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

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

Pump Street Bakery Ecuador Hacienda Limon 75% 87/100

DSC_0025

From central Ecuador inland from the coast in Los Rios, Hacienda Limon grows Nacional Arriba cacao beans and uses traditional harvesting techniques to process their beans after harvest. You can read more about the farm on Pump Street Bakery’s website http://www.pumpstreetbakery.com/chocolate/ecuador. Once processed these beans are shipped to the small Suffolk coastal town of Orford for turning into one of Pump Street’s single origin chocolate bars. A bakery may seem like a strange place to be producing chocolate bars, but if you’ve ever tasted their single origin Ecuadorian milk pain au chocolat, you’ll appreciate that Pump Street’s passion for and dedication to baking transfers just as well to chocolate making, as it does to producing wonderful baked goods. Continue reading