Chocolate and Love Panama 80% 83/100

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From a set of small family farms growing for the COCABO Coop in north east Panama founded in 1952, this chocolate is a mix of trinitario and criollo varieties, which undergo an 8 day ferment and a 5 day drying process which includes manual selection. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Switzerland to be turned into chocolate bars for ‘Chocolate and Love’.

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I’ve not tried any chocolate from Panama before and I was excited to see what this origin had to offer, with the coffee from this origin being some of the best I’ve tasted. Famous for importing Geisha coffee seeds to be grown at high altitude in Panama to great success, I was interested to see how imported cocoa would grow under Panama’s terroir. With nothing really in the way of expectations I set out to find out if complex florals and transparent fruit notes might apply to cocoa. Opening the bar there’s a simple but consistent appearance here, which I’ve come to expect from more industrial/professional processing. Breaking off a piece the aroma is light but holds some complexity with some floral top notes in the background. To taste the mouthfeel begins well with a long smooth even melt that’s heavy and acts as a great base for the flavour, which begins with notes of coffee and sweet orange. There’s a subtle complexity here, which includes light florals with hazelnuts, cream and bergamot before a rounded vanilla, flavours that are somewhat familiar to me in terms of Panamanian coffee. The difference here is that they lack clarity, refinement and dimension, providing only a glimpse of terroir rather than an exhibition of it. There’s poor length and while balance is good, it’s because the bar lacks depth or dimension, it’s somewhat timid in its display of flavour. In general this bar feels overly processed, with flavour taking a backseat to smooth texture, vanilla led balance and accessibility, still it’s an interesting display of potential for an origin that rarely makes it into the craft chocolate world. Their tasting notes offer the best description of this bar, as it is indeed very smooth and mild for a bar that’s 80% cocoa.

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla pods (all certified organic)
(Cacao from our Fairtrade partner Cocabo in Panama. Cane sugar from our Fairtrade partners Asocace in Paraguay and Apoya in Costa Rica. Bourbon vanilla from our Fairtrade partners Komam and Cooppvm in Madagascar.)

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Earthy mid brown
Texture: Smooth, dry
Mould: 6 x 4 simple squares
Snap: Crisp, thick
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Milk chocolate, coffee, sweet orange, honeysuckle, white florals
Quality: Complex, light

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Smooth, glossy, creamy
Quality: Consistent, very smooth, heavy

Acidity 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Sweet orange
Quality: Light, soft


Sweetness 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 6
Notes: Honeysuckle, orange blossom
Quality: Light, floral

Flavour 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Coffee, sweet orange, cream, hazelnut, bergamot, vanilla
Quality: Subtly complex

Length 7/10

Flavours lack length and feel somewhat hollow, while missing the end of the round, the only thing that extends in length is a creaminess

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: hazelnut, vanilla, cream
Quality: Touches of hazelnut and vanilla fill the end of this bar, while doused in cream before fading away cleanly

Balance 9/10

Very little is required to balance out this predominantly creamy bar, strong structure provides strong backbone

Overall 8/10

Bar’s depth is limited to its creaminess and it lacks dimension of flavour, complexity is well balanced and strong structure stays resolute, but expression seems as indicative of processing as it does of terroir

Chocolate and Love’s Tasting Notes: This pleasingly high-percentage chocolate is full bodied yet mild, decadent and incredibly smooth with hints of nuts and an extraordinary chocolate flavour, ideal for the chocolate purist. We challenge you to find a smoother, less bitter, 80% chocolate bar.

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