Manufaktura Czekolady Nicaragua Johe 70% 90.5/100


These beans, as with most of the quality beans that come out of Nicaragua are from – Ingemann Cacao – where distinct and separate varieties are sold, from Chuno to Nicalizo and the Johe beans that we have here. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Warsaw where Christopher Stypułkowski and Thomas Sienkiewicz turn them into one of Manufaktura’s chocolate bars.


Nicaraguan cacao has some fairly distinct differences, there’s a reason why Ingemann separate out all their varieties and growing regions. My previous experience of the Johe beans was one of blackcurrants and tannins and that somewhat darker profile of Nicaraguan beans. My expectations are limited to my experience here and so I’m expecting something similar, a likelihood of blackcurrant flavours with the potential for a dark and spicy nature and the possibilities of some tannins in the balance. My main hope is that the distinctive nature of these beans is evident in their bar form. Opening the bar, it’s the familiar silver sealed packet of chocolate that once opened reveals another of Manufaktura’s rough aesthetics. What the appearance lacks however is somewhat made up for in the aroma with a set of refined notes of liquorice and blackberry peering through some cocoa tones and a hint of ferment. Placing a piece in my mouth, there’s a unusual mouthfeel, it’s dry and slightly short while being slick and reminiscent of cocoa dusted truffles, but it is in fairness pleasurable and complementary to the flavours in the bar, original, distinctive. To taste this bar reminds me a lot of luxury Christmas puddings or a rich Christmas cake. It opens with ripe blackberries and blackcurrants providing a fruity edge that leads through cocoa and dark sugars towards aged spice and notes of dried sour cherries. In general this bar starts slow and has quite a soft approach, it leads you slowly to its flavours and this in parts feels a bit short, but mostly it’s just mellow in its expression of darker aged fruity notes. Its rich flavours give the bar quite a nice outlook and when you view its attributes as an overview it’s a particularly pleasurable bar. Again for me these Johe beans have produced a particularly distinctive flavour in a chocolate bar, one that’s original and individual, made even clearer by Manufaktura’s almost hands off approach to processing. If at heart you’re a purist and an expression of terroir is particularly important to you then I would highly recommend this bar, it’s clear and honest even if it is a little rough around the edges, best enjoyed with buttered sourdough.

Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Light ridged grain
Unrefined 5×3 blocks
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Refined earthy cocoa, liquorice, blackberry leaf ferment
Quality: Refined, natural, ferment

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even, a little malleable towards the finish
Texture: Dusted truffle, rough, dry, slick
Quality: Consistent, complementary, short, pleasurable, distinctive

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 4
Notes: Blackberry, blackcurrant, sour cherry
Quality: Fruity, soft

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Ripe black fruit, demerara, molasses
Quality: Developed, dark, dimensioned

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Nutty earthy cocoa, blackberry, fermented blackberry leaf, molasses, Christmas cake spice, dried sour cherries
Quality: Subtly complex, rich, distinctive, juicy

Length 8.5/10

Flavours stretch out a fair bit, but are in the end a little short, rounds come slowly from peaks in fruity acidity

Finish 9/10

Notes: Cocoa, blackberry, spice, dried sour cherry
Quality: Cocoa and blackberry notes make their way to the end with an aged spice finish that has peaks of dried sour cherry, leaving a faint residual of aged flavours and dark sugars

Balance 9/10

There isn’t an elegant balance here, but the soft approach of flavours and complementary tones across equalised levels produce a curated feel, robust structure helps to provide masses of stability

Overall 9.5/10

Bar has a small amount of depth, but a decent amount of dimension, complexities are well balanced and structure is positive and consistent, expression seems particularly honest with processing taking a backseat to honest development


Manufaktura Czekolady’s Tasting Notes: Pale, refreshing, Tea flavours, green apple, nutmeg finish


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