ground cocoa bean turned into a semi-plastic state for eating or manufacturing).

5- Semisweet Chocolate contains minimum 35% cocoa solids and up to 65% sugar. It is a kind of dark chocolate often used for cooking purposes and it does not typically have milk solids. 

6- Couverture Chocolate is a relatively a new term for chocolate that is highly rich in cocoa butter. Varieties of some bittersweet and semisweet chocolates qualify as couverture chocolates. Santa Barbara Chocolate adds cocoa butter to chocolate liquor and then incorporates sugar to make our range of organic dark chocolate couvertures for example.

Percentage of Cocoa Solids in chocolate

Following are the percentages of cocoa solids by law used in chocolate making in Canada, European Union, Japan and United States of America respectively.


Type of Chocolate % of Cocoa Solids
Milk Chocolate ≥ 25%
Sweet Chocolate ≥ 31%
Bittersweet, Semisweet or Dark Chocolate ≥ 35%
White Chocolate 0%

Canadian cocoa solids chocolate definition

European Union

Type of Chocolate % of Cocoa Solids
Coverture Chocolate ≥ 35%
Chocolate Flakes ≥ 32%
Milk Chocolate ≥ 25%
Milk Chocolate Flakes ≥ 20%
Cream Chocolate ≥ 25%
Skimmed Milk Chocolate ≥ 25%
White Chocolate 0%

eu cocoa solids law


Type of Chocolate % of Cocoa Content
Pure Chocolate ≥35%
Pure Milk Chocolate ≥21%

japanese chocolate cocoa solids

United States of America

Type of Chocolate % of Chocolate Liquor
Milk Chocolate ≥ 10%
Sweet Chocolate ≥ 15%
Bittersweet, Semisweet or Dark Chocolate ≥ 35%
White Chocolate 0%

usa chocolate definition by cocoa content

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stacked chocolate bars

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