French Broad Chocolate is named after the river that flows through Asheville, North Carolina, where the company is based. From humble beginnings making chocolate in their kitchen to making over 50 tons per year, founders Dan and Jael Rattigan realized their dream of making bean-to-bar chocolate. They make a range of single origin bars as well as truffles, drinking chocolate, baking chips, and brownies.
Aroma: overripe fruit, overripe flowers, hammy, cedar
Flavor: butter, overripe bananas, cherry, some soft woody tannin near the end, prune, red grape, red wine, red wine vinegar, some unripe banana astringency. In the middle there is some fruitiness – juicy red fruit, perhaps pineapple
Batch info: Batch no. 1026, Best by January 31, 2021
Aroma: sweet tangy barbecue sauce and grilled meat, ketchup, cloves, overripe fruit, molasses, smoky, rubber, black licorice, dry leaves, brewed coffee, citrus rind
Flavor: Very rich, bold flavors. Dark roasted almonds, grape juice, red wine, barbecue sauce, smoky and savory, chipotle peppers, cedar, prune, a little bit of bright, clean passionfruit sourness, some astringency. Smooth texture.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. I think some people would love this bar. It’s kind of odd, with weirdly distinct barbecue sauce flavors, but they’re not bad barbecue sauce flavors – just unexpected. And, although there is some smokiness, it doesn’t taste burnt or bitter. It could be an interesting addition to a tasting, a unique gift for someone who is really into barbecue, or the perfect addition to a mole or other rich savory sauce that calls for chocolate
Batch info: Batch no. 1005, Best by November 28, 2020
Aroma: dried cherry, cranberry, chocolate covered cherry, wood
Flavor: a full, rich flavor. Dark fruit notes - cranberry, dried cherry; a bright lemon tartness. finishes with a slightly nutty, heavy cream richness: lemon cream with a little bit of an almost peppery zing.
Recommendation: Highly recommended! A great example of cacao from a less common origin. If you like the tangy flavors of Madagascar cacao, you will definitely love this bar.
Batch info: Batch 1063; Best by June 2021
Costa Rica 80%
Aroma: Toasty, nut husks, wood
Flavor: Rich and deep; dark and smooth but just a little bit bitter – like espresso with cream. Coffee, brownie, maybe wood. Dark toasted almonds, mellow nutty cocoa butter. A little bit of earthy/ muddiness. Not super complex, but pleasant.
Recommendation: Recommended. This perhaps isn’t my favorite flavor profile, but I think they handled these beans beautifully, and there’s a lot to like. It’s one of the best bars I’ve had with Costa Rican beans, and if you like darker flavors – espresso/dark roast kind of thing – then I definitely recommended it. The high percentage also gives it great texture and richess.
Batch info: Batch 1113; Best by April 2022
Aroma: a slightly funky fermented fruit aroma, with a note of rubber
Flavor: It’s quite sweet, and the sugar takes away somewhat from the richness and depth of the beans. Still, interesting notes of dark chocolate covered cherry, chocolate lava cake, dark brownie, toast, molasses, vanilla pudding, green apple, grape, port wine/raisin, prune? A little goat cheese tanginess. Some starchy-sweetness like a marshmallow. A slightly fermenty funk. Very slight damp leaves/earth flavor.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. Good, though not my favorite Nicaragua bar, nor my favorite from French Broad. I liked William Marx’s Nicaragua Tenor 85% and French Broad India better.
Batch info: Batch 28; Best by June 11, 2022