Kolumbia; Porcelana; Wenezuela; Ghana

by Chris & Tom / Manufactura Czekolady
Info Details
Country Poland   
Type Brut   (… to Dark & Dark-Milk)
Strain Criollo   (Pajarito; Ocumare; "Mercedes" seed built on Amazon)
Source Colombia   (Venezuela; Ghana)
Flavor Crossover   (Earthen; Spices / Herbs; Fruits / Flowers)
Style Rustic      
A Chocolate Blast –- 4 reviews in 1. Overall rating & metrics (upper right) reflect a composite average of each bar's individual measures.


Einstein knew everything... even the future well after his death. In anticipating the hazards of texting & driving, he said, "any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves."

The same applies to this unorthodox collection from the Polish duo Chris & Tom / Manufactura Czekolady.

Marilyn Einstein: stand back or come close… the shapeshifting hybrid-image depends on POV & distance
Appearance   3.6 / 5
Color: hi-def
Surface: hasty… "feet" flopping over the molding
Temper: wear sunblock
Snap: amped
Aroma   8.1 / 10
raisin-tapenade sauce over a smoked ham stew… myum-myum to that

a store of dried sweeteners (or at least a cupboard's worth) built of soft wood bark
diffuses off & flattens considerably into roasted nuts & grains

beautiful bed of flowers 'n cream

natural caramel, sisal + bristling plant material
Mouthfeel   11.8 / 15
Texture: sandy &/or rubbery
Melt: globules
Flavor   46 / 50
nuts, caraway, rye & mint (ala Pump St.) on a dense cocoa platform -> thin slice of ham sniffed in the Aroma, ditto tapenade -> deteriorates into brut carbon

wax -> then the Aromatics cereal + traditional 5-spice (especially nutmeg / cinnamon, then anise)… keeps it hanging -> gingerbread -> graham cracker

fleeting strawberry blossom transmuted by some bang-on Milk Chocolate of appreciable now strawberry-inflected caramel -> dates & banana-toffee

easy cocoa -> black cherry -> mite violet -> brandy wine -> chocolate cinnamon -> biscuit nougat -> coconut-almond
Quality   17.4 / 20
INGREDIENTS: 85% cocoa mass, 15% sugar
Carbon starving for some add'l sugar. Strikes as unsweetened &, an austere, unevenly handled, even dirty seed-lot from Colombia so the 15% sugar count achieves very little other than catalyzing that overriding mentholation.
Unevolved / uninviting / unappetizing.

INGREDIENTS: 70% cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter
The shade gives it away (very light nearing a "white brown").
Among the spiciest (re: sweet rather than heat) Porcelanas ever. Added cocoa butter initially & momentarily distracts but only very briefly & then this chocolate seasons the fat & pretty much holds it at that.
Yet another grand Porcelana -- a cacáo that rarely comes wrong.

INGREDIENTS: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, milk powder, vanilla
46% cacáo-content
Both sweet & deep. The finest exposition of an Ocumare Milk Chocolate to date. Then again, only a couple have been released; neither Amano's or Duffy's commensurate with this venerable varietal. Chris & Tom really calibrate & tweak to balance the elements that allow Ocumare's traits to shine thru the filter of milk. Indeed they synergize one another unto new heights.

INGREDIENTS: 70% cocoa mass, 30% sugar
Virtual carbon-copy of Chris & Tom / Manufactura Czekolady's inaugural Ghana from 2010-11, the one featuring peach brûlée & violets. This darkens the countenance -- slightly.
Pretty manifold for a Ghanaian cocoa & relatively light too. Tom & Chris finding multiple pockets of flavor from an origin once considered non-complex, even monotone. It covers a fair ranging portion of the spectrum &, in so doing, lacks depth, another oddity for a West African which traditionally resounds to deep cocoa reverberations. Here it stays quite surface level / 2-dimensional.
In conjunction with a few other releases from the continent -- most notably Richart's Côte d'Ivoire -- it points to further tampering of the classic Earth root stock so characteristic of the region, either via breeding programs (the so-called 'Mercedes' super-seed that contains a goulash of strains) or other origins tossed into the Ghana export chain, most notably Cameroon.

Capsule Summary
Early on Chris & Tom, due to sourcing challenges, were beholden to second-rate cacáo like Ecuador's CCN-51. Except for the halting Kolumbia, a dog-mutt cacáo & an anomaly in an otherwise strong portfolio, a few years on & the upgrade continues.
Textures a notch or 2 below world standard, perhaps by design.
All together they show that what used to be a backflush for chocolate in Eastern Europe now rises with their peers in the West as a bastion for artisan craftsmanship.

Reviewed April 13, 2015


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