Cacao Review - Oko Caribe 70%

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Cacao Review - Öko Caribe 70%

When a chocolate maker backed out of our project due to deadline issues, we quickly came up with a solution to replace the bar – make our own chocolate bar. You may ask, "Wait, do you even know how to make chocolate?" The answer is yes and no. We have studied the process for years, we have helped chocolate makers in their factories, we have our own small-scale equipment we use as an occasional hobby, but we are not professional chocolate makers. Thankfully, we have a lot of chocolate friends to answer our endless texts.

This is just our opinion, so take it with a grain of sugar, but we have always felt that a chocolate company should spend years perfecting its art before releasing a product. We think about the pioneers of this movement, like Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate for example, who spent something like 10 years learning everything before he released his first bar. We don't expect our chocolate to be the same as Amano, Patric, Solstice, or any of the other greats, but we hope you enjoy it and know that we are doing our best and having fun. So, yes, we are hypocrites, but we had to do something, right?

So, why did we choose Öko Caribe, Dominican Republic as the origin for our first bar? With our time constraints, we went to a site we knew could ship cacao beans quickly, Meridian Cacao. From its selection, we did a lot of research and loved the information we found on the beans and wanted to choose an origin that we don’t see used often. We also had to keep balance in mind when considering the other bars in the box. It was a risk to trust in cacao we didn't have experience with, but we went for it.

After some trial batches at home, we roasted the beans in a few Behmor coffee roasters. We rented commercial space after-hours from Solstice Chocolate, where we used their winnower to remove the husk from the beans. We then spent a week rotating our batches in 3 mini tabletop grinders, looking for the right balance of flavors and smoothness and making our best guess as to when we should pour the chocolate. Once we finished the refining stage, half the batch was tempered using a tempering machine. When the machine couldn't handle how little chocolate we had left, we were incredibly lucky to have our friend, Lance Brown from The Cacao Bean Project, hand-temper the rest. Aside from the temper help, we are happy to report that we made this bar entirely ourselves. Hooray!

When all was said and done, and the bars were packaged, we weren't sure what to think. We had just spent a couple weeks tasting our chocolate non-stop, and our clarity on whether it was good was slipping. We thought, "Well, it's smooth, and it has held some of its interesting characteristics. We just hope people like it."

Then, in preparation for this booklet, we tasted all the different makers’ bars, and perhaps it was the order of the tasting, but something magical happened when we tried ours. Flavors of red grape, mango, papaya, pomegranate, and sweet candy came flooding in. Our eyes went wide with excitement. That was a proud moment when it all came together. And perhaps we are biased, but we couldn't be happier. Maybe this is the start of something.

Emily KoonsComment