You might not think of the seaside town of Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire as a centre of chocolate excellence, but that’s exactly where chocolate maker Duffy Sheardown produces his award winning range of bars.
At first bite, this is a very earthy bar. But when you let it melt, you’ll discover an altogether fruitier side to this Guatemalan dark chocolate. Below the surface lurks a fruity berry note – rich, ripe blackcurrants and juicy blackberries. Then at the finish just a hint of honey. Truly a bar to savour.
Duffy sources the cocoa beans for his chocolate directly from cocoa farmers and co-operatives, ensuring a higher price for the farmer and a better quality product. The beans used in this bar are the the ‘Criollo’ variety. These particular beans are grown on farms located in the rainy northern region of Guatemala between Honduras and Belize. The trees grow at the entry to the Mayan territories of Petén and along Rio Dulce: the sweet river.
All the farmers who grow these beans are part of the Xoco Project in Guatemala. Since its founding in 2007, this project has worked with farmers who have given 20% – 30% of their land to young cocoa trees. The project provides technical assistance to the farmers for the lifetime of the trees, and helps them to get a fair deal for their beans once they have been harvested.
Alexander Rast –
This has got to be one of my favourite chocolates of all time. But it’s not just me. The results of numerous tastings across a wide number of people is that this chocolate consistently scores among the very highest. A very accessible flavour, very treacley-chocolatey, but with additional fruity notes of prune and some earthy hints, absolutely characteristic of a Guatemala. Very full flavour – also try it for hot chocolate where the results are addictive.
It should be noted (as at least one other reviewer mentions) that the texture isn’t as smooth as some manufacturers. It’s not rough-textured, but it is milled (due to the production process) to a larger particle size than many Continental manufacturers. That’s a process choice; it’s hard to get the same flavour from a smaller particle size for this cacao – mill too fine and the flavour just gets muddy. Nevertheless, I find in tastings that sometimes, a few people in each group can’t really get past the texture. So this wouldn’t be the bar for you if you want something completely smooth and buttery in the mouth. But the majority who really love it overwhelm those who aren’t as fond, and I can confidently say, amongst the strongest recommendations I can make.
Lynette A. –
I find the texture gritty. There are notes of Carmel, a bit of astringency but it does not overpower anything. I don’t know if the powdery texture I get is the sunflower lecithin? I would not buy this again. Nobody in my family or the friends at our tasting liked it. Super fun to visit his factory though.