It is hard to find a person who does not like chocolate. Chocolate has been an important part of the diet for many people around the world. Some people believe that chocolate gives them a kick at the start of the day.
Those who suffer from low blood sugar levels keep chocolate in their pockets at all times so that in case of need they can intake sugar via chocolate.
Chocolate has also made its place at the center of many occasions such as Valentine’s Day or wedding ceremonies. And is considered to be an important desert in any happy occasion.
But does caffeine-free chocolate exists?
The Answer is No. Where there is chocolate, there is caffeine. Artificial chocolates such as those made from different materials other than Cocoa (a key ingredient of chocolate) may give you the same taste like chocolate but they are not chocolate scientifically.
So, if you are looking for chocolate benefits and don’t want caffeine in it, then there’s no other way.
We’ll be diving deeper into this below.
Did you know, that according to statistics, the world chocolate consumption has been increasing over the years. For the year 2019, the consumption of chocolate was estimated to be 7.7 million metric tons. The country famous for chocolate manufacturing, Switzerland, has the highest consumption of chocolate per capita, which is not a surprise. According to estimates, the citizens of Switzerland consumed on average of nine kilos of sweets in a year.
This addiction to chocolate is very much established in the neighboring countries of Switzerland such as Austria and Germany. The US chocolate market was valued at $22 billion in 2016 and according to research, the market share is expected to touch $30 billion by the year 2021.
With increased consumption of chocolate, there is an active debate about chocolate being fit for consumption. Some nutrition suggests that chocolate is not fit for consumption because it has sugar and caffeine in it.
Some experts believe that chocolate is not healthy but not harmful as well if you control the intake. The later statement makes sense because excessive intake of anything can result in harmful results.
The History of Chocolate:
A Gift from Gods:
The history of chocolate is very old but historically chocolate was not in the form as we have in the modern era. Chocolate only existed in Mesoamerican land around 1900 BCE. At that time, it was believed that the cacao beans are heavenly fruits, which were gifted by the gods to the humans. Therefore, chocolate beans in their earlier forms had more value as compared to what they have right now.
The people of Mesoamerican land used beans from the cacao tree and then were grounded, and mixed with chili peppers to make a drink. That drink was then transferred from one glass to another from a standing distance to make foam on the top of the drink. Although the drink had a bitter taste at that time, it was not a drink for common people. The drink was used in royal parties and dinners.
According to the archeologist, the drink made from chocolate beans were also used it rituals because of its scared nature. Due to its high value and less supply, the beans were used as a currency in the barter transactions. They were also given to soldiers as a reward.
Much of the legends and value were added when Aztecs occupied the lands of Mayans. They also associated this with the gift from the gods and human sacrifice. Unlike Mayas, they liked the drink cold and added several other things in the drink.
However, there was one problem with the Aztecs, their lands were not suitable for the tree plantation and the process to prepare the chocolate was very time consuming and laborious. For that reason, slaved labor was utilized and it is believed that slave labor in the chocolate industry exists today.
Columbus and Chocolate:
Europeans however, did not know of this for a long time until the 16th century. Some historians believed that Christopher Columbus was the first European to have encountered chocolate in 1502. A huge amount of chocolate drink was taken to Spain and over time it made to the Spanish courts.
The problem with the taste of the drink was resolved by adding honey and vanilla in the drink. The bitter drink was used as a medicine but the sweeter version of the drink was for special occasions and remained out of the reach of common people.
Chocolate gained so much acceptance in the later years that it was even exempted from the list of items that could break a religious fast. The dark part of this tasty and widely popular expensive product was the increasing slave labor from Africa.
Modern form with Nestle:
With the start of the industrial revolution, several procedures were designed that treated chocolate in multiple forms and reduced its bitterness. Starting from Dutch chemist, Coenraad Van Houten, many people contributed to the chocolate manufacturing, bringing it in the present form. The famous company Nestle was incorporated when a Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter added powdered milk in the chocolate with the help of is neighbor named Henri Nestle.
As discussed earlier that the demand for chocolate has been increasing over the years, there are some concerns about the future price of the product. Due to increasing global warming, it is important to keep the trees cool and introduce diversified harvesting measures. It is estimated that if such steps are not taken then global warming can significantly affect the future supply of the cocoa and hence the price of the product can rise.
Kinds of Chocolate:
In its modern form, there are four kinds of chocolate present.
- Dark Chocolate
- White Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
- Unsweetened Chocolate
Chocolate which is made by cocoa solids is commonly called Dark, Black, Plain, or Sour chocolate. It is called Dark chocolate because of its dark color since it does not has milk and sugar in it but has a higher amount of cocoa solids in it.
It is often believed that dark chocolate is healthier as compared to milk and white chocolate. According to research the consumption of 84% dark chocolate for eight weeks can help reduce the inflammatory biomarkers in the body. It is also believed that consuming 70% dark chocolate can help regulate the immune system of a person.
However, there is a need for further research to ensure impeccable results before trying to treat one’s immune system or inflammatory symptoms by using chocolate because it has a higher amount of caffeine in it too.
Dark chocolate has antioxidants, which helps prevent blood clotting which is a very common cause of heart attacks. According to Medical News, research was carried out in 2015, which states that people with type-2 diabetes who ate 25 grams of chocolate everyday has significantly lower blood pressure as compared to others.
Another study suggests that people who consumed dark chocolate did not show any increased in their cholesterol level. Compounds such as polyphenols and theobromine help lower the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the body.
Is it real chocolate?
As controversial as it is to call White chocolate as “Chocolate” there are many die-hard fans of the product. It is widely debated that white chocolate is not real chocolate because it does not look like chocolate and taste like chocolate. To some extent, it is true because white chocolate does not contain cocoa powder or cocoa solid.
Cocoa beans are harvested from their pods and then they are fermented, dried, roasted, opened, and shelled. The chocolate nib inside those shells is then turned into a paste that is called chocolate liquor. In the next process, the liquor is divided into what we call cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The cocoa solid is then used in the manufacturing of dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Whereas, the cocoa butter is used in the manufacturing of White chocolate.
In its natural form, the cocoa butter does not taste very good, therefore, to make it more taste worthy, milk, sugar, milk fats, and other sweeteners are added. Nestle started producing Galak in 1936 and was sold all around the world. In the later years, Nestle introduced white chocolate bars with almonds. Famous names such as Hershey also introduced their flavors of the white chocolate in the later years.
Since White chocolate does not contain any cocoa powder or cocoa solids, it does not contain any caffeine. The absence of cocoa solids makes them far less effective as compared to dark chocolate but that should not be confused by its demand. White chocolate has significant market potential in Netherland, UK, Italy, Belgium, Poland, etc. it is estimated that the white chocolate market can grow by $1.8 billion in the next five years.
As discussed earlier that Milk chocolate came very late into the scene but it is fairly famous among the chocolate loves. It is different from White Chocolate because of its ingredients and color. Historically the attempt to add milk to the chocolate went unsuccessful but with the invention of powdered milk by Henri Nestle in 1867, the experiment of adding milk to the chocolate came to success with the help of a Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter.
Health Conscious demand:
According to BusinessWire, which is a subsidiary of the famous Berkshire Hathaway company, the global milk chocolate market size is estimated to be around $16.38 billion by the year 2023. The cumulative annual growth rate is estimated to be 5%. The demand for low-calorie milk chocolate has increased over the years due to the increase in the health-conscious customers.
The ingredients of milk chocolate include chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and the most important ingredient powdered or condensed milk. According to the study from the University of Aberdeen that was published in a journal, named Heart states that, those who consume 100g of milk chocolate has a 25% lower chance of getting heart disease as compared to others. The study also says that the risk of getting a heart stroke drops by 11%.
Professor Phyo Myint who is the chair in old age medicine at The University of Aberdeen believes that during their research they found an association between the habitual consumption of chocolate and the reduction of the incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Since we know that the actual increase in demand for milk chocolate is coming from those who are health-conscious people; the milk chocolate does have the components of the dark chocolate with a sweeter taste, which makes it more dynamic.
Unsweetened chocolate is also called bitter chocolate, cooking chocolate, or baking chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate is made by chocolate liquor into chocolate bars or chips. It has 99% chocolate liquor or cocoa solids and has no sugar at all. However, bittersweet chocolate has little sugar added and semisweet has more sugar than the chocolate liquor.
Unsweetened chocolate is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants and help reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The flavanols in cocoa help improve the blood flow to the brain. It is also believed to have anti-aging benefits when it is not heated or fermented. It can also help decrease the danger of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Since it improves the blood flow to the brain tissues, it has significant positive effects on the mental health. It reduces stress levels and improves calmness, hence improve the overall psychological health of a person.
During the production of chocolate, cocoa solids are used to produce black chocolate and milk chocolate. Cocoa solids contain a high amount of caffeine in it. Health services of Columbia state that one ounce of black chocolate contains caffeine as much as a half cup of tea.
As we have learned earlier that dark chocolate has more cocoa solid and no cocoa butter, it has a higher quantity of caffeine as compared to milk chocolate. The quantity of milk, cocoa, and sugar has been defined by the food authorities, therefore, a small bar of chocolate bar that contains 80% cocoa solid will have 21 grams of caffeine. Whereas, a small bar of milk chocolate will have around 9 milligrams of caffeine due to the small quantity of cocoa solid presence.
The core ingredient of chocolate has caffeine in it; therefore, the idea of having a bar of chocolate that is caffeine-free is wrong. However, some chocolates may have a small quantity of caffeine as compared to others.
Since chocolate fans do not consider White chocolate as actual chocolate which is true since it does not have cocoa solids but it does have cocoa butter which comes from the same source. So white chocolate is not chocolate in the strictest sense but it is chocolate and it is caffeine-free due to the absence of cocoa solids.
We learned some of the health benefits of the chocolate but experts believe that consuming chocolate is not harmful to health only if it is consumed in the right quantities. Chocolate contains fats, sugar, and artificial sweeteners, which are not good for health if taken in large quantities. Therefore, balance your diet so that you can enjoy both the taste and the health benefits of the chocolate.