Although Taza Chocolate went through a brief period of experimentation with cacao sourced from Chiapas, Mexico, they have since exclusively used cacao beans from the La Red Guaconejo cooperative in Dominican Republic. So when Taza sent me this new 87% dark chocolate bar, I was surprised to see that it was single-origin Bolivia and equally interested to learn how it compared to their other dark chocolates. Regardless of the bean supplier, Taza uses a model they call Direct Trade where they work directly with the cacao growers and pay them fairly for their beans. They have also employ third-party certification to confirm not only that the prices paid are fair, but provide assurances on social issues: “We only develop relationships with cacao producers who grow their crop in a manner that respects the rights of workers and the environment.”
Those of you already familiar with Taza know their stone-ground approach creates a rustic style of chocolate that preserves more of the bright, bold flavors of the original bean. Could they achieve the same impressive results starting from different beans?
Tasting Taza 87% Stone Ground Organic Chocolate
WHAT: Taza 87% Stone Ground Dark Chocolate. 87% Cacao. 85 g (3.0 oz). Ingredients: Organic Bolivian cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic vanilla bean. Gluten, soy and dairy free. USDA Certified Organic. Kosher Pareve.
Where to buy Taza 87% Dark Chocolate Online.
WHEN: January 28, 2012 OVERALL RATING: 81.
AROMA: The aroma was the best thing going. Intense herbs, leather, coconut, cedar and tea.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: A quick flash of strawberry.
MIDDLE TASTE: Blueberry sitting on top of intense leather, mint, sour apple…
FINISH: Berry turns into gripping, potent cacao that eventually calms down into notes of nutmeg, buttered toast, roasted ham, roses, malt…
TEXTURE: Typical rustic Taza texture without the noticeable sugar granules that some of the Mexicano disks have.
LAST BITE: One thing I like about Taza is that they keep it real. They could make all sorts of claims around “raw chocolate” since their beans are minimally processed, but most of us already know that dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols and thought to provide a host of health benefits. They could claim that the high cocoa content is healthier than other bars (it probably is), but they don’t. They just provide a great honest product and let you decide what it does for you.
For me, I found this chocolate satisfying and nourishing. I always test new chocolates first thing in the morning so that my palate is fresh. This day, I needed to rush out the door to my kids’ swimming lessons and forgot to eat breakfast, and I always eat breakfast. It wasn’t until both kids were in the pool that I realized that I hadn’t eaten. The third of a bar was enough to get me half-way through the morning. I’m not advocating a breakfast of pure chocolate, as appealing as that may sound, but there is something nourishing about this bar. If it’s chocolate you crave, you get a satisfying fill of intense cocoa without too much sugar.
For others, I suspect it fills a need to experience big, bold, intense chocolate. I gave this bar a good score of 81, but if you seek extra dark chocolate, then you can call this one a 90 – 95. I found that it had somewhat less fruit than their other bars like the 70% or 80% stone ground dark chocolates that use Dominican cacao. Still, the extra intensity was very satisfying. Putting the numbers aside, if you like Taza’s style, this is a good way to see what’s new at one of the few bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the USA.
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