Chocolaterie A. Morin
Chocolaterie A. Morin is a fourth-generation family-owned chocolate maker based in Donzère in the south of France. They make a range of single origin bars, traditional bars, and covertures for commercial use.
São Tomé Agua Grande 63%
Aroma: Rich chocolate aroma with some grape, lemon and floral aromas like Nacional
Flavor: Very sweet with rich chocolate flavors complemented by a distinct raspberry tanginess. Some slightly lemony and red fruit flavors at the beginning, raspberry jam/syrup, butter, vanilla cake – like dark chocolate cake with vanilla and raspberry filling. Also coffee grounds and some umami notes, almost like a fruity Parmigiano Reggiano, a very rich full flavor. Overall not super complex – the flavors are simple and pleasant, and fade rather than developing.
Recommendation: Recommended. This is a good choice if you like sweeter dark chocolates, and the sweetness works well with the raspberry notes.
Batch info: Expiration date: January 1, 2021
Peru Chanchamayo 63%
Aroma: Fresh-cut wood - cedar, earthy, fruity, a floral aroma like Nacional, overripe fruit, sweet fruit punch and delicate nutty aroma.
Flavor: Extremely sweet. Syrupy fruit flavors with some acidity dominate - cherry and lemon candy. Mild vegetal flavors like celery – but faint. There are hints of pleasant flavors but they are overwhelmed by the sugar – the sweetness and the woody flavors clash, like the sweetness is trying to cover them up. The temper seems a little off; there was a slightly grainy texture.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. It’s good, but not great. The flavors are pleasant but the bar is sweet to the point that it drowns out the actual chocolate flavors and makes them hard to assess.
Batch info: Expiration date: May 8, 2020
Amano is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Orem, Utah. They use vintage equipment to make award-winning chocolate from chocolate growing regions around the world. While I liked a few of their bars, I was not impressed overall and haven't tried more. They add vanilla, which I never like to see in craft chocolate.
Madagascar Sambirano 70%
Aroma: Butter, rich chocolate, red fruit, wood, raisins
Flavor: Sweet, rich and complex. Rich but mellow chocolate flavor with fudge, milk, butter, and caramel notes. A classic but gentle Madagascar juicy red fruit tang fruitiness like syrupy raspberries, grapes, and peaches, along with some interesting notes like lemon and sumac plus dried fruit flavors – raisin, fig jam, dried apple. It’s creamy, like cooked grains and vanilla pudding with a slight starchiness like powdered sugar. The sweet red fruit and creamy flavors dominate. Vanilla comes through. Very nice.
Recommendation: Recommended. This bar is complex enough to be interesting for a dedicated chocophile while also being a crowd pleaser. It’s also a good deal at $8-9 for 3 oz. bar.
Batch info: Lot no: 315039, Best by October 2020
Aroma: Rich chocolate: brownie, chocolate buttercream, cocoa shells, a soft subtle earthiness, like celery or a root cellar, fallen leaves, raisins, raspberries, a peppery note
Flavor: The main flavors are mellow chocolate, like hot cocoa or chocolate buttercream frosting, and creamy fruity vanilla candy with a slight starchiness – like raspberry marshmallows. There is a very slight bitterness, like toasted almonds. A slight musty, mold-like flavor appears for a while and fades. There are also some soft fruit and earthy flavors – orange creamsicle, a hint of orange rind, hazelnuts, concord grape juice, red fruit, subdued wood, juniper, and mushroom, and a very soft red wine flavor at the end.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. The musty flavor detracts somewhat from the overall experience but is faint enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the pleasant chocolate, vanilla, and red fruit flavors.
Batch info: Lot no: 315040, Best by February 2021
Venezuela Cuyaga Village 70%
Aroma: red wine, root cellar, ash
Flavor: starchy, ash, bitter, marshmallow, vanilla, store bought frosting, some pleasant fruit flavors - raspberry, astringent, a weird vegetal bitterness, licorice, herbal
Recommendation: Not recommended. The flavors of the cacao are not particularly complex and have some unpleasant starchiness, bitterness, and burnt flavors
Batch info: Lot no. 315004, best by January 2021
St. Petersburg, Russia
Peru Tocache 75%
Aroma: tannic, dusty, minerals
Flavor: A bit astringent. Underdeveloped, little complexity. Soft cinnamon notes and some slight acidity and fruitiness but the astringency detracts significantly.
Recommendation: Not recommended. While it is somewhat typical of the cinnamon/green astringent flavors that you sometimes find in Peruvian cacao this is not a good example. There was maybe potential to bring out tangy and fruity notes in these beans, but the overall taste experience is unpleasant and there are much better Peru bars available.
Batch info: Produced January 10, 2019; expires January 10, 2020
Tasted: November 2019
Askinosie makes a range of single-origin bars with direct trade cocoa and shares the profits with farmers. They also make drinking chocolate, baking chocolate, cocoa powder, inclusion bars, and fun treats like s'mores bark and chocolate covered malt balls. The bars I have tried so far have a distinct bold, rustic style and earthy flavor.
Aroma: Cocoa powder, mineral soil, damp soil
Flavor: Mineral soil and earthy flavors dominate, including peanuts/peanut skins, fermented grains, graham cracker, a slight tanginess and a little bit of fruitiness – they say strawberry, which seems right. Also some pleasant mellow flavors; cocoa powder and chocolate pudding.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. I found this bar unusual in its earthy/mineral/grassy flavors. I think there are better Tanzania bars available, especially Dandelion, Monsoon, and LetterPress. However, if you have had other Askinosie bars and enjoyed them, you will probably like this one.
Batch info: Batch no. 080720
Ecuador San Jose del Tambo 70%
Aroma: Fruity and floral - grapes, hyacinth, violet, prune, plus rich earthy cocoa and a papery aroma
Flavor: A distinct Nacional-type combination of a deep, slightly bitter roasted cocoa flavor and earthy flavors (dry leaves) with high delicate floral/fruit notes – violet, grape, pineapple, hyacinth. Rustic, roasted cocoa flavors dominates, complemented by the softer fruity notes. Also peanuts, prunes, red wine, port or some sweet spirit, dry soil, some starchy flavors like cocoa powder and biscuits.
Recommendation: Recommended. The flavors are less refined, so if you like this style of chocolate you will enjoy this bar. However, the earth flavors dominate and it’s harder to taste the fruity and floral flavors, so if you like those aspects of Ecuadorian chocolate I would try a different brand.
Batch info: Enjoy by February 1, 2020
Ecuador Zamora Amazonia 72%
Aroma: Sweet and floral plus savory earthy notes, grape, raisin, lemon, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, molasses
Flavor: A moment of vanilla and chocolate pudding creaminess, then rustic, earthy, and roasted flavors - dark toast, pecans, peanuts, coffee, walnut/oak leaf tannins, mushrooms, like camembert, soil/muddy overtones. Some sourness near the end, like slightly underripe red fruit.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. Askinosie has a unique style that is worth trying, and perhaps reflects the real character of these beans. However, the flavors aren’t very distinct; everything tastes a little muddy.
Batch info: Looks like date was accidentally not printed
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Atypic makes single origin and inclusion bars with cocoa from islands in the South Pacific. They also make fun spreads, cookies, hot chocolate mixes, and holiday treats.
Solomon Islands 70%
Aroma: dusty earth
Flavor: seeds. Roasted soybeans, natural peanut butter, sunflower butter. Cocoa powder, chocolate cookies, chocolate teddy grahams. A little creaminess, a little starchiness. A little red fruit.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. Clearly made with good beans, but overall, quite sweet and not very rich - little of the smooth flavor and textural notes of macadamia nuts, heavy cream, or cocoa butter that help round out chocolate flavors. Slightly granular texture.
Batch info: Best before November 2021
Ecuador Esmeraldas 76%
Flavor: Earthy, wood, some red fruit, floral, fermented fruit – like slightly fermented juice from sour blueberries. Some starchiness. Pleasant, but not particularly intense or complex.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. I have had Ecuador bars very similar to this before, and while I think this bar is well-made, I don’t think this is the finest cacao Ecuador has to offer – which can be really incredible. It;’s not bad, but I would get the Ecuador bars from Goodnow Farms, Stonegrindz, or Creo instead.
Bolivia Alto Beni 80%
Aroma: raisin, toasty, dark caramel, molasses
Flavor: a tiny bit fruity – pear, toasty, rich and satisfying, nothing bad but not particularly intense.
Recommendation: Recommended. Pleasant, if quite mild.
Batch info: Batch 28, Enjoy by November 4, 2020
Colombia Sierra Nevada 72%
Aroma: buttery, licorice, astringency (slight)
Flavor: dates, noticeable but not excessive dryness
Recommendation: Recommended. Pleasant but very mild.
Batch info: Batch no. 41; Enjoy by January 12, 2021
Peru Ucayali 70%
Aroma: Some savory aromas – leather and perhaps soy sauce; dried red fruit.
Flavor: Nice overall. Interesting ferment. Brown fruit – fig – and a little red fruit. Sweet with a pleasant acidity – lemon, pineapple. Brownie. A little starchiness and a slightly grainy texture.
Recommendation: Recommended. The texture could be smoother but overall it’s good; nice fruity flavors.
Batch info: Batch no. 02882; Best by January 2021