A Coffee Tour: Bologna e Venezia

DSC_0855

Bologna and Venice are both old towns with a wealth of historic culture, but they’re both distinctly different. One a university town full of youth, progressive ideals and a love of food and the other a maritime powerhouse full of beauty, canals and tourists. They wouldn’t be Italian though, without a love of espresso and chocolate and both help to cater to their devotees in different ways. Bologna providing traditional Italian coffeebar culture to its discerning patrons and Venice providing the locals with a very Italian respite from the heavy impressions of non native feet. If you look closely, it’s not too hard to find these hidden gems as you explore the cities history and culture.

Starting in Bologna and getting in late, we arose in the morning to head out for our first introduction to northern Italian coffee.  Continue reading

Manufaktura Czekolady Venezuela Criollo Porcelana 70% 90/100

DSC_0917

Porcelana or white criollo (different from white nacional) grows south west of Lake Maracaibo in the Venezuelan region of Zulia and is considered to be one of the best varieties of cacao. Porcelana beans grow white rather than the purple and brown hues we traditionally associate with cacao beans due to the absence of the flavonoid anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple colour. This absence of anthocyanin is responsible for the lack of bitterness in fine white criollo chocolate, which makes it highly desirable in terms of flavour. This lack of anthocyanin and Porcelana’s ancient heritage come at a cost however, with ancient white criollo strains being susceptible to pests and disease, thankfully though Venezuela has never shyed away from growing vulnerable, low yielding, but flavourful cacao strains. With less than a 1000kg of this Porcelana produced every year it makes every Porcelana bar made a rarity. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Warsaw where Christopher Stypułkowski and Thomas Sienkiewicz turn them into one of Manufaktura’s chocolate bars. Continue reading

Manufaktura Czekolady Nicaragua Nicalizo 70% 89/100

DSC_0916

Grown in the tropical forests of the northern mountains of Nicaragua towards the Honduran border, these beans are a Trinitario-Acriollado variety that has been designated Heirloom cacao number 8 by http://hcpcacao.org/. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Warsaw where Christopher Stypułkowski and Thomas Sienkiewicz turn them into one of Manufaktura’s chocolate bars. Continue reading

Chocolate Tree Madagascar Ambanja 50% Milk 90.5/100

DSC_0022

In the north west of Madagascar is the region of Ambanja, a region responsible for producing some of the fruitiest chocolate that you’re likely to taste. The infamous Sambirano Valley is contained within the region of Ambanja, where Bertil Akesson grows cacao on his 2300 hectare family estate, growing both criollo and trinitario varieties. With an almost unbelievable amount of chocolate awards, this cocoa is well sort after by chocolate makers, with each imparting their own style on the cocoa beans. Once these trinitario beans are harvested they’re shipped to Haddington just east of Edinburgh to Chocolate Tree’s factory where husband and wife team Alastair & Friederike Gower turn these beans into one of Chocolate Tree’s chocolate bars. Continue reading

Manufaktura Czekolady Nicaragua Johe 70% 90.5/100

DSC_0918

These beans, as with most of the quality beans that come out of Nicaragua are from – http://ingemann.com.ni/ 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. Continue reading

Bullion Guatemala Lanquin 70% 88.5/100

DSC_0921

The beans for this bar are supplied by Cacao Verapaz an association who export beans for three smallholder farmers associations who grow cacao around Laguna Lachuá in the Alta Verapaz region of central Guatemala. Once harvested they’re shipped to Sheffield where Max Scotford works to turn them into one of his golden pure bars of a precious substance. Continue reading