Manufaktura Czekolady Ghana 70% 90/100

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These forastero beans are from Ghana on the west African coast, east of neighbouring Cote D’Ivoire. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Warsaw where Christopher Stypułkowski and Thomas Sienkiewicz turn them into one of Manufaktura’s chocolate bars.

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The only chocolate I’ve tried from Ghana so far has been part of bars that use unmarked cocoa, or at its best as cocoa in dark milk bars that feature atypical chocolate flavours. In terms of a 70% bar, with an Academy of Chocolate silver award sticker to go with it, I’m not sure I’ve had anything comparable. My experience with west African cocoa has always been one of earthy archetypal chocolate flavours that generally lacked quality and dimension, I can’t help but feel that this might be an exception to that experience. My best guess is that the chocolate remains earthy, but has some redeeming features, that elevate it to a finer flavour, the kind of flavours you might get from a really great chocolate cake. Opening the bar and removing the chocolate from its near forensically sealed metallic pouch I’d expected – given the effort – that this might have a more refined appearance, but to be honest the bar is pretty rough looking. The chocolate is pretty well tempered, but there’s no smooth edges or fine lines here, its wobbly shaped 5×3 mould looks a little haphazard. Breaking off a piece reveals a better quality of aroma, it’s dark and aged with distinct chocolatey cocoa notes that hint at an intense richness. Placing a piece in my mouth, it’s clear that Manufaktura could probably do with a refiner, the rough grainy texture is a little on the rustic side and suggest that this chocolate might truly be made by hand. The lack of refinement here is surprisingly passable, the texture is pretty pleasurable given the poor quality of the processing. To taste, well it’s a marked contrast, the flavours are a little earthy and rustic I suppose, but they’re rich, deep and distinctive, whatever the bar lacks in presentation it quickly starts making up for in flavour. There’s an unmistakable flavour of bourbon biscuits that lead into an aged rye whiskey, while remaining sweet through the flavours of dark sugars like muscovado. There’s a light mulberry acidity that helps to balance the bar out, giving a slightly lighter tone to the deep, dark, lingering chocolatey flavours. This cocoa is good, its flavour has been well developed and there’s plenty of depth to go round here. The expression is honest, this tastes like it should taste and it’s authentic and by far the best cocoa I’ve tasted from Ghana, but if you’d have told me this bar was made in a pestle & mortar, I would probably have to believe you. Fully recommended as an exploration of origin, providing some great flavour, but hopefully in future years Manufaktura will be able to provide a better textured presentation for this bar. One to enjoy with an open heart and an open mind to the possibilities of Ghanaian cacao.

Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Darker brown
Texture: Lightly flaked fudge
Mould: Unrefined 5×3 blocks
Snap: Very Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Bourbon biscuits, aged dark wood, butterfudge, raw cake mix
Quality: Rich, dark, cakey

Melt/Mouthfeel 8/10

Length: Medium
Evenness: Fairly even
Texture: Grainy, buttery
Quality: Rough, unrefined, cakey

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 2
Notes: Mulberry
Quality: Balancing, uplifting, lightening

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Chocolate fudge, molasses, dark muscovado
Quality: Rich, dark, dimensioned

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Type: Bitter, sweet
Notes: Cocoa, bourbon biscuits, fudge, aged rye bourbon, mulberry
Quality: Rich, distinctive, deep

Length 9.5/10

Flavours are deep and bold with a long length that rounds pleasantly on peaks of acidity and light sweetness

Finish 9/10

Notes: Bourbon biscuit, rye whiskey, mulberries
Quality: Core flavours last from beginning to end filling the finish, which leaves a lingering note of chocolate (bourbon) biscuits

Balance 9/10

Bar leans towards dark sugar flavours and a deep intensity, but manages still to remain fairly balanced, attributes work well to balance each other out and strong structure provides bar with some boundaries

Overall 9/10

Bar has plenty of depth and a good amount of dimension, simple complexities are easily balanced, structure is uniform and expression is distinct and honest, with processing bringing out flavour, but providing little in the way of refinement


Manufaktura Czekolady’s Tasting Notes: Delicate, silky, peanut, caramel

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