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Bolivia

by Dick Taylor
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Brut   (75%)
Strain Beniano   
Source Bolivia   
Flavor Earthen   
Style Industrial      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
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Length
Impact
Yet another barsmith in the burgeoning American craft chocolate scene.

And add one more to the list that also eschews everything but cocoa & sugar in its spare formulations -- a conceit for a "pure", "natural" product.

Chocolate, of course, is anything but.

Neither highly refined sugar crystals nor malleable cocoa paste exist in nature. The latter amounts to the refuse discarded by monkeys & other predators. A naturally sweet pulp inside cacáo pods attracts them in the first place. It surrounds seeds which are a key ingredient in chocolate. That they spit those seeds out onto the forest floor results essentially in lots of jungle-trash.

Man, a garbivore, then comes along, picks them up like a popper-scooper (or more typically picks the pods off the cacáo tree before the monkey can) & transforms them into chocolate. Basically, rummaging & scavenging in the rainforest... the prequel to dumpster divers in the shopping mall parking lot.

Put another way, consider it a recycling program: rubbish repurposed into one of the greatest inventions -- chocolate.

Wow, what a positive development. Imagine what humanity can do with all the other trash littering the planet.
Appearance   4.5 / 5


Color: topsoil
Surface: bookish filigreed pattern to the mold
Temper: a little 'frosty the bloom-man'
Snap: piercing bullet
Aroma   5.1 / 10
more riverine than the Rio Beni itself; no clues at all to hallmark Bolivian purples (plum, fuchsia, camu camu, Amazon grape [Pourouma cecropiaefolia], etc.)
Mouthfeel   7.3 / 15
Texture: hard...
Melt: ... shards
Flavor   30.6 / 50
unpacks honeyed-choc (nice) -> deteriorates into coffee & then disintegrates into mud / dirt -> twigs & bark -> metallic streak (possible ethyl methionate) across some recessed Oreo® FXs (probable combination of drying/storage issue(s) compounded by a stern roast) -> lead -> recovers somewhat on manioc -> faint apparition (& then only in the aftermath at the periphery) of signature Bolivian fruit appears
Quality   8.9 / 20
Let's face facts: the spare formulation of cocoa mass & cane sugar is easier, has fewer elements to gum up the works, & less elaborate than, say, Milk Chocolate.

Any problems with, to cite but one example, Texture for instance can be blamed on the bean.

But 'free bar-ing' it (i.e., going without the standard make-up kit of added cocoa butter, lecithin, & vanilla) puts the onus squarely on seed selection & craft technique. Neither distinguishes themselves here except in their inadequacies.

Not all Benianos are of equally hi-grade quality. The best can ably tolerate higher cacáo percentages so the 75% in this bar falls well within the acceptable range. These beans apparently fail to make the grade though, admittedly, the processing retards their progress as well.

Color, Aroma (or lack thereof), & Texture give it all away well beforehand. Taste only serves to confirm the obvious: a dead flatliner.

Message to the new cocoa-minimalists: until mastering the learning curve (which includes procurement logistics), some bars could actually use added cocoa butter, lecithin & vanilla like a 911 EMS patient desperately needs a paramedic.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar

Reviewed November 5, 2012

  

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