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Markham & Fitz

Bentonville, Arkansas

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Haiti Pisa 75%

 

Aroma: leather, dark roast, rubber, faint dried fruit, damp earth

 

Flavor: Caramel for a moment at the beginning but fades quickly, pleasant bitter fruity notes - orange rind, cranberry, red wine - and dark roasted flavors throughout, a slight back of throat bite,  a little cherry at the end, tannins, woody astringency, some bitterness.

 

Recommendation: Recommended. There are complex flavors, some quite pleasant, and many tasters will enjoy this bar, especially if you like dark, complex, and more bitter notes - though this will be less appealing to others. Worth trying especially since it is a less common origin.

 

Batch info: Enjoy by 2021, Batch no. 99

Tasted: October 2019

Michel Cluizel

Chocolate has been a family business since Marc Cluizel began apprenticing at a pastry shop in Lyon in the 1920's. Now in its third-generation, Cluizel makes dozens of single-origin and inclusion bars, truffles, and novelties in addition to a large wholesale range.

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Plantation Vila Gracinda – São Tomé

 

Aroma: strong slightly turned flower aroma, a little hammy/smoked meat, dried fruit, complex, mint

Flavor: Very sweet. Smoked meat/a bit hammy, toasted almond, peanut butter, fig jam, nibs, tannins/astringency, dried blueberries, natural vanilla comes through, mint, a little astringent. I don’t love it.

 

Recommendation: Would not recommend. Similar to the Mokaya single origin bar, it is overly sweet with off flavors characteristic of poorly fermented beans.

 

Batch info: Expiration date: December 22, 2018

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Plantation Mokaya - Mexico

 

Aroma: something overly sweet and a little hammy – over fermented beans?, intense fermented flavors like fermented fruit. Also chocolate, pepper, coffee.

 

Flavor: Dark earthy flavors with notes that seem a little off - overripe oranges and banana. Also grape, caramel. Indistinct chocolate flavors. Some moldy flavors at the end.

 

Recommendation: Not recommended. It’s too sweet, with over-fermented and moldy flavors. I’ve heard people rave about Michel Cluizel and this bar won awards at the 2018 International Chocolate Awards, so maybe it’s an off batch with some fermentation issues. However, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Cluizel’s São Tomé bar either, so for now I’m not recommending it.

 

Batch info: Expiration date: March 27, 2020

Millcreek Cacao Roasters

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Arriba Nacional Hacienda Limon 70%

 

Aroma: sweet hay, sorghum molasses, faint cinnamon. Mild aroma, slightly astringent.

 

Flavor: Rich dark flavors without bitterness: Dark caramel; brownie edges, chocolate teddy grahams. Also marzipan, some light red fruitiness, and a little creamy/marshmallow. Slightly grainy texture. No bitterness or astringency; low acidity; nice richness. 

 

Recommendation: Recommended. A pleasant, flavorful bar. An enjoyable example of Ecuadorian cacao.

 

Batch info: 647; Sell by July 2021

Nadalina

Based in Croatia, this bean-to-bar makers sources from unique origins around the world to make award-winning chocolate including a large organic range. Availability is limited - it is sold in shops around Croatia including at some airports. I bought these bars at Nadalina’s small shop within the Diocletian’s Palace complex in Split. They offer a wide range of plain bars, inclusion bars, and single origin bars including Cuba, Bolivia, Madagascar (Akesson’s estate), Ecuador, Piura Peru, Ivory Coast, and more. Their nib bar won bronze in the Italy and Mediterranean category at the 2018 chocolate awards.

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Wild Bolivia 66%

Aroma: soft aroma. Dried fig cookie,

 

Flavor: good. Raisin, cocoa powder, dried fig, soft mineral notes. Concentrated dried fruit flavors like port wine. A sweet, slightly starchy creaminess, like vanilla pudding or cookies. Malt. Very slight green seed flavor. Definitely reminds me of other Bolivia bars with the mellow, creamy vanilla flavors.

 

Batch info: best by March 1, 2020

 

Recommendation: Recommended.

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Nibs 70%  Organic

Aroma: intense – leather, smoke, dark beer

Flavor: dried red fruit - cherry, brownie, chocolate syrup, whiskey, damp earth/compost, mushroom, woody, dark tea

Batch info: best by July 1, 2020

Recommendation: Recommended. Deep, intense flavors are well balanced.

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Cuba Baracoa 68%

Aroma: rich, earthy, and smoky, but not burned. The smokiness is not unpleasant, it is soft and evokes fall leaves.

 

Flavor: dark and earthy, but not overly bitter, some roasted almond, brownie, dark chocolate cake, and cocoa powder flavors. A slight tanginess and flavors of juicy berries, grape, port wine, raisin, dried fig flavors emerge underneath the darker earth flavors. Some cookie/shortbread flavors near the end.

 

Batch info: best by March 1, 2020

 

Recommendation: Highly recommended. Flavors are pleasant and well developed. Good complexity makes this an interesting bar.

Ecuador Organic 69%

Aroma: Intense grape/raisin/port, leather

 

Flavor: some astringency, creamy, starchy – like cornstarch, raisin, molasses, cocoa powder, carob, toasted whole wheat flour

 

Batch info: Best by May 5, 2020

 

Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. This is neither one of their best bars nor one of the best examples of Ecuadorian beans, but it’s not unpleasant.

Óbolo

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Pangoa Peru 70%

Aroma: leather, dried figs, cocoa powder, dried fruit, fig jam

 

Flavor: Sweet and fruity: fig jam, dried and fresh cherries, juicy red fruit, some tanginess, molasses, brown sugar. Some starchiness. Very little bitterness or astringency. Smooth but not creamy per se.

 

Recommendation: Recommended. Enjoyable, though not exceptional, and unusual among Peru bars.

 

Batch info: Lot no. 1584-E, Enjoy by November 17, 2021

Primo Botanico

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Alto Huayabamba, Peru 75% sweetened with panela

 

Aroma: cocoa mulch, dried cherries, slight grassiness – maybe from panela, maybe a little peach, slight muddiness.

 

Flavor: A mild, muddled flavor. Raisin, some red fruit tanginess.  Deep flavor, a dark enough roast to bring out some dark toast notes but nicely done so as not to lose the lighter red fruit notes. Slight starchiness like the outside of a marshmallow. Slightly grainy texture.

 

Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. A more rustic flavor experience. The panela confuses the flavor, though if you are fond of that particular flavor you may like it.

 

Batch info: Batch no. 8; Best before November 1, 2020

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