Willie’s Cacao Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72 89.5/100


Rio Caribe is grown in the north east of Venezuela from in and around a small fishing town to the east of Carupano, the larger and former designation town. Having been rebranded as Rio Caribe after Carupano fell out of favour due to its trinitario heritage, owing to its proximity to Trinidad and Tobago, when compared with its western criollo competition, Rio Caribe has now found favour again in chocolate circles. These now favourable beans once grown are shipped to Uffculme, a small town in Devon to Willie’s factory, where using antique machinery Willie begins the process of turning them into one of his delectable single estate cacao bars. Using only raw cane sugar and adding only a small amount of additional cacao butter Willie likes to keep things fairly simple, intending to bring out the subtle and individual flavours of each of his beans.


I have actually tried this bar before, but it was a long time ago. More recently I have had the fortune of trying Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé’s Rio Caribe offering though and so it gives me something to compare it too. I’m always surprised by Rio Caribe’s lack of acidity and fruitiness given its trinitario heritage, I tend to expect something similar to Carenero, but then the Rio Caribe’s nuts and savoury darkness bring me back to reality. Opening the bar up, I’m immediately hit with coffee and nut aromas that clear up any confusion. To taste it’s pretty similar, Turkish coffee and praline with some darker fruit notes on the back end. This bar is almost typical Willie’s cacao, it feels like a refined and rich cacao that has had its elegant nature removed in the name of flavour. A cacao which had the possibility to be refined, but instead is a wild expression of bold flavour, a flavour accurate to its terroir, of caramel, cocoa and nuts, just bigger and bolder. This bar more than anything else reminds me of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s personality, lots of character and flavour, without confining structure.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Dark brown
Texture: Very smooth, malt
Mould: Willie’s cocoa pod square block mould
Snap: Very crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Matte sheen, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Toasted nuts, red skin peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, dark roast coffee, peru balsam Quality: Honest

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Smooth, set honey
Quality: Rich, bold

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Raisin, tart red/black berry
Quality: Wild, punctuating, rounded

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Caramel, praline
Quality: Balancing, developed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Praline, roasted nuts, Turkish coffee, raisin, blackcurrant
Quality: Deep, bold

Length 9/10

Core flavours stay for long periods, others dart by and flash in and out. Sporadic, but long and full

Finish 9/10

Notes: Praline, cocoa
Quality: Acidity disappears before the finish, where nuts and caramel linger to leave praline and cocoa on the palate

Balance 8.5/10

Bar is very complementary and all attributes come together to make the chocolate better, but bar is wilder than it is balanced, sweetness holds the bar together, but acidity has a mind of its own, even with a medium/strong structure

Overall 9/10

Bar has depth and dimension with a good degree of complexity, while complementary it is a bit wild and unbalanced, expression is a mixture of signature chocolatiership and terroir


Willie’s Tasting Notes: Complex notes of nuts and coffee




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