Finca Tres Marías is a family owned estate with 350 hectares located in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains in the northwest side of Honduras.To gain experience in growing cocoa the Finca Tres Marías team worked in partnership with The Honduran Agricultural Research Foundation (FHIA) who are the country’s most respected agricultural research institute with years of experience in cocoa farming. Within four years the plantation was producing a crop of predominantly Trinitario beans, with some small amounts of Criollo and Forastero. You can read more interesting information about the farm on Pump Street Bakery’s website http://www.pumpstreetbakery.com/chocolate/honduras, once grown and shipped they arrive in the small Suffolk coastal town of Orford, to a bakery for processing into one of Pump Street’s single origin chocolate bars. A bakery may seem like a strange place to be producing chocolate bars, but if you’ve ever tasted their single origin Ecuadorian milk pain au chocolat, you’ll appreciate that Pump Street’s passion for and dedication to baking transfers just as well to chocolate making, as it does to producing wonderful baked goods.
The nearest I’ve come to Honduran chocolate is Honduran coffee, it’s usually but not always a fairly bright acidic coffee often with citrus flavours, though as with all terroirs that’s not always true. Having never tried Honduran chocolate this bar is likely to be a surprise to me, but to be honest it’s always nice to try a new origin. I’ve had a few bars from Pump Street Bakery now though and I’m beginning to notice that their bars tend to have a creamy or buttery nature to them owing to the additional cocoa butter added, they also have a tendency towards being fairly balanced, so I would hope that would continue with this bar. Opening the package and taking out the chocolate bar, I’m reminded as I always am of a waffle popping out of a toaster, such is the proportions of the mould they use, breaking a piece of the glossy chocolate off there’s a noticeable snap and immediate aromas of tobacco and smoke and on further inspection there’s some background complex fruit notes. From here the bar is noticeably sweet, especially for an 80%, if you’d have told me this bar was a 70% I wouldn’t have questioned it, what’s impressive though is that this sweetness is pleasant and rounded and in no way overpowering. The flavours are fruit driven but are soft and subtly complex, as opposed to bold or acidic, which are great and no doubt why others have really enjoyed this bar, but there’s also a light astringency here, which unbalances an otherwise well balanced bar. The astringency also interferes with the quality flavours of the bar and ruins the fruity finish. This isn’t a high tannin astringency, nor is it really textural, it’s a short sharp very dry astringency that appears towards the end of the melt. With that as the exception though the bar is both interesting in terms of terroir and in large parts very enjoyable. I have a feeling that this bar would be quite a flexible ingredient in food and desserts.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter
Colour: Medium brown, light caramel
Texture: Smooth, fudgey
Mould: 4×4 simple well portioned squares
Snap: Very crisp
Notes: Tobacco, smoke, red grapes, cherry, orange
Quality: Earthy, acidic
Texture: Smooth, crème anglais, buttery
Quality: Medium weight, lightly astringent
Notes: Bitter orange, pink grapefruit
Quality: Uplifting, rounded
Notes: Ripe orange, ripe red grape
Quality: Developed, rounded
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Bitter orange, seeded red grapes, ginger
Quality: Subtly complex, soft, bright
Medium length flavours stretch only so far before missing the round due to a background dry astringency
Notes: Sweet ripe fruit, pink grapefruit astringency
Quality: Sweet ripe fruit notes fill the finish of the melt, before the astringency takes over and leaves a dry sensation in the mouth like bitter citrus
Bar is pretty well balanced, attributes are complementary and acidity and sweetness lift the bar, slight astringency throws the bar off from time to time, medium structure could be a touch stronger to maintain stability
Bar has a bit of depth but more in the way of dimension, dimension and complexity is subtle but well balanced, structure is uniform and expression feels honest but marred by a slight astringency with a smokiness hinting at possible issues in drying, processing appears honest
Pump Street Bakery’s Tasting Notes: Distinctly sweet for a high percentage dark bar, this chocolate has hints of smokey molasses and all spice, balanced with subtle fruity tones.