by Dick Taylor
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Brut   (75%)
Strain Beniano   
Source Bolivia   
Flavor Earthen   
Style Industrial      
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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