Congo Vanilla Nib

by Theo
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Semi-Dark   (65% cacáo-content with Nibs)
Strain Amazon   (Calabacillo)
Source Congo   (Rwenzori Range; Virunga Natl Park)
Flavor Sugar   
Style Mainstream      
During a speech at the Nat’l Defense Industrial Association's annual Special Operations & Low-Intensity Conflict Symposium, Navy Admiral Eric Olson, then the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, pointed toward a composite satellite image of the world at night. Before September 11, 2001, said Olson, the lit portion of the planet -- the industrialized nations of the global north -- were considered the key areas. Since then 51 other countries, almost all of them in the arc of instability, have taken precedence. "Our strategic focus,” he told the audience, “has shifted largely to the south... certainly within the special operations community, as we deal with the emerging threats from the places where the lights aren't."

A prime exemplar of the admiral's new purview -- Congo, home to the Congo River... the deepest on Earth with depths in excess of 700 feet & trenches as deep as oceans. Because of it, the river causes turbulent waves, bizarre currents, & deadly whirlpools. An apt environment for the goliath tiger fish sporting teeth sharper than steak knives in a country also cut by deep civil strife.

Maybe to compensate for this, chocolate barsmiths tend to shed light on this origin with a little extra of the sugar white stuff. Take Zotter's 68% Kongo or this 65% from Theo.

Such sweetness packs an ulterior motive: it ingratiates itself to consumers outside of Congo in order to pump revenues back into eastern Congo which, in turn, helps make these parts, according to Dhena Bassara, director of a local Congolese co-op, terrorist & militia-proof.

A bar containing cacáo that's sourced from where 'the lights aren't'... & the chocolate peace corps that is Ben Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative Foundation.

Appearance   3.6 / 5

Theo, usually the queen of cosmetic beauty bars, dresses up a schlub
Color: almost Madagascar in its burnt-ornage crush
Surface: welted, belted & unmelted
Temper: murky
Snap: tight 'n heavy as bass 'n snare
Aroma   7.1 / 10
simple 1-2-3 stuff (leather - coconut - wood) made easy by sugar to offset Theo's hallmark firm roast -> peanut butter -> aerates hot cocoa
Mouthfeel   12.4 / 15
Texture: easy Capt. Crunch®
Melt: soft disintegration (some moist Nibs)
Flavor   40.2 / 50
walnut-vanilla brownies -> sweetens to a rather fruitless cane sugar that strains to suggest a bartlett pear until it reveals lychee -> Nibs re-assert the opening frame with a nutty ending (green walnut this time around) + roasted cocoa (verging on burnt) lending a little Cubeb pepper (pungent & bitter from strong turpenes)
Quality   14 / 20
Yet another bar in the modern era that calls attention to vanilla as a added flavoring. Where in the past it formed part of the standard 'pure chocolate' recipe, the neo-Spartans who champion a ban on it can now wake-up & realize that they add the king of additives to virtually every single one of their bars: that spice named 'sugar'.

As foreshadowed in the Aroma, a dual between fire & ice (i.e., roast & sugar).

Theo gives it the house treatment: its trademark dark roast -- seemingly long & strong. It then marshals in copious quantities of sugar as a brightening agent to turn this bar into a 'white out'. Quite a bit of sugar-glee in fact as the progression rushes on. Gladly it finishes off with Nibs -- which front load & backend the flavor notes -- in an attempt to reset this to a more natural pitch & character.

Conflicted & confused, Congo Vanilla Nib doesn't know if it wants to be the heart of darkness out of Africa or just a simpering candy bar at a suburban Whole Foods.

No need to call-in the Special Ops Forces on this one. A bar that sounds wilder than it tastes.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, Nibs, cocoa butter, vanilla; CBS (Cocoa mass / Butter / Sugar ratio): ~3:4:3

Reviewed November 1, 2012


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