Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; Lot #3/4/9ZA)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Papua New Guinea   (Morobe Province)
Flavor Twang   
Style retro-American      
A barsmith recently offered its latest release, gratis, were only the C-spot™ to revise a prior review of one of its other bars.

Our response: if any factual errors can be pointed out in a review, please furnish supporting information & we’d be happy re-evaluate. That, of course, is the only ethical & responsible action to take. Otherwise, we stand by the review as published. The invitation also stands since nothing has been forthcoming yet from the maker.

Besides, after reminding the company of the incalculable sums purchasing 90%+ of the goods covered on this site (which helps maintain objectivity), from all around the world (plus shipping costs), including those of its own label, do you think we do this for free chocolate?

Nonetheless the brand expects a bow down & bend over.

Some egos require the attention of cheerleaders. For those chocoheads that equates to being friended by bloggers waving pom-poms: ‘one of the cool things about this job is all the free chocolate... ROTBLOL.’ (‘B’ for belly).

And many can ill-afford to spare any.

Fearless readers, feel free to eavesdrop, Murdoch-style (or Google, Apple, U.S. gov + scores of intel cyber security firms) on a conversation between a C-spot™ editor & a chocolate maven.

Maven: I like our millennial class of American chocolate makers.

the C-spot™: Yeah, they’re showin’ strong, aren’t they.

Maven: They’re really coming into their own.

the C-spot™: But struggling for the most part. Ya know who just hired a pastry chef for bonbons because that’s where the profit margins really are since bars alone won’t cut it.

Maven: I know; well, that’s the nature of the business & the market. They’re artists; they have to scrape together whatever they can to get by.

the C-spot™: Struggling artists at that.

Maven: Yes, & we have to keep them going.

the C-spot™: You mean -- reading between the lines -- the inference being ‘we have to keep them starving’?

Maven: That’s the price paid.

Ah, the ongoing party that’s the free market, a wonderful invisible hand that stirs the punch bowl that should be for everybody, rich or poor alike.

An apt analogy though: edible creations signed by the sweat of chocolate barsmiths.

Their canvas: tongues everywhere
Their brush kit: roasters, winnowers, refiners, conches, tempering units, vibration tables
Their color palate: primary brown with Earthen hues to compliment & sparkling chromatics to contrast
Their museum to house the works: the taste-memories of humanity

Buy & enjoy good chocolate. It’s expensive because it’s quality. And should the experience fall short of the price, continue to share optimism anyways. If necessary, make it a declaration, a statement from someone – namely, you -- who actively cultivates an 'act as if' state-of-grace which is truly positive denial.

Recognize that it’s possible to be extraordinary most of the time for only a small percentage who’ve kept their upbeat attitude alive after years of hard labor, & learned how to be both master & humble servant... & yet an assertive touchstone for others too.

And, finally, remember to never kiss-up.
Appearance   4.7 / 5
Color: medium brown with magenta cast
Surface: airside -- designer S-curves; front side – only micro-dot holes in an other wise clean mold
Temper: good gloss
Snap: conflicted rebel yell, unsure whether to snarl or just snap
Aroma   5.9 / 10
low peat & vanilla-generated caramel quickly burned off by hi-heat (propane tanks must’ve exploded while drying these beans) -> the almond-likeness of a tiny galip nut escapes the fire
Mouthfeel   12.8 / 15
Texture: middle weight
Melt: consistent
Flavor   38.6 / 50
a gas station pumping flavored battery acid: quick release of citrus abrasion with a pectin abandon runs roughshod over hapless cocoa -> volcanic currants (red, white, & black) combust with moss & tannery leather fueled by petrol motion -> leaden vanilla in the guise of caramel the bridge between the highs & lows -> rides thru to the end with galip in the undertow; gas fumes in the Aroma vaporize for a lasting after-gasp
Quality   15.2 / 20
The art of chocolate... Amano Art Pollard, that is... in the vanguard of the retro-American style. Where fussy Euros hyper-refine cacáo to the point that it tastes sanitized if not sterilized, the retro-Americans keep it closer to reality, or its original state which, frankly, can sometimes be harsh to savor, swallow & stomach.

Bold, up-front, over-the-top with nostrils of the vulgarians flaring in the homeland of eccentricity. The difference between experimental vs. traditional; between risk-filled, bebop & free vs. calculated & tried.

And Papua New Guinea is a loose canon of its own in the cacáo world. Morobe reflects the origin well & perhaps a little more so: vibrant & active as the tectonic plates pulling at the island’s landscape.

The box’s tasting notes list “red grapefruit, lime & blackberry” to further amp the sound of complexity. While differing shades shoot a funnel cloud of colors that alter the forefront, the acidic volatiles issue from a pretty narrow stem -- generalized as currants. Quite bracing & top heavy; little in the way of chocolate foundational support.

Amano elects to process on the lighter side, a decision compelled, at least with roasting, by fire-dried beans back in Morobe. Either that or Amano sprang a gas leak in its Utah studio because over-fermentation alone would be hard-pressed to generate this degree of petrol, what some euphemistically label 'smokey'.

When beans are over-fermented the taste referents used by many professionals include the terms 'meaty' or 'hammy'. Excessively worse fermentation elicits reactions of 'putrid', 'rotten', 'decay', 'decomposition', 'manure', all associated with deteriorating organic matter. In the large class of cacáo's polyphenols, one of them -- the ether-based 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA), a metabolite of Trichlorophenol -- can account for this sensation as it does the cork taint in wine. Periodic turning of the ferment can mitigate it.

Gas belongs to another class carrying a much stronger odor. Particularly its disagreeable sulfur-based thiol compounds that smell & spell d-a-n-g-e-r to humans. In fact, thiols are so repugnant yet effective as an alert system that they're added as an odorant to natural gas (which in its pure form is oorless) to assist in its detection for safety reasons.

In the judgment of specialists with training & degrees in chemical engineering like Dr. J. William Hurst & Ed Seguine, plus decades of direct experience in the field of cacáo, to derive petrol of this magnitude from fermentation is a stretch. Theoretically possible but highly improbable.

To be perfectly clear, no one is accusing Amano of adding flavor, such as Liquid Smoke bar-b-q sauce, to this particular bar. That would go against the company's stated M.O.

The damage committed here lies in all likelihood with culprits on the ground in the tropics.

Now some may find smoked notes in chocolate appealing, especially if produced in a controlled smoke. A distinct minority even take to gas fumes, such as deadbeats whose idea of a cool Friday night includes sitting in their car with the engine running idly & the garage door closed to enjoy some asphyxiation.

Word that these beans were sun-dried therefore leads to suspicions that they were laid out to dry on an apron beneath a gasoline pump at a local filling station in PNG where the cocoa lipids can absorb the vapors.

In any event, Amano pays the price in what it costs to add vanilla to ground this bar & reinforce its thin base -- without which it'd keel over as it almost does anyways. Piquant to say the least. Even the generous butter cut hardly balms the acids.

In the process, Art creates a mock-Madagascar, the site of his acclaimed bar from there, & feminizes the oft-macho PNG, tricking him out into a woman who gets lit & smokes around a NASCAR track. A savvy move considering that women remain chocolate's core customer.

Does it work?

Does it have to?

With a label bedecked in more awards than a 5-star general appearing before a Congressional committee who looks cowardly by comparison, Amano emblazons every possible accolade but a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on its website... & with justified pride.

And that's fine. Because it'll motivate to keep going.

Grade of incomplete / needs work / unfit for release -- thus spoke The Maven.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter, vanilla; CBS (Cocoa Mass/Butter/Sugar ratio): ~2:4:3

Reviewed August 5, 2011


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