São Tomé 78

Info Details
Country Italy   
Type Dark   (78%)
Strain Amelonado   
Source São Tomé   
Flavor Naked   
Style Classic      
Time once was when São Tomé crowded the field of "fine chocolate" origins. Part of the standard repertoire where practically every barsmith took a crack at its pod seeds.

Now it feels somewhat left behind in favor of other islands, some with more exotic allure: Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Fiji, Hawai'i, St. Lucia, Tobago, & even Príncipe (right next door to São Tomé).

This then amounts to a return trip. An "oldie but goodie" in line with the question to the Double-Jeopardy answer "via the hot-button roaster of C-AMARO"... or "What, Alex, is Dionne Warwick singing Burt Bacharach's revised hit Do You Know the Way to Såo Tomé?"

Now scat it... ba ba, ba-ba, ba ba ba-ba-ba baaaaaaaa

REDUX REVIEW -- below are segments of C-AMARO's São Tomé 78%, initially released in 2011, followed by a refresher in 2013
Appearance   4 / 5
Color: dark dirt
Surface: scratched pod mold with those only-from-Italy designer swales on the back
Temper: lightly reflective
Snap: a little muffled & cuffed for a 78%
Aroma   7.6 / 10
2013: dense cocoa mud-pie cut by a stick... all the way thru to a crust of dried-mushroom on the bottom of it

2013: lumbers up a full archetypal ST & falls heavier than a 2x4 square on the nares, basically a cocoa log with raisin punch underneath & a smoldering chemical contrail
Mouthfeel   13.4 / 15
Texture: dream cream
Melt: very true / round belly
Flavor   46.1 / 50
2011: chocolate grove with coffee & clove -> mushroom woods in the Aroma linger around the background with some faintly liminal sweetness leaning toward red Synsepalum dulcificum aka "miracle fruit" -> cocoa mass + cocoa butter of some appreciable lactose that creams out on those sensations

2013: forward black cherry chocolate over a charcoal pit -> rising acidity on plum skin & baobab (fab opener) met then curbed with melting butter -> light bitter nut / seed (Ricin-odendron heudelotti aka njangsa) dropping off those ST woods -> dried sweetener (Synsepalum dulcificum again) scraped up from the cupboard shelves -> ends citric (begonia -- nice close)
Quality   17.9 / 20
2011: Strong varietal-to-house style & a bar correctly-tailored to it.

C-AMARO's heavy roasting, which betrays some other origins, comes good here, both for this particular island cacáo & the rather escalated 78% formulation.

As with its unsweetened Ecuador 100, C-AMARO takes the aggressive nature out of these kernels & places their flavor squarely in a core chocolate profile with very close complements (coffee, cloves & wood).

Far from the most expressive São Tomé -- a bit of a flatliner in fact, further reduced by a 75ºC / 167ºF conche job, in keeping with this maker's general mark -- but this in conjunction with the aforementioned Ecuador-100 shows a certain fearlessness in tackling the higher percentages.

Where some labels thrive in the semi-sweet range (Guittard and Cluizel for instance), C-AMARO may be staking its claim to the very darkest of territories & finding its strong suit there.

2013: ST demands meticulous attention, especially at 78%. Most makers downshift to the 60 percentile & let the extra sugar handle the barking compounds. Not one to shy away, Marco of C-AMARO nonetheless reduces the heat while lowering the boom & just knocks it out.

Sure it volleys forth some prickly tannins, enough to alert the taste-buds, before butter intercepts & balms them into stratified flavor... layer upon layer... until that rather unexpected end point: a resurgent acid.

A bar from an origin that never seems to grow old & tiring but yields a subtlety different dimension with each rendering.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar

Reviewed November 22, 2011
Revised October 2, 2013


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