The Best ‘Value for Money’ Craft Chocolate Bars

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The world of craft chocolate can be a daunting place, it can be hard to know what you might like and even harder to find it. With origin lists as long as your arm and lists of chocolate makers even longer, it can be difficult to know where to start or where to stop in looking for your perfect chocolate bar. For some that’s part of the pleasure of craft chocolate, the journey of discovering different flavours, different origins and different makers, but it all comes at a cost, one that newcomers to craft chocolate might find difficult to stomach. Fortunately it’s not like looking for a bottle of wine, no matter how loose your purse strings, it’s unlikely you’ll be spending more than £20 for a bar of chocolate and while some bars might seem pricey, there’s often a lot of good reasons to pay more for your chocolate. That said, it’s always nice to feel like you’re getting value for money and with the aim of encouraging all those thinking of dipping their toes in the water, to dive straight in, I’ve compiled a list of bean to bar craft chocolate makers that not only make great chocolate, but offer great value for money too.   Continue reading

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Willie’s Cacao Venezuelan ‘El Blanco’ 36% Raspberries & Cream 86/100

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This bar is made using single origin cocoa butter from Venezuela, with the inclusion of raspberries. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Uffculme, a small town in Devon to Willie’s factory, where using antique machinery Willie begins the process of turning them into one of his delectable single estate cacao bars. Continue reading

Willie’s Cacao Venezuelan Rio Caribe 44% Milk Passion Fruit 85.5/100

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This dark milk bar is made using the same beans in Willie’s Rio Caribe 72% dark bar and 44% dark milk, this time adding some passion fruit. Rio Caribe beans are grown in the north east of Venezuela from in and around a small fishing town to the east of Carupano, the larger and former designation town. Having been rebranded as Rio Caribe after Carupano fell out of favour due to its trinitario heritage, owing to its proximity to Trinidad and Tobago, when compared with its western criollo competition, Rio Caribe has now found favour again in chocolate circles. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Uffculme, a small town in Devon to Willie’s factory, where using antique machinery Willie begins the process of turning them into one of his delectable single estate cacao bars. Continue reading

Willie’s Cacao ‘El Blanco’ Venezuela 00 36% White 85/100

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This bar is made using single origin cocoa butter from Venezuela. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Uffculme, a small town in Devon to Willie’s factory, where using antique machinery Willie begins the process of turning them into one of his delectable single estate cacao bars. Continue reading

Chocolat Chapon Venezuela Chuao 75% 93.5/100

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Formerly the exclusive purchasing right of Amedei, Chuao has been open to other bean to bar producers for a while now. While Domori’s Chuao is grown at Hacienda San Jose, this bar is from the Chuao growing region on the northern coast of Venezeula, part of the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier. Chuao these days is best described as both a variety and a village with some pods having left the village to be produced elsewhere in Venezuela. This cacao comes with a reputation for having won a glutton of awards and so bar makers run a risk with these beans of not living up to their reputation. After sourcing the beans Patrice Chapon begins the process of roasting and preparing the beans at his chocolate workshop, east of Paris in Chelles, before turning them into one of his chocolate bars. Continue reading

Chocolat Chapon Venezuela Porcelana 73% 90.5/100

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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. After sourcing the beans Patrice Chapon begins the process of roasting and preparing the beans at his chocolate workshop, east of Paris in Chelles, before turning them into one of his chocolate bars. Continue reading

Chocolat Chapon Venezuela Macuare Guasare 72% 92/100

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West of Puerto Cabello and east of Maracaibo, Macuare sits on the northern Venezuelan coast by the Parque Nacional Juan Crisotomo Falcon, not far from where Porcelana can be found. Guasare on the other hand sits in the far north west of Venezuela, west of Lake Maracaibo where it grows what’s considered to be the ‘father of all criollos’, although they also grow trinitario there now as well. This bar is made from a blend of these two varieties of rare old white criollos. After sourcing the beans Patrice Chapon begins the process of roasting and preparing the beans at his chocolate workshop, east of Paris in Chelles, before turning them into one of his chocolate bars. Continue reading