This month’s box is the result of long and careful planning. We have two new makers to introduce you to. We’ve been working with for many months and we are delighted to finally give you a taste of these bars.
First and foremost we are ecstatic to bring you a bar from Islington’s own craft chocolate maker Damson. As a lifelong chocolate lover, prolific chocoblogger and Cocoa Runners founding team member, there only was one chocolate topped mountain left for Dom Ramsey – to start making his own bars. And boy was Damson (his brand) worth the wait. Dom’s factory is a just a stone’s throw from our office, up in Angel. If you are ever passing by, make sure you pop to say hello and stock up on his bars. Here you can also see (and buy from) one of Cocoa Runners’ Craft Chocolate Galleries.
The rich milk gives the chocolate a creamy texture and unusual taste. The beans have a slightly green but floral note that gives the bar a herbal undertone with a hint of vanilla. The the bar’s sweetness is balanced by the sea salt that give an edge and brings out the grassy flavours in the beans.
Damson has used Brazilian beans from the Fazenda Camboa farm in Bahia. Owned and run by two brothers, it is the largest organic cacao farm in Bahia, Brazil.
The smooth dark has a deeply fruity profile, bursting with prunes, raisins and dark fruits. Strong roasted flavours develop, moving towards a creamy but slightly savoury finish. We found this to be an intriguing and many-layered dark chocolate.
Now going to the other side of the world we’ve the epitome of a smokey bar, our first made with cacao from the Solomon Isles and crafted in New Zealand by Solomons Gold. We first met with Clive over a year ago when he let us taste some early prototypes – and for the last year we’ve been waiting to share the fruits of his team’s work.
This the first bar we’ve brought over from a Kiwi maker (watch this space for more). Not only this, but it’s also the first bar in our Library using beans from the Solomon Isles.
This is a seriously smokey-tasting dark chocolate bar. The initial aroma of wood smoke gives way to wooded hints of tobacco, rough leather and saddle soap. The strong flavours give the bar an almost savoury profile. The bar is not bitter or harsh, but the strong flavours give the chocolate an intensity comparable to a much higher percentage dark bar.
A really unique bar, its distinctive taste is divisive but still a must try for any adventurous craft chocolate aficionado.
We’ve also been waiting to bring you this “better than Fairtrade” organic bar from Chocolat Madagascar. Over 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa, but little is made there. Neil Kelsall and Chocolate Madagascar for the last decade or more have been seeking to redress this by growing the cacao and crafting their bars locally.
This smooth dark chocolate is simply wrapped but bursting with subtle flavours. The bar has a slightly peppery aroma, however once tasted, the flavour develops into hints of forest fruits and raisins. Alongside this, we detected a mild spice and flavour notes of balsamic vinegar.
Compare it to their classic dark chocolate and taste the difference that different agricultural practices can have.
Finally we’re delighted to bring you the latest bar from Sabrina and Andres of Ara, their Agua Fina bar, sourced with beans from Puerto Cabello in their home country of Venezuela. Ara means Macaw in French, and the couple are dedicated to protecting this rare bird with the help of their chocolate!
The chocolate has an almost floral aroma, and the initial flavour notes we put as somewhere between lemon curd and salted caramel – a truly indulgent treat. Despite this initial hit of sweetness, the bar has a slightly smoky and astringent finish, with hints of coffee.