Cacao Nib Crunch

by Taza
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (80%; Batch 1131)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Dominican Republic   (Conacado Cooperative)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Old School      
One of the deadliest fires in U.S. history claimed almost 500 lives on 11/28/42 at the Cocoanut Grove (note the spelling) – a former speakeasy leftover from the Prohibition Era & Boston’s premiere nightclub at the time.

Originally a garage / warehouse, the building had been converted to a meandering one-and-a-half-story complex of dining rooms, bars, & lounges. This criminal hotspot offered patrons dining & dancing in a South Seas-like "tropical paradise" created by artificial palm trees made of flammable paper & material. Add in heavy cloth draperies, swanky satin canopies suspended from the ceilings, plus a rooftop that could be rolled back in summer for dancing under the stars & the whole place enclosed a tinderbox.

The subsequent investigation found that decorations obscured some of the exit signs, thus preventing partiers from easily locating them.

This bar from Taza in nearby Somerville, MA also showcases a flimsy construction. But rather than going up in a flash of flames, it effectively extinguishes them with organic flavor.
Appearance   3.5 / 5
Color: portentous
Surface: welts & scars
Temper: depressed
Snap: surprisingly strong
Aroma   6.7 / 10
raw cocoa
orchid & tree saps
caramelized candida (yes, candied yeast disease)
Mouthfeel   10.1 / 15
Texture: gruel
Melt: kind of a first: a no-melt wonder… just breaks apart into a mealy glop
Flavor   45.4 / 50
brown sugar -> vanilla -> caramel -> peanut… all in rapid secession
evanescent fruit dapple -> rawish cocoa (seemingly with husks) -> molasses-carob syrup -> unexpected green apple -> rewinds to the top swapping out the brown sugar spice for a fleeting cinnamon-cocoa & almonds instead of peanuts
Quality   17.7 / 20
If Mast Bros define packaging & branding for the new era chocolate, Taza owns the info space. It lets consumers in on the facts, as far as they're known & can be substantiated. Admirable.

By placing so much effort & emphasis on this info-rich approach, the label in some ways substitutes that in lieu of, not wholesale contents per se (rather than entirely empty, their wrappers do contain palatable chocolate), but concentrating on fuller processing & refinement of that content.

Taza further deconstructs the chocolate bar in this Cacao Nibs Crunch. The company builds its rep on coarse grinding, minor refining & no conching at all. This bar takes it one step further by tossing in Nibs into their shrinking equation because they require even less work to process. A precursor perhaps to a future kit that contains a tray divided into one compartment for Nibs & another for sugar, + instructions for consumers to mix them together & just add saliva (preferably in the mouth). In this way, eco-friendly Taza spares the energy grid & saves on its electrical bill.

As is, Cacao Nib Crunch sufficiently aligns sundry components to its minimal processing parameters for a bar that succeeds (excusing the abysmal Texture), & even exceeds expectations both in the range & quality of Flavor. Nothing glam or riveting; very few & only fleeting highs; just well harmonized. Quite tame for 80% (pretty sweet at that) + Nibs (the latter increases overall cacáo weight); doubly so considering the light-handed treatment which extends to the roasting curve.

A Taza worth… well, writing about.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla

Reviewed September 10, 2014


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