Founded: 1996
Headquarters: Genova, Italy
Style: Neo-Modern
Characteristics: ‘Low impact processing’ is more about what Domori doesn’t do than what he does do. He doesn’t roast strong. He doesn’t conche too long. He doesn’t use a lot of vanilla or lecithin either (if any). That may sound lazy but it makes for chocolate that’s true & honest, placing the burden on deeper understanding of cacáo genetics, selection & handling, generating pure flavor usually tweaked for a pronounced single note, whether alcohol or fruit for example, often against a background of cashew-cream. Like Capriani… with a nod to modernists whose ardor for minimalism mellows thru an innate desire for warmth – artfully spare & straightforwardly luxurious.
Ferment: generally shallow
Roast: low ‘n slow
Conche: medium short
Impact: The Magister Ludi of chocolate (Master of the Game).

In 2008 coffeemaker Illy purchased 80% of Domori, raising questions about a company owned by completely different people buying a trademark, then restructuring management. What happens to the creative force that built it?

While Hershey’s acquired Scharffen Berger, followed by Dagoba, with little interruption, those are frankly of lesser stature; much of their personnel have been retained; & Hershey’s allows each division a measure of autonomy. To date, Scharffen-Berger has deteriorated but not disintegrated.

Gianluca Franzoni (aka ‘Mack Domori’) is of a whole other breed. Cacáo Shaman / Scientist… moody, intense, challenging, brilliant, EdVenturous; a leading light who set a new standard dissecting varietals with power & finesse, developing an acuity for splitting hairs in distinguishing between Fine & Extra-Fine Cacáo thru the investigation of intrinsic genetic values. Described in the Domori Codice, each varietal carries different & exclusive sensory / flavor traits. In fact, Domori takes a stand against the rising chorus shouting out that all seeds are the same; that the only difference spelling quality lies in post-harvest production; & that all things being equal, any distinctions result from terroir. He’s resolute that certain cacáo seeds are simply greater than others, echoed in the C-spot’s3rd Law of Chocodynamics. Truly showing the way back into the origins that gave proof to his motto Cacáo Cult, he voyaged farther than just about anyone thru the jungle maze (the ‘jungle’ metaphorically located at Hacienda San José in Venezuela where he & the Franceschi family enjoyed a rich collaboration) to push the boundaries that even natives envy & respect (calling him ‘Hidalgo’).

Enthusiasts put their trust in him to personally deliver the contents inside so whenever he printed the ‘Domori’ label on the package, it meant excellence &, admittedly, varying degrees of it because the cavil against Domori is consistency. But in a world of cookie-cutter uniformity, artisanship might be measured in the variable slots, the slight inconsistencies that spell difference while still delivering excellence.

If Illy maintains Mack’s original embrace of those liberating differences, the ambiguities that open onto insight, instead of just a viewing them as bugs to be fixed by standardization AND builds-in consistency… then it’ll preserve the sensory properties Domori helped define in the new era chocolate & continue to produce greatness deserving the loyalty of chocomanes the world over.

They’ve a shot at it if for no other reason than Mack remains with the label, serving in a capacity dedicated to sourcing & selection.

Remember, it’s in the genes.

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