I purchased this bar through Bar & Cocoa, who I always turn to for bars that I cannot easily obtain though online shops in the United States. I simply bought this bar because I hadn’t tried Menakao before, but I had seen them on Instagram.
The packaging mentions that though a lot of cacao comes from Madagascar, most of the beans goes to external chocolate makers. Menako is different in that the cacao and the maker itself are both from and based out of Madagascar. This helps provide income to Madagascan people. The business originated from a man named Cassam Chenai, who moved from India to Madagascar about 150 years ago. He started a trading business first selling postcards, but then expanded to spices, cocoa and coffee. Fast forward to the fourth generation and 2006 where Shahin Chenai decided to start a “fine chocolate” business to highlight the cocoa coming from the Sambirano region.
Their website says that name Menakao comes from the Malagasy word for “red” (“mena”) and “cacao” (“kao”). The red represents the color of the soil the cacao is grown from, “rich in mineral sediments deposited by our Sambirano river, red like the tones of the colour of our chocolate. Red like Red Island, the island of Madagascar”. The beans come from cooperatives in the upper and lower parts of the Sambirano Valley. All ingredients used to create Menakao bars come from Madagascar.
The tasting notes listed on the back of the bar is very descriptive! It includes red fruits, citrus, intense, elegant, bright, long rich yet subtle acidic finish. Let me take a moment to catch my breath! The chocolate smelled citrusy and earthy, literally like freshly tilled dirt. The flavor was mostly earthy with some citrus. As my bite melted, astringency started to develop with a subtle fruit flavor like plums. Then it turned into what kind of reminded me of Cheezits (yes, as an adult I still sometimes eat them). Like the slightly sour flavor of cheese. My bite stayed that way until the end where it finished with subtle earthiness.
Even though I don’t jump for joy over chocolate made with Madagascan cacao since I usually find them too astringent for my taste, this bar helped change the game for me. I think I’ll be more likely to purchase bars made with Madagascan cacao again in the future.
Menakao: Made in Madagascar
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.