73½% Madagascar

by Nathan Miller
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (73.5% cacáo-content)
Strain Blend   
Source Madagascar   (Sambirano Valley)
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style Classic      (neo-)
Perhaps the second challenge for any barsmith to master beyond chocolate-making is branding. Who are you?, as a brand; or what's the brand's identity? How to make a statement that sets one apart in the marketplace…. from selected ingredients, to the mould, & packaging designs, & whether these elements cohere or confuse. For an artisan who simply wants to create great chocolate (which should suffice in-&-of-itself but that's not enough nowadays when consumers conflate 'stuff' with 'goods'), it sure complicates things.

Hence, well-financed startups pay big money to consultants, designers, & PR people. Lacking the funds or the knack in a field of now hundreds careening toward thousands of micro bean-to-bar mongers means never breaking out beyond a regional following, if not their own backyard.

Enter into the fray pastry-chef-turned-barsmith (a recurring career-change in this niche) Nathan Miller with this foray.

Miller founded his chocolate company in Chambersburg, PA. Whether unconsciously or not, his packaging evokes the area's feel & history similar to Brasstown in North Carolina. Chambersburg sat on the frontier then the frontline during the French & Indian War; later it became the only community north of the Mason-Dixon line to be burned by Confederates during the Civil War.

So Miller's wrappers resemble combed cotton chamois, perhaps like those worn in a bygone era. Rural aesthetic to anticipate a rustic bar delivered with all the quaintness of the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish in a horse 'n buggy carriage... which only proves an illusion supported solely by the organic ingredients, & not Miller's execution that is modestly modern.
Appearance   4.5 / 5
Color: medium pinecone brown
Surface: smooth front; air bumps & pin holes out back
Temper: glossier than a super model's lipstick
Snap: high sheer velocity
Aroma   6.7 / 10
fruit woods 'n raisin vines
Mouthfeel   12.6 / 15
Texture: this (New World) side of the Atlantic in the new era chocolate -- butter lite (despite added cocoa butter… hmmmm)
Melt: consistent
Flavor   43.1 / 50
pop sugar intro -> grapefruit loops around apricot segues toward raspberry -> light tobacco undernotes -> golden raisins -> grapefruit resurgence -> star fruit in a crosshatch from earlier raisin
Quality   17 / 20
Refined & classic from the decimal percentage (not 73% but 73.5%) & the subtle flavor (mainlines soft citrus notes manifesting mostly around grapefruit) to the tempering & mouthfeel.

Nathan Miller achieves a modestly unique spin on a Madagascan seed that has witnessed more sprouts in the world of premium chocolate -- practically every barsmith with a shingle pumps one of these out -- than a chia house pet.

Smart move.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Reviewed November 4, 2015 by Rev. Dr. R.M. Peluso


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