80% Belize

by Middlebury Chocolates
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Brut   (80%; Batch #00349)
Strain Criollo   (group)
Source Belize   (Toledo District; Moho River Valley)
Flavor Crossover   
Style Rustic      
Fresh picked from a pricker bush, now with thorns removed in the new & improved editions.

REDUX REVIEW -- below are segments of Middlebury's Belize 80%, initially released in 2013, followed by refreshers in 2014 & then again in 2015.

The 3rd time's not quite the charm but, at least in the tradition of the Hippocratic Oath, it does no harm.
Appearance   4.3 / 5
Color: slightly opaque pewter-crimson
Surface: very minor release mark + adhesions
Temper: formerly self-absorbed, now glistening
Snap: on pitch; beautiful petro-buffed edge
Aroma   7.9 / 10
both the flower (Humulus lupulus) & the verb (hops right out of a sweating ferment box)
cause for concern further raised by big wood (sapodilla) + yeasts
generally fresh save for cotton-tobacco swab &, strangely, an airborne Chuao-level dried blueberry cocoa-butter

greater restraint
Earthen & cocoa

stiff hardwood swamp… BMX vulcanized rubber bouncing off the surface -> grass on the edges + thick dried fruit
Mouthfeel   12.2 / 15
Texture: 2013 micro granulated
2014 forgiving
2015 rough
Melt: 2013 gel pulp
2014 true
2015 terrible shredded meat
Flavor   39.5 / 50
passing fruit (which Middlebury describes as 'papaya'... & fair enough, of a dried variety) commingles in baseline cocoa plus, much moreover, heavy wood (first rosewood then sapodilla) against streaking acidity (nance to soursop) -> settles some to assume a raison-ous balsamic quality, then a green leaf olive & vinegar component (rough) -> sweaty leather -> jipijapa / cacti / grapefuit (almost suggestive of Mexican cacáo) -> final stringent swipe (euphemistically characterized as 'lemon' but closer to limestone)

wooded cocoa -> boiled tree sap & resin -> thick mineralized paste of something beige (dried squash-like) -> hyper sweet zone (concentrated sapote sugar)

instant fruit (red raisin) on chocolate -> goes dirty & stalls -> silver soot -> light molashes (molasses + ashes) -> jerk chocolate -> malted cocoa mix
Quality   14.7 / 20
Far different from the regional gold standard -- IxCacao's (fka Cyrila's) 80% fruit bomb -- owing to a different estate & perhaps tree stock.

Too tannic; bristles with splinters. the C-spot® has usually been a big fan of sapodilla wood ferment boxes, especially rendered into a Milk Choc. This however too abrasive / prickly; the flavor tags stick to each other uncooperatively.

Warrants a warmer roast & more oxidation on the conch. Coconut palm sugar compromises the center passages with an unusual coloration for the origin & contributes generally to the combative nature of this bar.

Moreover, either the pulp characteristics go wanting for this cocoa sourced from Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) in Belize &/or the ferment cycles inadequately.

Though an improvement from post-harvest problems that MMC bravely acknowledged in the past, this displays the downside of economies of scale. As it expands, MMC wrestles with attention to detail to produce quality results. In the olden days when it started out as just Cotton Tree Lodge with much smaller piles, personal care could be tasted & felt, similar to barsmiths who batched in their kitchen apartments using the crudest implements but netted flavorsome chocolates. Once they upgrade to a commercial space & equipment, the output often turns to just products & units sold.

With time, expect better outcomes. Perhaps in the case of the cacáo presented here, the ferment wood has yet to seal / cure.

Also relatively new to the scene, Andrew Jackson & family at Middlebury are assiduously learning the ropes in a time-honored fashion.

Credit him & them... their technique surpasses Mast Bros & Dick Taylor who also took recent shipments of this seed lot from the same supplier.

Improved posture. A real potent stick-back, literally & figuratively. Swapping out coconut palm sugar for more conventional cane sugar solves one issue while exacerbating another. A cleaner burning sweetener for sure, cane magnifies the underlying challenges facing MMC, perhaps biased somewhat by the inclusion of sea salt which lends it own minerality.

Still, for the 80% class from such a prone vintage, Middlebury takes a significant step forward.


Wood-roasted & the cleanest formulation of Middlebury's 3 Belize releases so far.

Just no great rise though, as these apparently work off an allotment that pre-dates Maya Mountain's improved harvests which this past weekend attained it a rare & truly legitimate heirloom designation (Heirloom VII) .

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, coconut palm sugar (2013) / cane sugar (2014), sea salt / cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter (2015)

Reviewed July 1, 2013
Revised January 22, 2014
Refreshed January 12, 2015


Pin It on Pinterest