USA, San Andrés, Costa Rica, 80%
There are as many approaches to chocolate as there are makers but one thing, time, is a universal factor. French Broad’s Costa Rican 80% takes a bit of time to open up on the palate but once it does you get a real sense of their process and style.
There’s a blending between a homespun rustic sensibility and a modern more branded approach in this chocolate, both in appearance and in flavor. The texture and the melt are a little silty but this really works to the chocolates favor. At first, to be honest, I wasn’t sure. The bar has a decent roasted aroma, though not strong, and the flavor at first felt a little weak. With that in mind the melt made the whole seem a little unfinished.
However it turned out that what I really was tasting was my expectations. Once the chocolate really began to melt it’s a whole other animal altogether.
What the chocolate lacks in its diversity it more than makes up for with balance and focus. As you’d expect with many 80% bars the central flavors are strong, in this case strong mocha and espresso overtones, without too much sweetness. There is also a mild fruit like acidity which is a little like goji berries or prunes. A graphite like quality gives bitterness and a mild tannic dryness which, combined with the roast, has a green tea like presence.
The texture, once it’s melted, really makes you push the chocolate around your mouth. Though the bar starts so mild it really opens up. It’s playful and it’s curious. The bitter, the sour, the roasted, the tannic and the sandy come together very well.
If you like a bit of heft in your chocolate, or coffee, you’ll find a lot to like here. Though it starts a little introverted it goes to show that, when given the right attention, the shy can flourish.
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.