Esmeraldas 77%

by Caoni
Info Details
Country Ecuador   
Type Semi-Dark   (77%)
Strain Esmeraldas   (good amt of Criollo)
Source Ecuador   
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Old School      (& true school)
A beautiful bar: clean, lean, understated but finely crafted. No silicon boobs & nose jobs here. We’re talking classic natural beauty. More bluntly, this joint rocks; not head-banger hard, just laid back easy... a swinging bandstand of flavors fronted by Tony Bennett.
Appearance   3.8 / 5
bar shock
Color: dense burnt umber w/ a blush of orange persimmon
Surface: no nonsense molding; perfect thickness & valleys for excellent cleave & portion size; but rashly finished - pocked & pricked
Temper: reflective
Snap: power crack; rough edge w/ pinholes & internal blooming
Aroma   7.9 / 10
quiet though deep scent: fresh Spring earth, lightly smoked tea & tobacco over chocolate persimmon & tangerine; moss & balsam wood backing; lead in the recesses; flat nose on the rubdown
Mouthfeel   12.8 / 15
Texture: light bodied & fluffy
Melt: rapid w/out being hurried
Flavor   47.3 / 50
spices (coriander, mace, cardamom, sassafras, & frankincense) / persimmon stack on chocolate, mulberry & fig leaf below, reinforced by frangipani & nasturtiums -> banana-cherimoya cream -> orange pekoe then green tea -> creams out on Criollo heritage + a puff of tobacco & balsam w/ tracers of wintergreen, German chamomile, & elderflower... everything then re-assembles for a savory jam
Quality   18.2 / 20
After Caoni's other regional origin bars (Manabí and Los Rios) this Esmeraldas seemed destined to replace the title in Linda Ronstadt's cover to the Eagles' "Desperado". Instead, it's the oasis in the Caoni line-up... the chocolate wonderwall, 'baby, ya gonna save me' to borrow from the Gallagher brothers, which is about where Caoni & many in-country manufacturers (Malagasy, Divine, etc.) are at this moment - about 10 years behind but learning fast.

What took the West 4 centuries to develop & refine will no doubt be compressed in but a few short years by indigenous communities producing, processing, & packaging chocolate from start to finish rather than shipping out & economically losing the added-values to their home-grown commodities by way of exporting raw material to the manufacturing North. And this bar's a harbinger of that good to come.

None of the glaring production problems here that plague those other 2 Caoni bars. On the surface a better strain/crop, seemingly a pedigree that pulls a small amount to the acre. And Esmeraldas are often brokered in Columbia which may help account for it avoiding substandard post-harvest practices common to Ecuador. Whatever the cause, the consequence is an excellent effort, a varietal well-suited to Caoni's style.

Where Domori applies a low roast / deep conche to his Esmeraldas, Caoni does just the reverse (for a darker tone with slightly less amplitude), & both to valid effect. And no risky over-fermenting or heavy-handed emulsification. This chocolate speaks for itself & that’s a grand speech indeed. The cacáo smiths at Caoni have put their egos on the side (putz egomaniac chocolatieres: please taste this & LEARN), concentrating their craft into one soft, gentle CHOCOLATE without stupid pranks. Just well thought out & executed... plain and simple.

If you’re looking for big & bold…don’t bother….. ain’t no Hummer with dubs, Jack. More of a Bentley… eternal class all the way.


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