Taking a scientific approach to chocolate making, Fresco sources beans from some of the world's best origins - the Sambirano Valley (Madagascar), Marañon (Peru), Polochic Valley (Guatemala), Chuao (Venezuela), and Öko Caribe (Domincan Republic) and combines different roasts and conche times to bring out different flavor profiles from the same beans. Fresco is one of the only makers that offer the same beans, at the same percentage, processed in different ways, so you can try, for example, 68% Ghanaian beans with a light roast and a subtle conche or with a medium roast and medium conche.
Guatemala Polochic 70% Dark Roast Long Conche, Recipe 252
Aroma: Vanilla, cocoa powder
Flavor: Nutty, cocoa butter richness, flavor really expands as it melts into brown sugar, molasses, prunes, raisins, dried apples
Recommendation: Recommended! We really enjoyed this bar, as well as the other versions of this origin. The medium roast was the overall favorite, but this was delicious as well and fun to compare.
Guatemala Polochic 70% Light Roast Long Conche, Recipe 250
Aroma: soft aroma with spice notes
Flavor: Delicate fruity, creamy, freshness – lemon ice cream, blackberry, raspberry jam, dried plums, vanilla, a little bit floral, naturally sweet. Also notes of wood, but no bitterness or astringency. The light roast is evident; the chocolate is reminiscent of cacao nibs (reminds me of some excellent fruity ones I had in Belize).
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Beautiful, complex flavor, no bitterness, astringency, or defects. I’ve already ordered it again as a Christmas gift.
Batch info: Batch 20-368; Best by October 2022
Guatemala Polochic 70% Medium Roast Long Conche, Recipe 251
Aroma: rich chocolate
Flavor: Complex flavor with excellent richness: vanilla whipped cream, blackberries, shortbread/biscuits. Hazelnut, heavy cream, ganache. Some deep red fruit, soft but rich, like blackberry jam, prunes, dates. Also a pastry note like the golden brown exterior of a donut. A faint hint of a damp earth/mushroom flavor. Incredible texture.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Marvelous silky texture and wonderfully complex flavor.
Batch info: Recipe 251; Batch 20-310; Best by February 2022
Guatemala Polochic Valley 100% Light Roast Long Conche Recipe 234
Review Coming Soon
Ghana 100% Light Roast Subtle Conche Recipe 235
Aroma: dry; some tanginess when warmed
Flavor: Some astringency, some bitterness but not excessive, very slightly acidic. A hint of peanut butter and green botanical flavors; damp earth. Great texture.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. What’s so fun about Fresco is that you can try many different iterations of the same cacao, knowing that you’ll like some more than others. In this case, the light roast and subtle conche left me with an impression of underdeveloped flavor – I’d like to try a version with a medium roast and longer conche. If you are looking for a chocolate that more directly reflects the raw cacao, however, you might love it! It would also be a good addition to a 100% tasting line up to showcase the range of possible flavors.
Batch info: 20-346; Best by May 2022
Madagascar 214: Light Roast Medium Conche 74%
Aroma: soft cocoa aroma
Flavor: Slight astringent/green flavors, probably from light roast. slight starchy/creaminess, very faint red fruit, lingering bitterness, like grapefruit. Overall kind of bland. Not unpleasant but not much complexity and the flavors are indistinct. It was three months away from the sell by date- depending on how much time they gave it, it may have gotten stale.
Recommendation: Not recommended. It wasn’t bad, per se, just bland, especially compared to the bright red fruit flavors typical of Madagascar beans. Get Dick Taylor, Dandelion, or Ritual’s Madagascar bars or Valrhona’s Manjari instead.
Batch info: 214-17-185, bar #228, best by February 2020