Thursday, August 25, 2005

Single Origin Chocolate

Name: Unique Origin Ocumare & Guaranda
Brand: Chocovic
Place Purchased: Trader Joe’s
Price: $1.79 each (they’re much more expensive here)
Size: 2.82 oz
Calories per ounce: 153
Type: Chocolate

This is not a new product to me, however, I’ve gotten a couple of notes (one email and one comment) to review this, so here goes. My husband bought a set of three of the unique origins bars one year before vacation and we took them with us to rocky beaches, windswept dunes and rolling oak-dotted hills of the central Californian coast, so any pleasant past associations with the bars must be taken into account.

The bars in question were from the cocoa crop of 2004. The freshness date said they were best before 04/2007.

First was the Guaranda, which is 71% cocoa solids of forastero arriba cocoa from Ecuador. The tasting notes on the back: “Perfumed aroma with fruity, acid notes and floral tones of acacia honey, with milky and exotic wood nuances. Typical personality of the cocoa bean: smooth dark chocolate taste with floral tones of honeyed character.” The ingredients are simple: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and soya lecithin.

My tasting notes: the scent is woodsy, smoky and a bit like coffee. The surface is smooth and shiny (better than the photo) with a red hint to it. Upon biting into it, it snaps easily and melts quickly on the tongue. The cocoa mass is very smooth, not at all gritty. It’s very dry yet the cocoa butter gives it a slippery, cool feeling on the tongue. I don’t detect much of the honey notes, but the butteryness gives it a sort of empty feeling, like there’s a top and bottom but no middle flavors.

Next was Ocumare, which is 71% cocoa solids of criollo cocoa from Venuzuela. The tasting notes on the back: “Smooth perfumed aroma with tones of exotic wood, nuts and dried fruit as well as spicy nuances. Refined and lasting taste, balanced and round at the same time. Also, aspects of cedar, tobacco and dried plums are particularly noteworthy.” The ingredients are the same as the first: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and soya lecithin.

My tasting notes: the smell is woodsy with more of a fruit note to it, perhaps apple. The color is a dark and consistent brown with a good snap to the bite. It immediately starts to melt on the tongue. It has a rounder flavor just as the package suggests with more middle notes of sweet apple or apricot (I’m not catching the plum here). It’s a much fuller flavor from top to bottom with absolutely no grain to it. Towards the end there’s less of a dry finish but a nice lingering woodsy note.

For high end 70%+ bars, I think these are the best I’ve tried to date. Though the single origin means that you may never get these bars again, they’re wonderfully balanced with an excellent smoothness. I do think overall that I prefer a blended chocolate to get the full-bodied taste with a multitude of notes (like a chorus instead of a soloist) but if you hadn’t told me that they were single origins, I could still state unequivocally that these are good bars. Where I find so many upscale bars lacking in the cocoa butter/smoothness factor, these bars excel at the melting and without any graininess at all.

I wouldn’t say that they’re worth more than $3.50 per bar though, like you might be charged some places. So if you can get them at a Trader Joe’s or other similar economical location (maybe Cost Plus carries them), they are the best $2 you can spend on a high-cocoa content bar.

Interesting facts from the package: Chocovic is based in Barcelona, Spain and has been in business since 1872.

Rating - 9 out of 10.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:13 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateSingle Origin9-YummyUnited States

  1. 71% minimum?  Then how much is in crappy Easter chocolates?  Nevermind, I don’t think I want to know now….

    Ever had Sarris chocolates?  Probably not more than 70% cocoa, but man, they’re really good.  Smooth and stuff like that.  Melty, if you will.

    Comment by Tindy on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  2. Great review, and I’m not just saying that because I left a comment about them before. =) I particularly like single origin chocolates, as you pointed out, because you may never taste the exact same thing again. I think you can really learn a lot about chocolate when it’s not blended to taste the exact same way every time.

    Comment by Nic on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Tindy - I’m not chocolate snob - my favorite chocolate (Wilbur) contains only 50% cocoa solids - the rest is sweet sugar and smooth ‘n’ silky cocoa butter. Most milk chocolate I think has between 30-45% cocoa solids (gotta have room for the milk!)

    I’ll put Sarris on my list of chocolates to look out for! Thanks for the tip.

    Nic, I’ll definitely keep buy Chocovic - and I’m curious about their other bars too.

    Comment by Cybele on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  4. We have a couple of these that we’ve been working on…soooooo good. I generally prefer milk but these are making me a dark chocolate believer.

    TJs is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places to get just about everything.

    Comment by Bruce Anderson on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  5. Im glad I found this blog.  I see tons of chocolate when I go to MI to Trader Joe’s.  I always wonder whats good.  And, I wish I would have found this when I was living in Long Beach.  I passed up many a chocolates at the 99cents only store cause I was too wary.

    Comment by Randi on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  6. I completely agree. These are excellent bars that don’t get the recognition they deserve. I recently tried some high end chocalate ( french and Italian), the italian one was pretty bad, the french was better, but nothing special, even though it is highly regarded. I keep coming back to chocovic. I prefer the guaranada, even though the ocumare has a better bean.

    Comment by Anonymous on 12/31/69 at 4:00 pm #
  7. I hate to disagree, but I purchased these two bars at Trader Joe’s recently, and although the Guaranda favored well; the Ocumare was just plain yuck.  We all tried to see the good points, and- well the bar got tossed.  No one even finished their pieces!

    Comment by Jaime on 10/18/06 at 7:29 am #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    Wow, Jaime, I’m sorry to hear that. Were they the same “vintage”? This review is over a year old, so I was tasting the 2004 crop (though the package said it was good until ‘07) ... I’ll poke around next time I’m in Trader Joe’s.

    Comment by Cybele on 10/18/06 at 7:32 am #
  9. Another excellent review!  I learn a lot from your reviews, and they’re always well done.  I only have one tiny suggestion—would it be possible to change put a tag in that says “Chocovic” so that is shows up under your brand list?  You might have to change the tag from “single origin”, but I don’t know how that part works.  There may well be others like me who are only interested in chocolate reviews, so I mainly look under the “Brands” category to find what I’m looking for.  It’s only a very small thing, though…

    Comment by Theo Broma on 5/16/08 at 3:10 am #
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