Wm. Chocolate – Comparing Two Harvests of Belize

I know that cacao is harvested in the summer and the fall, but I’ve never had the chance to compare two harvests of the same cacao in chocolate bar form until now. When Will of Wm. Chocolate announced that his Belize bar was available in separate harvests of cacao from the Maya Mountains, I wanted to try both bars side by side.

When looking at the packaging of the first Belize bar harvested in 2016, the tasting notes are listed on the back as blackberry, custard and candied pineapple. The bar smelled like tropical fruits to me, and the flavor was a burst of subtle earthiness and tropical fruits (like mango). As my bite melted the flavors turned into cheese (like gouda) and what reminded me of sourdough bread. In the finish I continued to experience that cheese flavor with fruitiness and subtle candied pineapple. The cheese remained as an aftertaste for a long time. The chocolate melted smoothly and quickly and provided an exciting flavor story!

The second harvest was in 2017 and the tasting notes are listed as candied pineapple, custard and raisin. Maybe because cheese is now on my mind it’s mainly what I smelled from this bar along with subtle fruitiness. Immediately I tasted cheese, mild acidity, and subtle fruity flavors. The cheese, acidity and very subtle fruitiness stuck with me through the end of my bite. I had to take a second bite because my mind was still taking in the different pattern in flavor development compared to the first Belize bar. I took our cat Choco on a walk to give my taste buds a break, then took my second bite, and experienced the same unfolding of a flavor story except this time I experienced more of that candied pineapple flavor midway through my bite.

I’m blown away by the differences between these two bars! For me, the first harvest was more fruity and the second was overall more savory. I kind of like the first harvest of Belize better, but as I’m continuing to try the second harvest it is definitely growing on me! I think it won’t be long before the first harvest bars will sell out and I’ll be consuming the second harvest at the same rate and liking it just as much.

I had my husband taste both of these bars as well for a second opinion. In the first harvest bar he tasted the blackberry and in general a lot of fruitiness and some of that custard. In the second harvest bar he first tasted coffee followed by fruitiness (he worded it as “light fruitiness”) with possibly some of that raisin flavor.

If you want to read my thoughts on other bars I’ve tried by Will and my first time experiencing the first harvest Belize bar, go here.

Wm. Chocolate: Made in Madison Wisconsin

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

Ohiyo

I was able to try Ohiyo for the first time thanks to a fellow chocoholic friend who is originally from Ohio, which is where Ohiyo is based 🙂

Ohiyo was started in 2014 by Mike Condo who simply wanted to make the best chocolate bar he could and as simply as possible. His journey into making his own chocolate was also propelled by his suffering from Crohn’s disease and needing to cut soy and processed sugars out of his diet. He started making his own chocolate as a way to still be able to enjoy it. He uses his company to share good chocolate with the central Ohio community where he’s been raised. At this time he doesn’t ship any orders outside of Ohio.

In this excellent Q&A with Mike, I love his description of how craft chocolate makers are different from industrial chocolate companies: “Even though many large chocolate manufacturers do start with raw cocoa beans, they usually are not considered bean to bar chocolate makers. This is due to the fast processing times, automated procedures, and high level of additives in the finished chocolate.” This is a great explanation for people who aren’t entirely convinced that craft chocolate is different from industrial chocolate! At the time of this Q&A (2014) Mike mentions that he only uses cacao from the Moho Valley region of Belize due to its flavor. But that has clearly changed as my chocoholic friend has shared with me a 74% Tien Giang, Vietanam bar.

The tasting notes on the back of the packaging list dried cherries, honey and warm spice. I could smell cherry, sweet honey and spice from this bar. The flavor was a little nibby, cherry and what kind of reminded me of the scent pipe tobacco. The spice and some acidity developed as my bite melted. The finish consisted of that same pipe tobacco flavor from the beginning. I can’t say I experienced honey, but it was a good bar! Thanks to the same gracious chocoholic friend I was able to try Mike’s Coffee Dark Chocolate bar, which was insanely delicious! I ate that bar so quickly that I barely had time to think about it.

As a final note regarding Ohiyo, the name comes from the “Iroquois name for ‘great river,’ a word Condo came across while researching the history of Ohio and chocolate, which was originally a Native American food.” I’m looking forward to hopefully trying more of Mike’s bars in the future.

Ohiyo: Made in Columbus, Ohio

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Mirzam

I had been longing to get my hands on some Mirzam for at least a year. Their inclusions are unique and the packaging is gorgeous! I even reached out to Mirzam to find out how I could purchase a bar and learned that Mirzam is currently not being sold in the United States. It was thanks to Cocoa Runners I was finally able to try a one of their bars.

On Mirzam and the Cocoa Runner’s website we learn that the ship on the front of the wrapper pays homage to the Middle East being in the center of spice trade (since Mirzam is based out of Dubai). The flavors and cacao origins come from inspiration of the maritime routes taken by those traders. Currently their bars are made using cacao from Vietnam, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and India. What’s very unique about Mirzam is their wrappers are created by hand by various artists and they even accept applications if anyone with artistic talent is interested.

This 62% dark bar was infused with damask rose from Bulgaria. Mirzam’s description includes a customer commenting that the bar reminded them of Turkish delight. Though Mirzam says this bar isn’t overpowering in florals, I think the rose scent and flavor was a bit strong. It did however bring up fond memories of some rose water my Oma (“grandmother” in German) gave my sister and I many years ago. I tried this bar on separate days. On the first day my senses were filled with rose. The second day of trying it in the morning I was able to enjoy the Ghana chocolaty base and I experienced a brownie-like finish.

I’m interested in trying more Mirzam bars at some point. I’m sad that I can’t access a wider range of Mirzam bars. I hope they will become available in the United States soon!

Mirzam: Made in Dubai

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Tabal Chocolate

It is thanks to William Marx of Wm. Chocolate that I heard about Tabal Chocolate. William remembered that I LOVE matcha in chocolate and mentioned Tabal’s Teahouse Matcha bar to me. Tabal is a small batch chocolate maker that was started in 2012 by Dan Bieser. Their retail store was opened in April 2017 where they offer chocolate making and truffle making classes. According to their website their logo comes from the shape of the stones they use for grinding their cocoa.

I had already broken into the Teahouse Matcha bar a couple of days prior to writing this post, but also as I’m writing I’ve almost finished the whole bar! The scent of matcha is subtle from this bar but I can definitely taste the matcha. The back of the packaging describes it as being “sweet, creamy and energizing”. I think it’s accurate. There’s no bitterness at all. It’s rare to find a dark chocolate bar with matcha too since the majority of matcha chocolate bars use white chocolate as the base. (Though the front of the packaging says this bar contains 58% cocoa, there’s no mention of any milk powder being used in the ingredients list.)  Somehow Tabal has made this dark chocolate and matcha pairing work and it’s absolutely delicious!

The chai bar had a pleasant and very present chai scent. The description on the back of the bar says it has a “hint of spice” but boy am I getting a slap in the face! I don’t mind this since I love drinking chai lattes. The flavor of cinnamon was strong.

Though I liked both bars, I’m completely hooked on the matcha bar! It’s so bad that I keep thinking about it, which is amazing! When I’ve made more of a dent in my chocolate stash and when cooler weather rolls around again, I definitely plan on ordering another matcha bar or two. I recommend it if you are a fan of matcha!

Tabal Chocolate: Made in Milwaukee, MI

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Areté

I learned of Areté through fellow chocolate blogger Trish of Eating the Chocolate Alphabet. I’ve also seen this name floating around Instagram several times, so I wanted to try a bar for myself. Areté was started started by David and Leslie Senk in 2014 and the name comes from the Greek word for “excellence”. They make their chocolate in small batches, sometimes roasting only 6 pounds of cacao at a time and only making 100 bars per batch. They were featured in a Forbes slideshow of “The Most Delicious Chocolates To Buy Now”, though Forbes needs to work out which pictures are paired with which bars because it’s a complete mess!

The scent of this bar reminded me of fruity coffee, just like the Birdie Blend coffee I just tried from Rare Bird Coffee Roasters 🙂 (Not sponsored, by the way! Just a fan of their coffee.) I experienced a strong raisin flavor that turned chocolaty and slightly tannic as my bite melted. In my second bite I tasted a roasted flavor that developed as my bite melted and mild acidity but I still tasted the raisin.

I liked this bar a lot! It didn’t last long in my hands and I’m convinced that I definitely need to try more Areté bars when I next get the chance!

Areté: Made in Milpitas, CA

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

Krak Chocolade

No, the title of this post is not misspelt. Krak is based out of the Netherlands, hence the spelling of the word “chocolate”. From Cocoa Runners I learned that the founder, Mark Schimmel, started working in the kitchen at the young age of 14 cleaning chocolate bowls used by pastry chefs. After becoming a pastry chef himself and working extensively with couverture chocolate, he wanted to explore the bean to bar process to understand how couverture was made. After purchasing a cocoa grinder from Dutch cacao trader Daarnhouwer, Krak began in 2013. The name comes from his taking a “crack” at making his own chocolate. I love how in Mark’s interview with Cocoa Runners he says he’s on a mission to “convince people that chocolate is not a candy”! Amen!

Cocoa Runner’s description for the Colombia Cordoba 70% bar says that the beans were lightly roasted and the chocolate experienced a “medium conche“, though I’m not sure what that means. Their tasting experience was that the bar had a strong body with a medium acidity, low bitterness, wine, red fruit and oak flavors. Mine was very different. The bar smelled like mangos and tasted like mangos. The medium acidity I did experience. The overall flavor reminded me of the aftertaste one experiences after having drunk orange juice. In a nutshell it’s the only way I can really describe it!

I liked this bar and I love Mark’s mission to help people understand that chocolate is like wine and cheese. It’s to be savored and not simply chomped on like candy. Thank you for your contribution in educating the public about chocolate, Mark!

Krak Chocolade: Made in Amsterdam, Netherlands

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Goodnow Farms

After seeing Trish from Eating the Chocolate Alphabet feature Goodnow Farms in our collaboration of featuring a chocolate maker from (almost) all 50 American states, I knew I needed to try them for myself. If you want some backstory about them, head over to Trish’s site where she shares her thoughts on their Asochivite and Nicalizo bars.

In addition to Trish’s backstory, I like that the founders, Tom and Monica Rogan, specify on their website that they use single origin cocoa beans to bring out the individual characteristics and flavors of the farm or region the beans come from. Not every chocolate maker website mentions that and it’s great information for consumers who are new to craft chocolate. They press their own cocoa butter from each variety of bean and use it in the appropriate chocolate to make their bars genuinely single origin.

The Nacional beans used for the Esmeraldas bar come from a farm in Ecuador owned by the Salazar family. The family is in full control of the fermenting and drying process to ensure they are providing high quality beans. The family has been working with Dan O’Doherty of Cacao Services on finding and grafting Nacional clones that will increase production.

The flavor notes for this bar are listed on the back as “berry jam and classic cocoa, with a long, pleasantly tannic finish”. The scent was of light berry and the taste was at first like that “classic cocoa” mentioned on the packaging. The tannic flavor developed halfway through my bite. It wasn’t until the end that I experienced the berry jam flavor and the tannic finish. When chomping the chocolate out of pure hunger I just experienced chocolaty and light berry flavors.

I liked this bar and I ate the whole thing in one sitting! I’m looking forward to trying more Goodnow bars the next time I get the chance to order more and when my chocolate stash runs low.

Goodnow Farms: Made in Sudbury, MA

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Chocolate Roulette with Georgia Ramon

If you have never heard of playing chocolate roulette, it’s a game I’ve started with a group of friends in which I introduce them to a hot, spicy bar along with other bars by the same chocolate maker or brand. The first time I hosted a game of chocolate roulette I used the ghost pepper bar by Raaka as the “bullet”. You can learn more about that experience here. This time I finally got my hands on a Carolina Reaper bar by Georgia Ramon.

I had heard about this intriguing bar on Instagram several months ago, but by the time I had closed out of Instagram and looked online to order the bar for myself, it was sold out everywhere. It wasn’t until a trip to Germany this year that I was able to find it in person and of course, it was back in stock online as well. I wasn’t that familiar with Georgia Ramon, and roulette was the perfect opportunity to get a variety of their bars to try.

I thought it was interesting that most of the bars shared the roasting, grinding and conching information, though all of the bars here that did include the conching time all said “0 Hours” or “Without”. Some of these photos I took at the location of the chocolate roulette game, hence the difference in backgrounds and quality of photos.

Before I talk about the game experience, I’m going to briefly share about the bars individually. There’s no particular order in which I’m sharing them. The ghost pepper bar by Raaka didn’t have as much of a spicy kick as I expected, but this bar definitely had a kick! It was like a slow spicy burn that gradually increased, plateaued, then slowly dissipated in the finish.

The back of the packing listed the aroma as herby and “milky creamy”. The flavor notes were listed as raspberry, jasmine tea and nutty. It definitely smelled creamy, especially with the bar being a milk chocolate. Since I read jasmine tea as a flavor note, I was able to taste that as well. I didn’t quite detect any flavors that reminded me of raspberries but I did get a little bit of nuttiness.

The flavor notes included honey, roasted nuts, ripe fruits such as fig, plums and currant, and coffee. The chocolate smelled sweet, but it immediately tasted bright, fruity and it had a strong roasted nut flavor. The roasted nut flavor dominated over the fruity flavor as my bite melted. A fig-like flavor developed in the finish alongside the roasted nut.

This bar consisted of a blend with cardamom simply added to it. No other flavor notes were suggested on the back of the packaging. The scent of cardamom was easy to detect as well as the flavor. The cardamom gave a slow and gentle burn while the chocolate itself seemed chocolaty and then fruity like cherries toward the end.

The aroma notes included red fruits. The flavor notes included tart, “milky-creamy” and cardamom. The scent actually made me think of oregano. The flavor was like the “milky creamy” description they gave with a touch of fruitiness. Oreo cookies was what came to mind when I ate this! Maybe this would be like those Meiji strawberry biscuits I tried a couple of years ago. For a sweet, snacking chocolate, I like this a lot.

This bar is called Fahrenheit 264 since the beans were roasted at that temperature. The flavor notes were listed as lime, raspberry, nuts and spices. The chocolate smelled and tasted roasted to me.

The flavor notes were listed as lightly nutty, cereal, grapes, vanilla and fruity. The scent was lightly nutty and the chocolate tasted sweet, fruity and I could see why vanilla was listed as a flavor. Vanilla was not included in the ingredients list. I think it’s important to make a point of that since I know vanilla is sometimes added to chocolate, but in this case it was a natural flavor in the cocoa.

The aroma note was listed as floral and the flavor notes were listed as figs, cherries and nuts. The chocolate smelled earthy to me but tasted like lavender and roasted nuts. The chocolate became bitter as my bite melted. The roasted nut flavor remained in the finish.

Okay, now that we’ve gone through all of the bars, here’s how the game went down. On top of the plate I wrote numbers 1 through 8 and on the bottom of the plate I wrote down where I’d place a piece of each of the bars associated with their appropriate number. Each person was instructed to take a piece off of the plate and remember which number they took so I could later tell them which bar they had tried. Unfortunately one of our friends kept choosing the Carolina Reaper even though I shifted some of the pieces around to try to make him choose a different chocolate 🙂

After three rounds of roulette, everyone was naturally curious of how truly spicy the Carolina Reaper bar tasted. One person had difficulty finishing their bite while another of our friends ended up getting the hiccups. For people who have already been sampling spicy craft chocolate bars, the Carolina Reaper will definitely be tolerable. As someone who had to adjust to consuming spicy foods as an adult, I was able to handle the Carolina Reaper bar with no issues.

Out of the eight bars used for roulette, I enjoyed the Carolina Reaper, cardamom, Guatemala and Belize bars the most. I’m very glad to have finally tried the Carolina Reaper bar and to have experienced a truly spicy bar 🙂

Georgia Ramon: Made in Bonn, Germany

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

Raaka First Nibs Selection – May 2018

I was looking forward to trying Raaka’s May First Nibs Selection since one of the bars was Turmeric Latte. I had just been trying such lattes by Peet’s Coffee, which were pretty good but unfortunately they were a seasonal release. Thankfully I managed to grab my last turmeric latte from Peet’s just in time to try it alongside Raaka’s bar.

The Turmeric Latte bar tasted very similar to the Peet’s Coffee golden milk turmeric latte. The husband also confirmed that both food items tasted very similar to each other. The turmeric latte chocolate bar first tasted sweet with subtle spiciness and savoriness. I was reminded of the flavor of yellow curry. The finish consisted of a lingering tingling feeling from spiciness. The overall flavor of this bar actually reminded me of Raaka’s carrot, lemon and thyme bar from a previous First Nibs Selection!

The French Toast bar smelled and initially tasted like toast with sugar on top. The toasty flavor had some mild brightness and fruitiness. The fruitiness makes sense since the description that came with these bars mentions Dominican beans being used. I didn’t taste any maple flavoring even though the description mentions maple sugar being used, but I did enjoy the crunchy texture of puffed quinoa and chia seeds. I took a second bite and it was during that time that I immediately tasted the maple and spice medley of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Both bars were delicious and neither lasted more than a day in my husband’s and my hands 🙂 I hope Raaka makes another coffee-type inspired bar in the future!

Raaka: Made in Brooklyn, NY

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

The Cacao Bean Project

These bars were gifted to me by my mother since The Cacao Bean Project is based out of Sandy, UT. I’m already intrigued that they list the ingredients on the front of the bar rather than the back, and their address with phone number are included. Their package design is unique in putting all information on the front.

I had a hard time finding much information about The Cacao Bean Project, and their website doesn’t provide much backstory. One article posted a year ago mentions that the company was started by husband and wife team, Lance and Shannon Brown. It also mentions that Lance had been making chocolate prior to starting the company and he had been pushing for a chocolate making guild where makers can time-share equipment so “companies could save money with combined purchasing power”.

Another article mentions Lance saying his beans are “wood-smoked” rather than roasted. The cacao for making the Madagascar 74% bar are hickory smoked, as noted on the packaging. Sure enough the bar had a light smoky scent similar to bacon. My bite took a long time to melt, but eventually a mellow bright citrus flavor developed alongside a subtle smoky flavor. At the end of my bite I tasted mostly smokiness. Caputo’s tasted bright citrus, berry in the middle and then smokiness.

I have never tried a bar made with cacao sourced from Caranero. A quick Google search shows that Caranero is an island that’s part of Panama. This bar smelled like roasted nuts and earthy. The flavor started out sour and a little sharp like maybe blue cheese. As my bite melted I experienced acidity with roasted nut. The acidity mellowed out at the end and I was left with that nutty flavor. My experience was completely different from Caputo’s where they listed Deep cacao flavor, subtle cherry, floral with a hint of cinnamon” as their tasting notes.

Both bars were a bit dry for me, but otherwise I liked the subtlety of the Madagascar bar better. The Caranero was very interesting in that my tasting experience was completely different than Caputo’s. I’m curious to see how this company grows and what other bars they are/will produce.

The Cacao Bean Project: Made in Sandy, UT

These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the chocolate products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.

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