Cocoa Atelier Venezuela 70% Carenero Superior 85.5/100

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Named after the northern port town from which they ship, Carenero beans are grown in the Miranda province of Venezuela with some beans coming from growing regions in Barlovento. Growing a mixture of trinitario and criollo varieties, here we have a criollo supplied by the De Loisy family of Chocolaterie de l’Opera fame, who carry an interesting chocolate history all of their own. These beans once grown, shipped and supplied make their way to Dublin, where they find themselves with Cocoa Atelier, Dublin’s infamous chocolate boutique, to be turned into single origin chocolate bars.

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I’ve had the pleasure of trying a few Carenero bars now and in general I had the opinion that they were somewhat acidic for a Venezuelan cacao and that they leaned toward tropical and stonefruit flavours. The last two Careneros that I’ve tried though have been very different, both Rozsavolgyi Csokolade’s and Pump Street Bakery’s bars contained spicy dark raisin and cherry flavours, not exactly the bright and fruity cacao I’d expected. I think this might have had something to do with them both being supplied by Casa Franceschi and I believe both bars were made from trinitario varieties. Here we have a criollo from the same region, from a different bean supplier in Chocolaterie de l’Opera and I suspect this might be a return to the norm of tropical stonefruit flavours, but to be honest I’m left second guessing myself, believing that a criollo would be the fruitier of the cacao that I’ve tried. Finally nothing left, except to try it and find out.

Opening the bar we find quality and simplicity, the bar is a simple square block mould and the aromas are sweet and pleasant, but without a wealth of complexity. On the other hand the bar exhibits the appearance of some strong production values, smooth texture, crisp snap, glossy shine and this follows into the mouthfeel, which has a smooth, glossy and juicy feel to it. To taste the bar exhibits some interesting tropical fruit flavours behind a cocoa base, some of the more caramel natured of the tropical fruits in papaya and physalis. The bar uses great cacao and reliable chocolate making techniques, the beans have been well developed, both appearance and mouthfeel are smooth and glossy and yet something seems missing. While this is a great tasting chocolate bar, somehow it lacks some depth and fullness to the flavour, as enjoyable as that flavour might be. The bar is bright, sweet and fruity, having been well developed and processed, but without revealing the more distinguished qualities that I’ve experienced in other Carenero bars.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Darker brown
Texture: Very smooth, dry
Mould: Thick square block mould
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy, consistent

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Cocoa, mango, papaya
Quality: Sweet

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Medium , soft
Evenness: Speeds up a little
Texture: Glossy, juicy
Quality: Smooth, but quick

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Papaya, physalis
Quality: Bright

Sweetness 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Ripe tropical fruit, cane sugar
Quality: Developed

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Cocoa, papaya, physalis, mandarin, toasted almond
Quality: Balanced

Length 8.5/10

Flavours are bold, long and rounded but feel a little hollow over the length

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Papaya, physalis, mandarin, toasted almond , cocoa
Quality: All flavours last until the end, ending abrubly as the chocolate disappears, leaving a little cocoa on a mainly clean finish.

Balance 8.5/10

Flavours marry well and attributes complement each other, bar is predominantly sweet and bright, but not unbalanced, structure remains fairly light

Overall 8/10

Bar lacks complexity, depth and dimension, while having a little of all three, structure is consistent and beans have been well developed, expression is also indicative of terroir


Cocoa Atelier’s Tasting Notes: Venezuela has produced great treasures of cocoa beans since the 15th century. Universally renowned, the “Carenero Superior” Criollo cocoa bean has specific and exceptional aromatic characteristics. Enjoy the bright, spicy and floral aromas of this single origin chocolate.

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