Made up of Arriba Nacional cacao grown and harvested from a collective of Ecuadorian fine flavour cocoa farmers, Pacari’s chocolate is both grown and manufactured in Ecuador, with the whole tree to bar process taking place in the country of origin. Founded by Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto, Pacari means “nature” in Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andean region, which matches with their ethos of growing native cacao and using minimal processing. Pacari keep the cocoa at low temperatures to maintain the antioxidants and complex flavour profile of the natural cacao while making their chocolate bars. While the bar cannot necessarily be classified as raw due to the temperatures achieved in the fermentation process, this particular bar is unroasted, with the post fermentation beans being stored and processed at low temperatures.
I’ve enjoyed some Ecuadorian cacao to date and I’ve even had the benefit of trying some unroasted cocoa bars to sample. In terms of the arriba cacao, so far I’ve found it to display refined, but somewhat mellow chocolate notes, nothing too powerful or fruity, more in line with caramels and creams, with it having a softer feel. My experiences with unroasted cocoa have given me some insight into the development process that comes from roasting a cocoa bean. So far I’ve found unroasted bars to display white or light flavours, a sort of primary sweetness, which goes nowhere near a dark complex sugar note. While I’ve enjoyed aspects of unroasted cocoa I’ve found some to be a little unstructured and on occasion lacking a developed flavour, here my hope is that this bar remains refined and light, but retains a distinctive form and expression. Opening the bar, the aroma is expressive, there’s lots of floaty notes leaning in a white and grassy direction. The colour is unusually dark, but the aroma and crisp mouthfeel suggest a lack of roasted development. This bar reminds me a lot of a good dry sweet Riesling wine, the flavours are similar, the mouthfeel is similar and the general refined nature of this bar is similar. The notes are in a light direction, which is probably not surprising for a raw or unroasted bar, there’s lemons, white grape and even a touch of under ripe banana with a mix of buttery and light spice tones. What is impressive here and what makes this bar stand out a little, is the overt balance and the strong structure that hold the bar together and give a suitable platform for its light and refined nature. If you’re the type of person to prefer white to red wine or bananas to berries then this might be the refined chocolate bar you’re looking for.
Ingredients: Cacao mass, cane sugar, cacao butter, sunflower lecithin
Colour: Darker brown, medium purpling
Texture: Smooth, polished sandstone, some flake
Mould: 3 x 5 simple squares
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte
Notes: Intense lightly toned cocoa, grassy white grape, lemon
Quality: Light, expressive
Length: Long, firm
Texture: Crisp, dry, smooth
Quality: Consistent, dense, full
Notes: Lemon, white grape
Notes: Lemon sherbet, under ripe banana
Quality: Dimensioned, balancing
Notes: Aniseed, white grape, lemon, oat biscuit, under ripe banana, marzipan
Quality: Refined, light
Flavours build in length, getting longest in the middle, subtly playing second fiddle to the cocoa, lemon acidity and sweetness help to round off the flavours
Notes: Banana, marzipan, dry, clean
Quality: Sweet notes of banana and marzipan fill the end, before a clean dry finish
Bar is overtly balanced, flavours are complementary and attributes work well to produce a refined nature to the balance, light flavours under a fairly strong structure are always likely to balance well.
Bar is not particularly deep, there is some dimension in the sweet notes, complexities are well balanced and strong structure is consistent, expression seems honest of both origin and process, displaying both the cocoa qualities of Ecuador and the white flavours of an unroasted chocolate