USA, Costa Rica, 72%
This bar might be a rarity. It’s not on Cao’s website so I’m not sure how many other bars they make. (They do make a lot of other chocolate tablets and confections.) Either way it’s an interesting bar with an unusual profile of strong flavors. I enjoy bars that tend to have a weird nature to them habitually. Either that or they’re super sweet. Go figure.
The bar had a nice even look to it though the score lines aren’t too deep. This made the snap pretty hard so a knife might be the thing to use if you want to divide into smaller pieces.
It smells like green peppers, so that’s a start. Normally I don’t care for green peppers (there are very few occasions where I choose them. Maybe if I’m removing them.) but I don’t mind the smell of them here. It is a strong aroma though. That, combined with smells of sappy and resinous fruits, gives you a unique start.
The flavor of the bar has a base of instant espresso powder. There’s this a chalky or charcoal-esque smell to that stuff that I don’t find in regular coffee. (I’m not a big coffee drinker though so perhaps that’s more common that I think.) The other side of this is a lot of “plant life”. Like the aroma it’s this mix of sweet resins, candied fruit and herbs. Coniferous saps, neroli and thyme.
This chocolate does best with a bit of warm-up time. The melt is almost oily so chewing it broke it down too fast, melting it in your mouth gives you a lot more time to turn it over in your mind. The aftertaste has a bitterness to it that’s very similar to chicory or chinotto. The bar is only 72% Costa Rican beans but the finish feels closer to an 80%: no sugar is leftover on your tongue.
As a whole it’s not a balanced bar with equal amounts of intrigue and sweet but it does have a strong personality that doesn’t pander. Fans of syrupy bitters rejoice.
Being the son of a chocolatier Chris has always enjoyed talking about chocolate as much as he loves eating it. He’s an artist and designer as well as a co-founder of the Chocolate Codex.