Based in the Netherlands, Original Beans makes a wide range of single origin bars and professional couverture chocolate for chefs. The company has a uniquely strong commitment to sustainable practices, including planting one tree for every bar sold, using biodegradable packaging, and working to reduce their carbon emissions at every step of the process. And, they make fantastic chocolate. It's a win-win! Also, several Original Beans bars are available in mini sizes! It's a perfect way to try smaller amounts of more types for about the same price.
Tanzania Cru Udzungwa with Nibs 70%
Aroma: deep, rich, earthy, buttery, toffee, orange, floral (lilac, jasmine, hyacinth)
Flavor: Bursting with flavor. Sweet peanut butter, toffee, fruity, caramel, orange, coffee, gentle red fruit notes, floral, rich.
Batch info: Best before September 30, 2020 & Batch no. UB71146 0842, Best before November 30, 2019
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Full of bright fun flavor. I’ve gotten it twice and it was great both times.
Peru Piura Porcelana 75%
Aroma: delicate and mild, soft chocolate and fruity notes, honey, honeysuckle, beeswax, lime
Flavor: some citrus peel bitterness, fruity, delicate nutty flavors, lime, raspberry, a little tangy, nibs
Batch info: Best before January 31, 2020
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Complex and mellow, with lovely delicate fruit notes
D. R. Congo Virunga 70%
Aroma: smoke, mold, beef jerky, black olive, honey
Flavor: moldy wood, fig, earthy, black tea, rich cocoa, red fruit, smoked fish.
Batch info: June 30, 2020
Recommendation: Not recommended. The mold flavor was so distinct, going beyond earthy or mushroom, that I wonder if there was a mold defect in the batch I tried. I’ll have to try this origin again because everything else Original Beans makes seems to be really good.
Mexico Zoque 88%
Aroma: A deep, intense aroma, the kind of bar that is thrilling to open. Leather, rich, soil, something softly animal like horses and sweet hay, almost meaty liked smoked meat or barbecue.
Flavor: Bread, not sweet, almost a meatiness to it but not like the over fermented hammy flavor, more like just a rich umami element. An intense, pure cacao flavor. Very rich – like peanut or almond oil. Not sweet, almost savory. At the very end, a little bit more sweetness becomes apparent and there is a hint of apricot.
Recommendation: Recommended. Very smooth and approachable for 88%. Also makes a nice drinking chocolate.
Batch info: Z81146 0712; Best by November 30, 2020
Bolivia Beni Wild Harvest 66%
Aroma: Sweet, slightly fermented fruit and flower aromas – similar to Nacional, grape, leather, perhaps the slightest hint of pepper or fresh grass, something floral, green tea
Flavor: A mix of fruity, floral, soft dairy, and rich cocoa flavors. Apricot jam, floral honey, blueberries, soft red wine flavors, dried berries, rich brown fruit flavors like fruit cooked with butter, lemon ice cream, lemon cheesecake. Overall, a rich sweet chocolate flavor like hot cocoa or brownie dominates with subtle fruit, floral, and lactic notes.
Batch info: B81224 1006, 30 June 2020
Recommendation: Recommended. A pleasant, approachable bar with soft flavors.
Esmeraldas Milk 42%
Aroma: Soft, milky
Flavor: Very sweet and milky, candy-sweet, frosting, slight starchiness, faint floral notes. Actual cocoa flavor is faint.
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. This is good if you like very sweet milk chocolate – another taster who does enjoyed it – but if you are looking for more cacao flavor go for a darker milk, like their Femmes de Virunga Dark Milk (DRC, 55%), or dark milk bars from Patric, Fruition, or Dick Taylor.