Once one of the largest cocoa producers in the world, Brazil was devastated by disease in the late 1900's. Over the past decades, farmers, researchers, and chocolate makers have worked hard to restore the industry, and in doing so, developed a bean-to-bar chocolate scene that is attracting international attention and awards.
Brazil Trinitarios Vale Potumujú, Bahía 70%
Aroma: cocoa powder, faint menthol/pine, slight dry earth aroma
Flavor: Very smooth, mellow flavor – almost like milk chocolate. A mild nuttiness, like macadamia nuts. Toasty. Also light fruity notes – grapefruit and cherimoya (custard apple), a slight creamy sourness like fresh goat cheese. A marshmallow note. Texture is nice – good shine and temper with just a slight graininess.
Recommendation: Recommended. This is a really pleasant chocolate, mellow with interesting fruit and nut notes.
Batch info: BDO23820; Exp. July 2021
Vale Potumujú Milk 57%
Aroma: caramel, dry leaves, dry wood
Flavor: Quite sweet; complex caramel notes along with a dry toastiness – toasted nuts with the skin. Also notes of raw sugar, a slight grain/grass flavor, powdered milk, vanilla/floral, and a slight sourness.
Recommendation: Recommended. This is a pleasant milk chocolate bar, with nice complexity – it’s not overwhelmed by sweetness. Thanks again to Juliana for sending these bars!
Batch info: Batch BM19720; Exp. October 2020
Vale Potumujú 70% Orange Zest 0.5%
Aroma: orange, chocolate-orange cookies
Flavor: Pleasant, dark. Some bitterness but not excessive. The orange flavor is very dominant and the nuances of the chocolate are hard to taste under it.
Recommendation: Recommended. If you like chocolate with a distinct, intense orange flavor, you will love this bar. I do think the orange flavor kind of overpowers the flavor of the beans themselves. So, I would also recommend trying their plain bars too, because they make lovely chocolate.
Batch info: Batch no. BL23520; Exp. March 2021
Gallette makes chocolate in São Paulo, Brazil, with cacao from different regions of the country, including interesting varieties like Catongo. Gallette also makes a wide range of truffles and bon bons.
Brazil Fazenda Lajedo do Ouro - Cacao Catongo 65%
Aroma: creamy, grape, hyacinth, honey, smoked meat, raisin, grass
Flavor: Mild, creamy, and pleasant. Notes of vanilla, milk, grapes, cherimoya, hazelnuts, marshmallow, honey, peanut butter, grapes, raisins, vanilla cookies or pudding, hot chocolate, horchata, rice pudding with raisins.
Recommendation: Recommended. A tasty bar, but not great. There is some sort of slightly odd flavor that I can’t quite identify – something a little starchy, like corn starch in pudding or thickeners in hot chocolate mix. It doesn't detract from the overall flavor, but it doesn't really add to it either. Nonetheless, if you like very mild, creamy chocolate, you will probably enjoy this bar.
Batch info: Lot no. CD180318, Best before May 10, 2019
Luisa Abram makes single origin chocolate from wild-growing Brazilian cacao. I have tried three bars so far - the first, Amazon Rio Acará 70%, was disappointing but I’d heard good things about Luisa Abrams so I wanted to try another. The second, Rio Tocantins 81%, was also disappointing. However, the third bar I tried, Rio Juruá 70%, was lovely. Thus far, I can say that Luisa Abrams does admirable work conserving wild cacao and forming partnerships with local communities and producing chocolate of widely variable quality, some delicious, some not so much.
Wild Brazilian Amazon Rio Acará 70%
Aroma: wintergreen, smoked meat, barbecue sauce, smoke, latex,
Flavor: starchy, burnt, carob, dusty, chalky, overripe fruit, astringent
Recommended: Not recommended. I found this bar to be unpleasant, with burnt flavors, a lot of chalkiness and astringency and little complexity.
Batch info: Best by October 9, 2020
Rio Tocantins 81%
Aroma: acetic acid
Flavor: Biscuits, citrus, then apple cider vinegar as the dominant flavor, then shifts to dryness. Some bitterness but not excessive. Earthy (dusty), starchy with a slight creaminess, bit of a bite.
Recommendation: Not recommended. Lots of acidity, little complexity, tastes stale and dusty.
Batch info: L00003; Best by November 30, 2021
Rio Juruá 70%
Review coming soon
Based in São Paulo, Mission Chocolate makes single-estate bars with cacao from around Brazil, as well as several other countries in South and Central America.
Brazil Fazenda Camboa 70%
Aroma: spice, leather, rich chocolate, dried red fruit
Flavor: Some odd and slightly unpleasant flavors. Burnt, raw sunflower seed, vanilla, cardboard, faint red fruit, biscuits, mildly sweet dried fruit – figs, walnut, some woody astringency, some bitterness, some greenness, grapefruit bitterness, deep roasted nuts – slightly bitter, dusty cocoa powder, dark flavors, molasses, coffee grounds
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. While Brazil is not known for fine flavor cacao, Mission pulls a range of interesting and distinct flavors from the beans. There are also some unpleasant burnt, bitter, and astringent notes but they do not totally detract from the experience.
Batch info: Lot no. 030119, Best by December 1, 2019
Catongo Fazenda Lajedo do Ouro 70%
Aroma: dry leaves, dried figs, raisins, clayey soil,
Flavor: Fig Newton cookies, raisins, figs, faint pine. Some juicy red fruit notes in the back of the mouth as it melts. Quite sweet, very soft texture with some starchy/chalkiness. No bitterness. Slight astringency with kind of a dry feeling. Note the reddish hue of the chocolate, owing to the low levels of certain compounds that give other varieties both a darker color and bitter flavor.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. Can’t say I love this bar, but it’s interesting to try a unique variety like Catongo. I liked the Catongo bar from Gallette, also bean to bar in Brazil, better than this one.
Batch info: Lot 090120; Best by September 1, 2021