Category Archives: Dominican Republic

The New Taza Chocolate Flavors are Out!

Letters molded into Taza Organic Chocolate Disks

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m a big fan of Taza Chocolate with their innovative approach to chocolate making and their socially- responsible business model.  Taza Chocolate is a small bean-to-bar organic chocolate maker located in Somerville, Mass that  makes a stone-ground style of chocolate that wowed me with its bright fruit flavors and intriquing texture when I reviewed it last year.  So when they announced the release of two new Chocolate Mexicano flavors – Coffee  and Salt & Pepper, I couldn’t wait to give them a try.

Why did Taza choose these two flavors to introduce?  They had originally developed a handful of new flavors  and then held tasting sessions with customers to decide which people liked best.  Rather than some willy-nilly decision, they chose these flavors because people really liked them.  It’s that simple.

Now that’s all well and good, but what I really want to know is will I like them?

Tasting Taza Coffee Chocolate Mexicano

Taza T

here are other excellent coffee bars out there such as Theo’s Coffee Dark Chocolate from their Phinney Fantasy Flavor line, but what sets Taza apart is that it is all done on the back drop of their unique stone-ground minimally processed chocolate.  Taza takes a minimally-processed approach, skipping much of the refining and conching that normally gives chocolate that smooth, melt-in-your mouth texture.  What you get with these guys is something of a rustic texture with much more of the vibrant fruit flavors of the raw cacao preserved in the final chocolate.  To that base chocolate, they add a custom-roasted organic coffee beans.   Counter Culture Coffee’s 21st de Septiembre beans are Direct Trade certified and nice match to Taza’s low-roasted fruity cacao.

WHAT:  Taza Coffee Chocolate Mexicano,  50% Cacao. 75g bar.  Ingredients:  Organic roasted cacao beans, organic cane sugar, and organic coffee.  Where to buy Taza Coffee Mexicano Stone Ground Chocolate.

WHEN:  September 11, 2010

 

Taza A

ROMA: Banana, red wine, leather, ripe pear and, of course,…coffee.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: thin at first, starting out with sugar then opening up to caramel and cedar.

MIDDLE TASTE:  Now the classic Taza fruit appears – mostly strawberry with some blueberry notes.  Caramel latte, citrus – something like orange liqueur, hemlock .

FINISH: A smooth wave of coffee comes on the finish along with caramel and oats.  The end of the finish is a pleasant lingering coffee taste that’s not like what you get from taking a sip of coffee.  There’s less acid on the pallet and more balanced roasted caramel and coffee.  My only criticism would be that the start of the finish is a little sweet for my taste, but the end is so enjoyable and long, that it makes it all worth while.

TEXTURE:  Rustic and genuine with an occasional crunch of what I think are coffee beans.

Tasting Taza Salt & Pepper Chocolate Mexicano

WHAT:  Taza Salt & Pepper Chocolate Mexicano,  55% Cacao. 75g bar.  Ingredients:  Organic roasted cacao beans and organic cane sugar.  Where to buy  Taza Salt & Pepper Stone Ground Chocolate.

WHEN:  September 25,  2010 [1]

AROMA:  Banana, buttered corn, light mint.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Warm buttered toast, light cinnamon, salt.

MIDDLE TASTE:  Luscious, coating the tongue in a warm savory layer of chocolate, sweet baked ham, and yes, some saltiness, but it’s balanced. The classic Taza berry notes are there in the form of overripe strawberries, but are less intense than usual.

FINISH:  There’s a savory quality on the finish unlike any other Taza bar.  Taza’s usually bright berry notes have been replaced or partly veiled by this umami-like savoriness that hangs on the pallet for a delightfully long time. At the very end of the finish, there is black pepper, lying in wait and then jumping out to remind us that it was there all along.

TEXTURE: The unique and now familiar Taza rustic style with some grains of black pepper.

LAST BITE:

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Z

en is the word at Taza with their beautifully simple approach that somehow gives birth to these bold and sometimes complex flavors while still staying grounded.  This is just salt and pepper plus chocolate, right? Somehow it’s way more than that because you’re taking a unique sytle of chocolate and mixing it with familiar things to create something surprising.

The Salt and Pepper clearly gets the most points for its extra long finish with a savory quality unlike any other Taza bar.  This savory flavor is most likely the result of the salt combining with the cocoa butter in the chocolate, but no matter why it happens, it feels great.  Even though the trademark Taza fruitiness may be the best thing they have going for them, I enjoyed this unexpected diversion – trading umami for fruit.

Taza A

t the end of the day, it was a close call, but the Coffee may be my favorite of the Mexicano Disks.  I get the berry fruit I love plus the aroma and unexpected orange-liqueur notes with the counter note of coffee.  If you want to plan your own little private tasting, Taza now has upwards of eight different Chocolate Mexicano disks and four organic dark chocolate bars to choose from.

Notes:

[1]  I’ve been very busy lately, so I’m a little behind on my tastings.  Had to take the salt& pepper on a road trip to do the tasting and now just finishing the writing.  Tasting all this chocolate is hard work!

[2] Taza was nice enough to send me these chocolates without knowing what I would do with them.  I am happy to provide my objective and unbiased review using the same methods that I’ve applied to the previous reviews on Koko Buzz.
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Taza Stone Ground, Chocolate Mexicano – Yerba Mate

Taza Yerba Mate redbg JPEG_LRGI’ve become a big fan of Taza Chocolate.  It’s part loyalty to the only bean-to-bar producer here in Boston, if not the east coast, and part admiration for the innovation they’ve introduced to the world of premium chocolate.  These guys innovated not by adding some new complex process to chocolate making, but by simplifying the usual “modern” process.  Specifically, they do no conching and less refining than most producers so that the courser stone-ground texture comes through in the final product.  But it’s not all about the texture. Rather, the goal is to preserve the natural fruity character of the original bean through minimal processing.  By starting with high quality beans and employing a light roast, they achieve thier goal with beautiful simplicity.

To be clear, this is a traditional process, not a new invention in that sense.  What is new is the unexpected addition of the yerba mate flavor to the Taza line.  They give no particular explanation for why yerba mate, but it seems pretty consistent with their Latin American theme.

Yerba mate is a tropical herb and the tea made from it is considered to be the national drink in many South American countries. It contains both theobromine (the same mild stimulant found in chocolate) and caffeine in levels about half of that of coffee (that is, for the same volume of tea). So, you can expect some caffeine in this chocolate. Some of the compounds in Yerba mate are thought to have beneficial health effects. For instance, recent research shows that saponins have a stimulating effect on the immune system. Numerous studies have found Yerba Mate to have significant antioxidant activity and one Swiss study found that it also had potential as a weight-loss aid.**

But, I didn’t eat this stuff to get healthy, I ate it to see how it tastes, so let’s take a look…

WHAT:  Taza Stone Ground, Chocolate Mexicano – Yerba Mate. USDA Organic. 77g bar. Ingredients: organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic yerba mate powder.  Price range: $$  Where to buy.

WHEN: 30 September, 2009

OVERALL RATING: 82

AROMA: Seaspray, nori, vanilla, hemlock.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Pine, black tea, caramel.

MIDDLE TASTE: Raspberry, orange peel, black tea with lemon, blackberries covered with sugar.

FINISH:  Mint, sweet egg custard,  there’s strawberry shortcake flavor that lingers and fades slowly.

TEXTURE:  A rustic, coarse texture that we’ve come to expect from this stone ground process.

LAST BITE –   What I liked most was the big rise of herbals in the middle – definitely more black tea than green tea.  There’s a mix of berries, cake with herbals that somehow works.  The finish was unexpected – even though the chocolate was gone from my mouth, waves of berry and herb / mint kept coming.

(**Note: these statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease).

Disclosures:  I paid for this chocolate myself.