Zotter Labooko Madagascar 75% 91.5/100

 

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This bar is made using criollo and trinitario cocoa beans from Sambirano Valley in Madagascar supplied via CPCS – Cooperative Premium Cacao Sambirano, a union of 170 small farms. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Bergl in southern Austria, where Josef Zotter turns them into one of his innovative chocolate bars. You can read more about Zotter’s long and varied history here – https://www.zotter.at/en/about-zotter/biography.html Continue reading

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Best of Santorini: Specialty Coffee

 

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Santorini is a popular destination, it’s a small island, as full of tourists as it is of locals, or so it seems. It offers all of life’s luxuries in easy to find places, but for the keener eye some of its best offerings are in the back streets, some of the best offerings are more subtle and there’s far more on this island to go in search of than merely sunsets in Oia. I’ll admit knowing where to find good coffee on this Island isn’t obvious, but in our short time here before Athens, there were a couple of cafes worth mentioning.  Continue reading

Mucho Mexico Carmelo 70% 87.5/100

 

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This bar is made using cocoa beans from the Tabasco region of Mexico. Once harvested these cocoa beans are shipped to Mexico City where Ana and the Mucho company turn them into one of their Mexican chocolate bars.   Continue reading

Mucho Mexico Lavado 70% 88/100

 

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This bar is made using Mexican cocoa beans, which Mucho source from the Chiapas and Tobasco regions of Mexico . Once harvested these cocoa beans are shipped to Mexico City where Ana and the Mucho company turn them into one of their Mexican chocolate bars.

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I’ve tried some regional cocoa from around Mexico, but I’ve always had the feeling that much like Colombia or Peru, the cocoa has the potential to be quite variable over short distances due to their heritage and the biodiverse environment. Most of the cocoa I’ve tried so far has been from around the Chiapas region or the Tobasco region of Mexico, with both exhibiting fairly different qualities. The cocoa from Chiapas tends to exhibit refined and elegant sunny flavours of citrus and florals with tea like qualities, owing to some of its criollo characteristics, whereas the cocoa from the Tobasco region tends to exhibit dried fruit and smokey tobacco and wood notes, more in line with the chillies produced in that region. Mucho source their cocoa direct from farmers in both the Chiapas and Tobasco regions, so I’d expect most of their bars to fall into one of the two categories, but I’m interested to see if there’s some variability between farms in the regions. Opening the packaging I’m presented with a long thin slab with an ornate cocoa pod design mould. Breaking off a piece reveals bright and vibrant sweet aromas of strawberry angel delight and candy floss with some macadamia nut in the finish. Placing a piece in my mouth the chocolate is firm and hard slowly turning to thick caramel textures in the mouth and unrefined molasses. To taste this bar opens up with some of its softer fruit flavours, tayeberry or macerated strawberries that taste soft and with very little acidity, from here the bar becomes more spicy, more roasted and considerably darker. Flavours of Jamaica cake creep in accompanied by dark caramels, muscovado and treacle toffee notes that are darkly sweet. There’s a lingering fruity top note that carries through to provide some contrast, best described as prune that allows for a little more nuance. This is a bar that’s main feature is its dark developed sweetness, bringing you in on a lighter softer beginning. One for those who like the darker side of sugar and like roasted flavours without having the bitterness often associated with them. Best enjoyed with honey toasted wheat, puffed rice, sparkenhoe red Leicester, aged dessert wine or spiced aged rum.

Ingredients: Cacao, sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Darker brown
Texture: Smooth weathered sandstone, light sandiness
Mould: Ornate cocoa pod slab
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Strawberry angle delight, candy floss, macadamia
Quality: Sweet, bright, vibrant

Melt/Mouthfeel 9/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Caramel, molasses
Quality: Firm, hard, rich

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 2
Notes: Tayeberry, macerated strawberries
Quality: Soft, balanced, rounded

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Dark caramel, dark muscovado, treacle toffee
Quality: Developed, dark, roasted

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Tayeberry, Jamaica cake, roasted cocoa, prune, dark caramel, treacle toffee
Quality: Soft, spiced, roasted, dark

Length 8.5/10

Flavours are a little short, getting longest in the middle making slow rounds on peaks of sweet fruit notes

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Treacle toffee
Quality: Flavours fall away towards the end leaving the bar to move towards it’s darker backbone of treacle toffee flavour that lingers after the finish

Balance 8.5/10

Bar has complementary profile and a firm roasted structure that provides anchoring and stability encouraging a firm balance

Overall 9/10

Bar has some depth and some dimension, complexities are balanced and structure is consistent, expression feels honest, but a bit short with processing encouraging development through roast



Mucho’s Tasting Notes:

Mucho Mexico Finca La Rioja 70% 87.5/100

 

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This bar is made using criollo cocoa beans from the Chiapas region in the very south of Mexico. Once harvested these cocoa beans are shipped to Mexico City where Ana and the Mucho company turn them into one of their Mexican chocolate bars.

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I’ve tried some regional cocoa from around Mexico, but I’ve always had the feeling that much like Colombia or Peru, the cocoa has the potential to be quite variable over short distances due to their heritage and the biodiverse environment. Most of the cocoa I’ve tried so far has been from around the Chiapas region or the Tobasco region of Mexico, with both exhibiting fairly different qualities. The cocoa from Chiapas tends to exhibit refined and elegant sunny flavours of citrus and florals with tea like qualities, owing to some of its criollo characteristics, whereas the cocoa from the Tobasco region tends to exhibit dried fruit and smokey tobacco and wood notes, more in line with the chillies produced in that region. Mucho source their cocoa direct from farmers in both the Chiapas and Tobasco regions, so I’d expect most of their bars to fall into one of the two categories, but I’m interested to see if there’s some variability between farms in the regions. This particular cocoa comes from the southern tip of Chiapas and so I’m inclined to expect refined citrus notes in line with my previous experiences, my main hope is that the cocoa distinguishes itself from the Xoconuzco/soconusco varieties that I’ve tried before. Opening the packaging I’m presented with a long thin slab with an ornate cocoa pod design mould. Breaking off a piece reveals some fragrant bitter citrus aromas with notes of honey and white tea. Placing a piece in my mouth the chocolate has a buttery biscuit like texture, it’s a little grainy like a sugary biscuit with a light creaminess about it. To taste this bar is sweet and sunny, citrus fruits mix with sugar and biscuit flavours to make a bittersweet profile that’s easy on the tongue. It reminds me of bergamot tea with honey, those citric qualities mixed with the tannic nature of tea, but balanced by the sweetness of honey. This is a light and refined style of cocoa, that I won’t lie would probably benefit from a smoother mouthfeel and possibly less conching, but it still remains pretty approachable offering a lighter style of cocoa. This is the kind of chocolate best suited to those who prefer the lighter more refined side of things, fans of white and citrus teas. Best enjoyed with brandy snaps, grilled corn, cachaça, coastal white wine or white tea.

Ingredients: Cacao, sugar, cocoa butter

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Lighter milky brown
Texture: Smooth weathered granite, light sandyness
Mould: Ornate cocoa pod slab
Snap: Crisp
Temp/Shine: Glossy matte

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Bergamot, candied citrus, honey, white tea
Quality: Fragrant, lightly acidic, distinctive, little short

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Long
Evenness: Even
Texture: Buttery biscuit, single cream, jaggery
Quality: Firm, little grainy, sugary

Acidity 8.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Bitter orange, lemon, bergamot
Quality: Fruity, light, citric

Sweetness 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Candied citrus, honey, jaggery
Quality: Sunny, light, sugary, rounded

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet, bitter
Notes: Bergamot, oranges, lemons, shortbread, cinnamon tuile, honey, single cream
Quality: Sunny, bittersweet, light, fruity

Length 8.5/10

Flavours get longer, but don’t have an overwhelming length, rounds come slowly from peaks of fruity sweetness

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Bergamot, honey, single cream, biscuit
Quality: Flavours roll into the finish with the citrus notes becoming slightly bitter and astringent, mixed with a light creaminess and sugary biscuit notes leaving a dry bergamot note to linger

Balance 9/10

Bar has a simple balance, complementary profile and lighter structure provide a breezy balance with enough anchoring and stability

Overall 9/10

Bar has a bit of depth, but a touch more dimension, complexities are easily balanced and structure is consistent, expression is honest, but not particularly intense, with processing encouraging but struggling to bring out the individual flavour of these beans.


Mucho’s Tasting Notes:

Best of Krakow: Specialty Coffee Part 2

Café Wesola

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Awaking the next morning we went in search of breakfast again, obviously with a side of great coffee. Arriving at Wesola, a sort of neighbourhood café on a quieter more residential side of town, we stepped in to a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Taking up some seats in the window to watch passers by, we ordered some food from the menu and a Costa Rica Las Lamps to share on chemex from roasters Coffee ProficiencyContinue reading

Ara El Salvador Usulutan 70% 91/100

 

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This bar is made with trinitario cocoa beans from Usulutan in the south east of El Salvador. Once harvested they’re shipped to Paris, where husband and wife team Andres and Sabrina help to turn cacao beans into their colourfully packaged Ara chocolate bars. Bringing with them a wealth of fine dining experience and a stint with Chocolates Franceschi in Venezuela they’re well prepared to make small batch bean to bar chocolate, while putting their own individual stamp on it. Ara’s philosophy revolves around Andres and Sabrina’s commitment to the environment and their desire to use cacao that is grown in harmony with the local ecosystem, furthermore they’re vegan, encouraging a simple approach to cacao production in which only cacao products and cane sugar are used. Continue reading