Usually we cover one or two chocolate makers per state, but Trish had generously sent me a lot of bars from her state, California, so I get to cover all of them in one big post! I have wanted to try all of these brands for a long time and I’m very excited to finally do that!
The back of the Letterpress bar says, “Thought to be extinct for 100 years, pure Nacional cacao was discovered by Dan Pearson in late 2007 growing in the Marañón Canyon of Northern Peru. The pods are unique in that they contain 40% white beans which results in much lighter chocolate.” It also mentions that as a result of Lettepress purchasing cacao from this part of Peru, the children in the area are able to attend school and stay in the area to carry on the work of caring for the cacao trees as opposed to leaving for other types of work.
Letterpress uses cacao from other regions, and besides making chocolate that brings out the cacao’s unique tasting notes, they want to help support local farmers and communities that can benefit from their purchasing the cacao at a higher price than mass producing chocolate companies.
Letterpress began in 2014 and invented their name due to their passion of combining the craft of letterpress printing with chocolate. They even volunteer at the International Printing Museum in California.
The chocolate definitely looked lighter in color as the back of the package mentioned and the tasting notes were listed as citrus with a “warm” mocha finish. The chocolate smelled citrusy and like caramel. I tasted a tart citrus flavor first and the chocolate retained that flavor until the end where it mellowed out into a coffee/mocha flavor like the packaging mentioned. This chocolate was very smooth in texture and melted relatively quickly on my tongue.
Letterpress: Made in Los Angeles, California
An article featuring Parliament made a good point that everything “made in America” was mass produced, cheap and low quality. The craft chocolate movement is showing that high quality chocolate can be made here in America, and though it costs more than Hershey’s, the flavor packs more punch and the farmers who grow the cacao benefit way more economically from the chocolate makers who purchase their cacao than from mass producing chocolate companies.
Parliament was started in 2013 by Ryan and Cassi Berk. Ryan was greatly impacted by his high school where he and his classmates learned about growing gardens and how food is brought to the table. He decided he wanted to be a chef and his experiences in the restaurant business helped him see how food connects people from all backgrounds. When he purchased some cacao off of the internet and a refiner, he realized how flavorful the chocolate he had made was compared to the mass produced stuff.
The name “Parliament” came from the term used for referring to a group of owls. The building that Parliament is based out of used to be called White Owl Café and Ryan was intrigued by owls and the history of the building, which was why he chose this name for the company. He also saw the name as representing the community of people he admires surrounding him including farmers and his employees. The name is also why his bars have an owl theme on the wrappers.
The cacao for this bar came from Guatemala, and I was wondering what Q’eqchi meant. The back of the wrapper explains, “Q’eqchi families from the eco-region of Lachua dedicate themselves to the cultivation of cacao to produce the highest quality product, to better the economy of our families and helping at the same time to preserve the environment for our future generations.” The tasting notes are listed as orange blossom honey, cane juice, blackberries and dulce de leche. The chocolate smelled like caramel to me, but after reading the tasting notes, I’d say it’s closer to the orange blossom honey and dulche de leche. I tasted the sweetness of orange blossom honey first followed by dulche de leche. The dulche de leche flavor was more prominent midway through my bite. I didn’t taste any blackberries or obvious sugar cane flavors, but I still enjoyed this chocolate!
Parliament: Made in Redlands, CA
Instead of writing my own blurb here about Twenty-Four Blackbirds, I recommend checking out Estelle Tracy’s YouTube video and her blog, 37 Chocolates, where she does her own review on Twenty-Four Blackbirds’s Madagascar 75% bar. I am going to move on to my own impressions of the bars that Trish mailed out to me.
This bar used Domincan cacao, and it smelled and tasted like red fruit. The red fruity flavor remained the same from the beginning through the end of my bite. The website lists the tasting notes as “malty cocoa flavor and a slight nuttiness that is followed up with notes of honey.” I did not taste any of those flavors, but maybe someone else’s taste buds could detect them.
This bar used Bolivian cacao, and the bar had an ashy look to it. The scent was mildly like coffee and the chocolate melted slower compared to the Dominican bar. The flavor was sweet and reminded me of caramel or dulche de leche. As my bite melted, the flavor became subtly like coffee with a light roasted flavor, as though I had a caramel latte but minus the milk part of the latte. There was a touch of astringency in the aftertaste. The website lists the tasting notes as earthy and like brownies with a little bit of astringency in the finish.
This bar used Tanzanian cacao, and I could smell citrus and something of a toasted or roasted scent. I immediately tasted what reminded me of raisins and it was sweet to me. My boyfriend smelled nuttiness but tasted raspberries. The tasting notes on the website lists “light fruit flavors, a hint of maple, and a finish of toasted rice, coffee and cream.” When I took a second bite I could taste the maple.
We were so far off from the tasting notes according to Twenty-Four Blackbirds website, but I enjoyed all of the bars! My boyfriend liked the Tanzanian bar the best.
Twenty-Four Blackbirds: Made in Santa Barbara, CA
Make sure to check out Trish’s Eating the Chocolate Alphabet to see what state she will be covering next!
Other chocolate makers based out of California (it’s a long list!):
Arete Fine Chocolate
Bar au Chocolat
Bean To Bar Chocolate Factory
Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates
Snake & Butterfly
The Oakland Chocolate Company
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. 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.