The Laura dark milk bar was launched April 2016 to celebrate Tobago Estate Chocolate’s 10th Anniversary. The response was fantastic that Duane decided to make a new batch in January 2017. We’re delighted to bring you this limited edition chocolate bar. We were intrigued to find out more about the background of this creamy rich chocolate bar, and find out more about the Laura behind the bar. When we spoke to Duane, he told us “The name ‘Laura’ comes from my grandmother Laura Henrietta Dove a very strong figure for me growing up as a boy in Tobago”.

After several years living and working in Europe within the Food & Beverage Industry, Tobagan born Duane saw the need to rejuvenate the Cocoa Industry on the island. Tobago has in the past made significant contributions to Trinidad and Tobago’s cocoa production and is one of the major crops still grown throughout Tobago. Duane takes the cocoa for his bars exclusively from his family’s plantation, which is planted with Trinitario fine flavour cocoa.  He crafts the bars in France, working with his long time friend, partner and fellow chocolate maker, Francois Pralus.

This bar has a unique, amber like appearance. It’s caramel hue hints and the flavours to be found within the bar itself. This is an extremely buttery bar which releases caramel notes from the very first bite. This supremely rich bar is the epitome of indulgence, and has a wonderfully smooth, luscious finish.

 

Having grown up on the island of Tobago where his family had a small cocoa estate, Duane Dove always aspired to extend his family’s enterprise one step further and make his own chocolate from the cocoa beans he helped grow. Growing up, he went on to study Culinary Arts in Canada, then Wine and Spirits in Stockholm where he graduated as a Sommelier.

His culinary passions translate into his chocolate too. He’s written a book on chocolate and rum, and whilst being no food snob, loves pairing his chocolate with a glass of Australian Shiraz or other full-bodied wines from Northern Italy.

Duane got the idea of establishing his own cocoa estate in 2003 and consequentially returned to Tobago to find the land he would need. But the process of producing a chocolate bar from the beans he found – what he endearingly calls getting from ‘bean to belly’ – was harder than expected. Waging a war on a bamboo forest, Duane led an army of ‘cocoa soldiers’ to transform the land into a three star cocoa estate. Staggeringly, it then took ‘5 years, 150people, 1600 days and 56000 hours’ to make his very first chocolate bar.

For Duane, quality is the very top of his priorities. After deciding from day one that he wanted to create the very best artisan chocolate, he collaborated with friend and chocolatier Francois Pralus who is not only a chocolate expert, but understood the hard work needed to craft truly amazing bars from single origins and estates. All the beans used for Tobago’s bars are sourced from Duane’s own cocoa estate in Roxborough, Tobago and aren’t blended with those from any other farms. What results is chocolate made only from the best Trinitario beans.

Made with Trinitario cocoa, this bar has a characteristic fruitiness and hints of blackberries and strawberries. Thanks to its high cocoa butter percentage, it has a clean snap and glossy smooth surface. It is milky and sweet but also intriguingly musty, with secondary flavour notes of brambles, leather and tobacco.

 

We’ve traveled through five continents, 60 countries and tried over 5,000 chocolate bars to find the very best artisan chocolate and deliver it to you. This box is our edit of the finest milk chocolate bars from around the world.

This collection brings you Tobago Estate’s “Laura” bar, the dark milk chocolate that was launched in April 2016 to celebrate Tobago Estate Chocolate’s 10th Anniversary. The bar is named after the founder’s grandmother, a “very strong figure” for Duane growing up in Tobago.

Next we have a dark milk chocolate from Chocolat Madagascar, made with 50% cacao. It is rich, creamy, and with subtle fruity acidity that is typical of the cacao that grows in Madagascar.

From Bonnat is an Indonesian dark milk chocolate. Sweet and rich with hints of caramel, this is a buttery bar made by one of France’s oldest chocolate making families.

Finally we have a wonderful dark milk from Bertil Akesson. This bar is a 55% crafted from beans sourced from Bertil’s Fazenda Sempre Firme in Bahia, Brazil.

Indulge yourself with these decadent milk bars from four of the world’s best craft chocolate makers.

INSIDE THE MILK CHOCOLATE BOX

Vintage and Beans header

One of the great pleasures of single estate chocolate is the way that different makers and farmer can coax out so many flavours from their beans. It’s the antithesis of mass produced chocolate where the aim is – to be kind – uniformity and sameness. Single estate is all capturing the essence of the bean. It’s about craft and art.

But it has to start with the bean. From the soil conditions and climate to the fermentation, drying and roasting processes; every small difference will subtly affect a bar’s final taste. The craft makers are determined to showcase the unique flavour notes of each harvest’s beans, rather than masking the differences with artificial flavourings. These little inconsistencies are one of the great things about small batch chocolate: no two batches, even of the same bar, will ever taste exactly the same.

To demonstrate these differences in taste we’ve curated a Vintage and Beans box. This collection lets you discover Cocoa Runners’ first two vintage bars. Both 70% bars are made exclusively from Trinitario beans produced on the Roxborough Estate, Tobago by Duane Dove. Harvested from the same single estate, fermented and dried in the same facilities – and then crafted to the same recipe in the same factory and in the same machines. Both have won awards galore. Yet they taste very different.

A single year’s difference has a huge impact on the taste of these two bars. 2014 is smooth and rich with malted, almost biscuity notes – we detected molasses with just a small hint of tobacco. 2015 is still smooth and rich, the initial flavour is far sharper and sweeter and we think is more citrusy before giving way to dusky, earthy notes. Just like wine (and cheese), you can taste the “terroir” and you can also enjoy the subtleties of different harvests

Having grown up on a small cocoa estate on Tobago, Duane Dove always aspired to make his own chocolate from the cocoa beans he helped grow. Duane got the idea of establishing his own cocoa estate in 2003. But the process of producing a chocolate bar from the beans he found – what he endearingly calls getting from ‘bean to belly’ – was harder than expected. Nevertheless, Duane persevered. Staggeringly, it took ‘5 years, 150 people, 1600 days and 56000 hours’ to make his very first chocolate bar.

For Duane, quality is the very top of his priorities. After deciding from day one that he wanted to create the very best artisan chocolate, he collaborated with friend and chocolatier Francois Pralus who is not only a chocolate expert, but understood the hard work needed to produce the very best chocolate. With these two bars, we can’t help but feel Duane’s incredible hard work really is paying off.

So in this box we’ve picked two very different bars made from the same Madagascan beans from Bertil Akesson’s plantation and his 2014 harvest. Both are amazing. Both have won awards galore. Both have distinct similarities. But they are also very, very different in the way they bring out the beans’ flavours.

The first is Bertil’s own signature Madagascan bar, crafted in France. Bertil is one of the true heroes of the bean to bar market; over the last decade he pioneered the direct sale of his single estate beans to newly emerging chocolate makers. This bar has much more of the typical rich and fruity taste of a great Madagascan bar.

The second, from Icelandic maker Omnom, has a balance between acidity and jammy notes that you would expect from Madagascan beans. However, we detect a slight sharpness with hints of cherry instead of the more familiar sweet red berry notes. These more unusual notes reflect the maker’s originality, also apparent in the bar’s stunning packaging. Omonom is Iceland’s first small batch artisan chocolate maker, and has one of the quirkiest chocolate making spaces we know of – a converted petrol station.

The Vintages and Beans Collection

Vintages and Beans

Make Your Purchase

 

Unfortunately this bar is no longer available in our Library. Please see below for four bars that we think you will enjoy.

Since 1884, the Morin family have been making chocolate in the village of Donzere, situated in the South of France. The company is now run by the Franck Morin, great grandson of the Founder, Andre. Franck is a true small batch, craft chocolate artisan.  The factory continues to use many original machines (including a beautiful longtitudinal conche)  and is content to stay very focused (they only have ten employees).  Franck prides himself on sourcing local, and often home grown, ingredients such as almonds, hazelnuts and Morello cherries.  At the same time he is an avid bean hunter – sourcing beans from sources his beans from multiple locations including Mexico, Trinidad, Tobago, Ecuador, São Tomé and Principé, Madagascar, Venezuela, Burma and (for this bar) Domica

Biting into this dark chocolate bar, you will be amazed at the range of flavours you are met with. Creamy and with a sweet finish it will take you on a taste journey through sharp citrus notes, hints of red wine and finally deep fruity tones. This bar will delight those who love a fruity punch.

 

There are many parallels between great chocolate and great wine.  For both you need great ingredients – the finest grapes or the finest beans.  For both, you need craftsmanship and time.  The end result are tastes and sensations that inspire, enthuse and tantalize.

From the start of Cocoa Runners we’ve been keen to learn from the wine industry.  We’ve held joint tastings (and indeed were doing one at Bath with Wine Gang today and another with Decanter next weekend).  We’ve invited wine luminaries to “curate” a selection of their favourite bars – most recently Joanna Simon and Decanter Magazine, and we have more exciting collaborations to come.

And with Corney and Barrow we’ve now taken this one step further.  With the support of Rebecca Palmer and her buying team we’ve matched six wines to six chocolates in two unique collections: a four bar, four bottle hamper and a two bar, two bottle hamper. Creating these collections was a real joy, not least as – to quote Rebecca – “more often than not the best matches were the least expected”!

Perfect for sharing with friends, as gifts or simply for indulging yourself, we hope you will enjoy these two collections as much as we do!

You can view the two collections here.

It’s one thing to say that quality wine can only be produced from quality grapes and similarly with for incredible chocolate you need incredible beans, but it is quite another to take the time and develop the skill to actually create such incredible chocolates and wines..

Once the cocoa beans have been harvested farmers must then ferment and dry the beans, further developing the chocolate flavour. Unlike wine, chocolate is rarely made in the same country the beans are grown in. Once fermented and dried, the beans are sent to craft makers all over the world. These small batch chocolate makers then roast, winnow, grind and conch the beans before tempering and molding the chocolate into bars. With each step the maker draws out the bean’s flavour profile, subtly altering and enhancing it to craft unique and delicious chocolate bars.

With wine everything starts in the vineyard, you need great grapes to make great wine. And then each harvest, called a vintage, is unique and its fruit needs to be handled differently. The grapes need to be picked at just the right moment. As with cacao, the grapes too need to be fermented. And then, depending on the style – for example white, red, sparkling, fortified etc. – they can be pressed, macerated, aged in barrel and blended before finally being put into a bottle. Throughout all these stages, art and science meld as the winemaker transforms this humble grape into unique and delicious wines.

When it comes to wine, most people are familiar with the concepts of vintage and terroir (the region the wine comes from). Most people would find it strange indeed to buy a bottle that didn’t specify, not just a country of origin (e.g. France), but also a region (such as Bordeaux or Cotes du Rhone).

In chocolate this idea has yet to reach the mainstream. At Cocoa Runners we pride ourselves that all our craft chocolate bars are single origin – or a recognised blend of cacaos (such as Fruition’s Dominican and Peruvian blend). One of the most remarkable examples of ‘terroir’ in chocolate is Marou. Samuel and Vincent, the French founders source all their cocoa beans, and make their bars in Vietnam. They have effectively divided the country into regions of ‘terroir’ each of which provides the beans for one of their dark bars. Simply tasting and comparing pieces their Dong Nai and Ba Ria is enough to show the huge impact bean origin has on taste.

Again with wine, most people will be able to tell you not simply whether they prefer red or white, but whether they favour Pinot Noir or Merlot. Cacao strains are far harder than grape varieties. The trees are naturally promiscuous, interbreeding very easily so that a single tree can have 6 or 7 different genetic strands with pods and beans of several different varieties.

This is an area of huge debate and research, with people going to huge lengths to assure genetic purity. Pascal Wirth and Niklaus Blumer of Idillio for instance genetically tests his beans. In the case of Original Beans’ Beni Wild Harvest, or Cacaosuyo’s Piura Select, the remote, isolation of the cacao crop helps to assure their ‘purity’. On the whole, we think there are many other factors than can influence a bar’s taste without delving into the complexities of cacao varietals and debates around ‘heirloom cacaos’. At the same time, if you compare the taste of  of Bonnat’s Madagascar Dark with its Madagascar Criollo the difference between various cacao strands is immediately apparent.

Another familiar point of reference when buying one is vintage. Every year, the unique conditions around every harvest subtly alter the profile of the grapes, making the wines some harvests (indicated by the vintage) far better or worse than others. Chocolate vintages is a concept that only starting to be explored by makers and growers, such as Duane Dove of the Roxborough Estate in Tobago. In most regions where cacao is grown, there are two harvests a year – one in the wet season one in the dry season (in some countries, such as Hawaii, the number of harvests is even higher) – which adds another layer of complexity.

As chocolate makers continue to innovate and experiment in their quest for better bars, new beans and even more exciting flavours we look forward to seeing what they do next!

The ultimate introduction to the world of craft chocolate.

This gift box will transform any chocolate lover into a true connoisseur, giving a tour of the intricacies of craft chocolate. The gift box contains three tiers of single estate dark, milk and inclusion & white chocolate bars.  It delivers a comprehensive and delicious tasting tour of all that the world of single estate chocolate has to offer, while sharing tips and tricks for how to get the most out of chocolate tasting along the way.

A fantastic gift the whole family can explore and taste together.

INSIDE THE THREE TIER GIFT

DARK CHOCOLATE TIER

MILK CHOCOLATE TIER

WHITE AND INCLUSIONS TIER

About Morin:

The prestigious Morin family have been making chocolate in France since 1884 and the company is now run by Franck Morin.  In 1958 Franck’s grand-father, André, opened a chocolate factory and started to make bars. Morin source their cocoa beans from a range of places around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, São Tomé and Principé, Madagascar, Venezuela and Jamaica.

About the bar:

In a small town of Nkog-Ekogo in the Lekié department of Centre Province in Cameroon, the original plantation has been running for over 50 years, with the great-grandparents of the current producer having cultivated Forastero cacao. But since 20 years ago, younger generations have started running new plantations with others varieties (including Trinitario). In the recent years, the co-operatives harvesting the cacao have raised the issue of the slow demise of the Forastero bean.

Tasting notes:

This limited edition milk chocolate is creamy and nutty, with a rich cocoa intensity. The milk chocolate melts on the tongue easily and cleanly, signature of Morin.

About Morin:

The prestigious Morin family have been making chocolate in France since 1884 and the company is now run by Franck Morin.  In 1958 Franck’s grand-father, André, opened a chocolate factory and started to make bars. Morin source their cocoa beans from a range of places around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, São Tomé and Principé, Madagascar, Venezuela and Jamaica.

About the bar:

The beans are grown in the Santander region in Northern Colombia, and carefully roasted, ground, refined and conched in Morin’s factory in the Rhone region of France.

Tasting notes:

The flavour profile of this bar is foremost chocolatey, with sharp raspberry notes delighting the palate. This chocolate had been an instant hit when we first tried it. The texture is creamy, signature of Morin, with a little bit of puckering sensation in the mouth.

About Morin:

The prestigious Morin family have been making chocolate in France since 1884 and the company is now run by Franck Morin.  In 1958 Franck’s grand-father, André, opened a chocolate factory and started to make bars. Morin source their cocoa beans from a range of places around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, São Tomé and Principé, Madagascar, Venezuela and Jamaica.

About the bar:

The cacao of this bar has been sourced from the Guémon region of the Ivory Coast.

Tasting notes:

This 100% cacao bar is a surprising one. Its flavour is authentically – in our eyes – peanut butter, with a creamy smooth texture and mouthfeel. What’s even more incredible about this 100% is that it feels much sweeter than one might expect from a 100%!