Various Bars

by Pump Street
Info Details
Country UK   
Type Semi-Dark   (+ Dark-Milk)
Strain Hybrid   
Source Honduras   (Ecuador; Venezuela; Madagascar)
Flavor Crossover   (into a new as-of-yet undefined category)
Style New School      
A Chocolate Blitz –- 6 reviews in 1. Overall rating & metrics (upper right) reflect a composite average of each bar's individual measures.


How many bakeries receive shout-outs & name checks from the podium during the live broadcast of the Academy Awards, the 2nd most-watched program on the planet?

So far, only one.

Most recipients thank their mother, their spouse, their God, their ego.

But a bakery? How good is that?

Apparently good enough to trump the Oscar itself.

In February 2015 a Brit film-maker felt… well, verklempt over winning that prized gold statuette because, he managed to get out, it entitled him, Wonka-style, to a free donut at Pump Street Bakery.

After sampling this collection here, ah huh, yes, just stick the Oscar somewhere on the mantle over there, please, & pass the chocolate.

This whole bakery-chocolate hook-up makes perfect sense since Chris Brennan of Pump St. takes a personal fascination at the flavors produced by the same yeast / bacteria pair working seperately on wheat & cocoa to a quasi-scientific level of inquiry, embellished by his softer roast / harder conche M.O. Flavor engineering.

The result: daring high-chocolate with creativity employed merely to attain it.

Pump St. stretches people’s expectations & imaginations of what chocolate a) is & b) can become in its various malleable forms. Nothing quirky or twisted about expanding the thresholds either. Quite the opposite: it feels relaxed at a natural pitch. Not necessarily great in each & every case but certifiably original.

Many may boast such claims; far less back them up. Count Pump St. among the precious few.
Appearance   3.7 / 5
Color: pre- hi-def era
Surface: pedestrian
Temper: bright enough to occlude the color(s)
Snap: painfully sensitive
Aroma   8.1 / 10
Ecuador 100%
dried spice & stones tangled up in climbing vines, grape vines & bromeliads
eventually uptakes breaded chocolate soaking up inky blots at the glass bottom of dry Pinot Noir

Venezuela 75%
fleeing fruit recedes into a canvas of spices & tea
lead #2 pencil & eraser
that pre-sirloin quality of portobello mushroom
the intrigue builds…

another wild signature unique to Pump St.
try this on: malted raisin-kraut! (to be expected from a former cattle ranch at the cacáo origin?)
settles some into a more orthodox pose

Madagascar 72%
among the benefits of a multi-bar review: gleaning the commonalities / constituent traits of a barsmith more readily
yet another raisinous-palm production by the Pump
lifts up with time to a drafty sea breeze

Sourdough & Sea Salt
still more novelty from the Pump St.: grilled flowers!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! -> steadies to tea

Rye, Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt
malted milk topped by a cherry cordial drizzled in honeydew melon (beautiful)
Mouthfeel   13.3 / 15
Texture: ranges from lush velvet to micro-exfoliants
Melt: an overcoat
Flavor   45.6 / 50
Ecuador 100%
bread 'n (cocoa) butter lead-in, quite yeasty -> toast with crumbs everywhere -> light cream cheese under translucent roe eggs

Venezuela 75%
indeterminate entrance -> soft nuts & browned butter (cashews / macs / cocoa oil) -> palm branch bitters up lightly into watercress -> faint rear action plum -> smoked tea leaf

sticky resin / drupe quality -> sorghum to amber molasses -> trim caramel -> canned peach -> the sweet musky pulp of chupa chupa -> trace allspice

Madagascar 72%
rapid succession nut (cycad), fruit (the dark berry of dried lantana), then sap (birch tree)… all slowed by honey -> sweet pineapple-marula marmalade -> late butterscotch finger

Sourdough & Sea Salt
cocoa crisps head the parade of flavor -> brown sugar -> honey toffee -> umami point -> a wisp of those florals in the Aroma -> small fruit inlay (tart crisp apple) -> fringe coconut -> malt wafers

Rye, Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt
similar Texture & start as the Sourdough (above) but more breaded / toasted with rye providing a deeper grain to the passages, further enabled by a Milk Chocolate base -> slight lemon rising
Quality   18.9 / 20
Ecuador 100%
Hacienda Limon, Guantupi, Los Rios, Ecuador; Vintage 2013
Everyday flavors, almost straight from the oven at a breakfast deli serving bagels 'n lox round-the-clock yet damn uncommon for a chocolate. Doubly so an unsugared one. So foreign in the sense that it bears virtually no resemblance to the Heirloom III cacáo from which it derives. Indeed, this tastes as if from anywhere / everywhere, created more than crafted, incubated in a lab instead of a ferment pile ala Camino Verde's manipulated starter cultures, in this case inculcating the highly impressionable added cocoa butter (& copious amounts of it) with investigative zeal. After all, Pump Street is a bakery. Ergo naturally it bakes up a yeasty loaf… errrr, bar Less a baker's chocolate & more an experimental compound.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, cocoa butter

Venezuela 75%
Very Venzy but recessive… as though Venezuela faded off the map after the political situation there denudes the country of its resources. Excluding early Mast Bros -- about a thousand bars ago -- nothing from the Patanemo area matches the origin's reputation. The aft-linger however haunts of the promise of what could / should be.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

80%; Batch 5202
From Finca Tres Marias -- a 30 acre parcel enjoying the support of the NGO TechnoServe.
Mimics in some aspect the treacling bars of recent vintage northern Peru. But quite distinct. Off-balanced for sure. Little in the way of baseline cocoa flavor. And almost sickly sweet for an 80%. One of the sweetest at that percentage. Once more a generous butter pad spreads out the sugars, distributes them from concentrating too much.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Madagascar 72%
Just terrific jam, literally & figuratively. Atypical for Madagascar. This too inclines toward fruit concentrates -- an emerging house-style -- instead of the usual bright red tarts for which this island's cacáo gained renown.
Where some of Pump's output verges on the eccentric, even freakish to some, this subtly yet significantly re-interprets an overexposed chocolate destination. Excellence re-defined.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Sourdough & Sea Salt
Almost incomprehensibly good.
The most noble employment of Patenemo cacáo to date (see entry above).
So deft… the additives so considerate, never intruding / interfering in contributing to the holism of the bar which, at its core, abides in chocolate. They synergize Patenemo to exceed itself in ways heretofore unimaginable. A bar embodying brilliance.
Obviously Chris Brennan of Pump St. knows fermentation from his bakery expertise & cacáo's a fermented fruit seed. They shape-shift on one another, essentially to a match, lighting each other up.

A masterwork.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, bread crumbs, sea salt

Rye, Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt
Batch 5102
A mouthful of a title & a taste.
Sweeten up the Guantupí Ecuador 100% (above) substantially (just 60% cacáo-content), add rye 'n wheat crumbs + a dash of sea salt in Milk Choc & it all ramps up Sourdough+. The same superlatives hold here as with the previous bar (immediately above). A few more of these & next year in Hollywood they'll be handing Chris Brennan an Academy Award for best documentary in good taste.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, wheat & rye bread crumbs, sea salt

Reviewed April 10, 2015


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