What are the different types of chocolate?

Chocolate is everywhere in our culture, so sometimes we take it for granted. Did you know chocolate comes in various types and varieties, each with its own distinct characteristics? We get questions from our customers all the time about this topic, so we've written this article to help with definitions.

Here are some common chocolate types and varieties:

Milk Chocolate

This is the most widely consumed type of chocolate around the world. It contains milk powder, giving it a creamy and sweet flavour and it should contain between 10% - 40% cocoa solids (also called cocoa mass or cocoa liquor). The typical 5 ingredients of good milk chocolate are: cocoa mass + sugar + milk solids + cocoa butter + lecithin (and sometimes vanilla).

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids and little milk content giving it a richer and more intense flavour compared to milk chocolate. The term "dark chocolate" can refer to both bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate; the cocoa percentage in these can vary, with higher percentages usually indicating a more pronounced cocoa flavour and less sweetness. The typical 4 ingredients of good dark chocolate are: cocoa mass + sugar + cocoa butter + lecithin (and sometimes vanilla).

Semi-sweet Chocolate

This type of dark chocolate contains a moderate amount cocoa solids (between 15% - 34%) and a moderate amount of sugar. It falls between bittersweet chocolate and milk chocolate in terms of sweetness and cocoa content. The typical 4 ingredients of good semi-sweet chocolate are: cocoa mass + sugar + cocoa butter + lecithin (and sometimes vanilla). 

Bittersweet Chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate has a higher cocoa percentage (68% and higher) and less sugar than semi-sweet chocolate. It has a strong, slightly bitter taste and is often used in baking in order to allow the baker or pastry chef to control the amount of added sugar in the recipe. The typical 4 ingredients of good bittersweet chocolate are: cocoa mass + sugar + cocoa butter + lecithin (and sometimes vanilla).

White Chocolate

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder. It has a pale colour and a sweet, creamy taste. Even though it isn't brown like chocolate, white chocolate is legally considered chocolate if the only fat is cocoa butter (at least 20%), which comes from cocoa beans. The typical ingredients of good white chocolate are:  sugar + milk solids + cocoa butter + lecithin (and sometimes vanilla).

Unsweetened Chocolate 

Also known as Baking Chocolate, unsweetened chocolate usually contains very little to no added sugar. It is mostly used for baking purposes and can have between 85% to 100% cocoa mass. Because it is mostly chocolate mass (also called liquor) made from ground cocoa beans, it is very bitter.

Ruby Chocolate

Ruby cocao is a relatively new type of chocolate that has a distinct pink colour and a fruity flavour. It is made from specially selected cocoa beans and is processed using citric acid to arrest the fermenting procces.

Couverture Chocolate

Couverture is a high-quality chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa butter. It is used by chocolatiers for its excellent melting properties and glossy finish when tempered. For something to be legally called "chocolate", the only fat in the ingredients can be cocoa butter. Couverture chocolate contains extra cocoa butter. Read all about couverture chocolate.


Also known as imitation chocolate or confectionery coating, Compound is a type of chocolate substitute commonly used in baking and confectionery production. It is made from a combination of cocoa powder, vegetable fats, and sweeteners, such as sugar or corn syrup. Unlike real chocolate, which is made from cocoa solids and cocoa butter, compound does not contain cocoa butter. Instead, it uses vegetable fats, usually hydrogenated oils, as a substitute. On packaging, Compound can't legally be labelled as chocolate but is instead labelled as "candy", "cocoa flavoured", "chocolate flavoured", or "chocolatey". Read all about compound.

Swiss Chocolate

Swiss chocolate refers to chocolate that is made in Switzerland, known for its long-standing tradition of producing high-quality chocolate. Swiss chocolate is often associated with smoothness and fine craftsmanship.

Belgian Chocolate

As a colonial chocolate-processing superpower, Belgium is renowned for its chocolate-making expertise. Belgian chocolate is defined as a mixture of ingredients that are refined and moulded in Belgium. In 2008, the Belgian Royal Association of the Chocolate, Praline, Biscuits, and Sugar Industry (CHOPRABISCO) developed a Belgian chocolate code to protect the label "Belgian Chocolate".

Single-Origin Chocolate

Single-origin chocolate is made from cocoa beans sourced from a specific region or country, highlighting the unique flavours and characteristics of that particular terroir. Each origin chocolate has its distinct flavour profile, influenced by factors like soil, climate, and cocoa bean variety.

Raw Chocolate

The term "raw chocolate" is not legally-regulated, so right now, the word “raw” is not much more than a marketing term. According to manufacturers, “raw” means “unroasted”, or not exposed to temperatures exceeding 42C. Proponents of raw chocolate claim that it contains higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals compared to processed chocolate. Most chocolate manufacturers consider roasting a "kill step" to get rid of dangerous pathogens, like Salmonella, and a key opportunity to build the flavour profiles of the beans. We do not use raw cocoa and we do not recommend its consumption because of the risk of contamination.


These are just a few examples of the common chocolate types and varieties you can find. The world of chocolate offers a wide range of options to suit different tastes and preferences!

Because we are fine cocoa confectioners, Cococo only uses the best quality couverture chocolate made from sustainably sourced Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa butter and cocoa. Couverture chocolate is real chocolate, the finest quality of chocolate that is made with extra added cocoa butter, which is fat entirely derived from the cocoa bean. 

 Learn more:

Where do cocoa beans grow?

What happens during cocoa fermentation?

From bean to bar: how is chocolate made?