Category Archives: Grenada

The Old and the New: Grenada Organic Chocolate 71% Dark Chocolate

Sometime in the mid 90’s I bought a few bottles of Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon for about $15 a bottle[1].  The wine blew me away with great fruit and unexpected complexity, especially at that price.  When I went back to the wine shop a couple of weeks later, the price had suddenly risen to $18, but I still bought a few more bottles of what was clearly a great find.  With a little help from The Wine Spectator, Hess Collection was eventually discovered by the masses.  Within a year prices rose into the mid $20’s and finally to where it is today at $48.

With wine, you never know if the next year will be as good (or as cheap), so you’re best off to grab more fast if you find something you love.  So it was with the Grenada Chocolate Company’s 71% Dark Chocolate bars.  At NewLeaf Chocolates, we grabbed a ton of this stuff last year in our overwhelming and well-founded enthusiasm for an excellent chocolate and a great value.  Well, there is still some of this”old vintage” left, so I thought I’d compare it to the “new vintage” which has recently arrived [2].

Besides harvesting a new crop of cacao, our friends in Grenada have been busy doing some enhancements to the packaging to make them more environmentally friendly.  The labels are now printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks [4].  Add that to the fact that what’s inside the wrapper is organic chocolate made in a factory powered by solar energy and you can see why we love these guys for their sustainability.  But does the chocolate still taste as good as the 2009 vintage?  When I tasted the 2009 bar in an earlier post, I enjoyed the deep espresso and marshmallow-like flavors so much that I made it my daily chocolate for a while.  This time, I’ll compare the two side by side to see what’s new.

Vintage 2009:  Grenada 71% Organic Dark Chocolate

Vintage 2009: Grenada 71% Organic Dark Chocolate still delivers coffee and marshmallow flavors we love

Vintage 2010 Grenada 71% Organic Dark Chocolate

Vintage 2010 Grenada 71% Organic Dark Chocolate with new eco-friendly label

Tasting Grenada Chocolate Company’s 71% Dark Chocolate

Since I’ve reviewed the 2009 bar before, I’m going to approach this a little differently than usual and just call out the differences between the two.

WHAT:  Grenada Chocolate Company – Organic Dark Chocolate, 71% Cacao.  “Vintage 2009” and Vintage “2010”   bars.  85g (3oz).  Ingredients:  Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, fresh organic cocoa butter, organic soy lecithin, organic vanilla beans.  Where to buy  Grenada 71% Dark Chocolate.

WHEN:  August 12, 2010

AROMA:  Both bars are more or less the same with more coconut than I noticed before.  Then there are those beautiful coffee notes with a bit of leather.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:    Both bars have warm espresso and cappuccino flavors on the approach.  The 2010 vintage offers a new note – a bit of melon, like honeydew.

MIDDLE TASTE:  The 2009 has more going  on in the coffee department along with some cinnamon, angel food  cake, apple and toast.  Thankfully, the 2010 still has that marshmallow, cappuccino and whipped creme thing coming through strong.

FINISH:  The 2009 vintage fades a little faster while the 2010 has a longer buttery finish with more vanilla and fruit.

TEXTURE:  The 2009 vintage was somewhat more pliable, but I think this is more “bar variation” than anything else.  I had eaten another 2009 bar last week and it was more snappy.  No real difference here in the whole  scheme of things.

LAST BITE – What I love about this chocolate (both vintages) is the intense coffee notes blending perfectly with a marshmallow and whipped creme sweetness that is not at all cloying.  I’m completely relieved that Grenada  was able  to pull it off again for the 2010 vintage.  Overall, the 2009 is a bit mellow and rounder while the 2010 is creamier in the middle with a longer finish making it even more attractive to a larger audience.

NOTES: [1] Not to be confused with Hess Select which is their lower-tier wine (still good stuff).  By the way, if you are in Napa Valley, the Hess Collection Winery (used to simply be called Hess) is a fantastic place to visit because you can both taste their wines and tour their fine art museum.  It’s a good way to slow down the pace if you are prone to fall for the squeeze-six-winery-tours-into-a-day approach.

[2] The 2009 vintage has been stored under impeccable conditions.  I’m convinced that these bars would still be tasting great for another year or two, but alas, they are all gone as we “go to print” with this story.

[3] I paid for all this chocolate myself.

[4] 50% recycled,  25% Post-consumer content.

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Grenada Chocolate Company Organic Dark Chocolate 71% Cacao

The Grenada Chocolate Company’s solar–powered factory sits in the Caribbean rainforest among lush cocoa groves. It’s here that the organically farmed cacao is transformed into gloriously complex chocolate. Grenada is able to achieve award–winning results through control and involvement in all steps of the process: from the farms in the cocoa growing cooperative to the bean fermentation process. The results are obvious in the deep complex flavors developed in the bars. The deep espresso, cream and vanilla flavors and aromas are dazzling.

Grenada Chocolate Company's Organic Dark Chocolate 71% Cocoa

Grenada Chocolate Company's Organic Dark Chocolate 71% Cocoa

The chocolate is certified organic with every ingredient being organic starting with, of course, the cacao, sugar, biodynamically grown vanilla from Costa Rica, and organic soy lecithin in very small amounts as an emulsifier (see Last Bite below for more on soy lecithin).  Grenada advertises: “all of our products are nut free – not a trace.”

Local involvement in this enterprise doesn’t stop with the cocoa farmers. Rather, the factory itself is run and owned by Grenadians. This takes the fair trade model even further and shares more of the benefits with the local population.

The only thing not to like about The Grenada Chocolate Company is they only make two bars:  a 71% and a 60% cacao.  At the same time, I have to admire focus.  The 71% bar won the silver medal at the 2008 Academy of Chocolate Awards for Best Dark Organic Bar.  I decided to see what this was all about by tasting a bar… or two.

WHAT:  Grenada Chocolate Company 71%. USDA Organic. 85g bar. Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, fresh organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla beans, organic soy lecithin (in very small amounts).  Price range: $$  Where to buy.

WHEN: I tasted a number of bars during September and October 2009

OVERALL RATING: 87

AROMA: Coconut, coffee, green beans.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Espresso and espresso and espresso- a real dark, rich, intense bar.

MIDDLE TASTE: Angle food cake, honey-ham, cinnamon, cloves, strawberries.

FINISH:  Toasted marshmallows, fresh light coffee, vanilla, whipped creme.  No astringency;  just a smooth ending.

TEXTURE:  Smooth and creamy.

LAST BITE –  The dominant themes were 1) COFFEE:  first espresso moving into cappuccino moving into light coffee at the end and 2) ANGLE CAKE – starting with a light toast plus berries, then the angle cake, then marshmallows.  This is my kind of chocolate – I like my coffee super-dark and without sugar.  This had the most potent coffee aromas I have come across in while, but still had the coveted fruitiness that I suppose helped win the silver medal.

Sometimes you’ll find smoky coffee notes in a chocolate that’s made from over-roasted beans.  In fact there are two ways to cover up the flavor of an inferior bean – over-roasting and adding extra vanilla.  There is no evidence of either evil digression in this chocolate.  Instead, the fruit notes of the bean shine through well and the vanilla blends in a complementary way – I didn’t even pick it up as one of the dominant flavors (although it’s probably part of what I sensed as “marshmallow”).  Again, judicious use of vanilla can enhance flavor and over-use is abuse.

Now I need to comment on the ingredients a bit.  Some people object to having any soy lecithin in their chocolate.  It’s there for a reason – to help fill the molds and stabilize the suspension of cocoa particles.  I can only speculate that because Grenada Chocolate has some elaborate artwork in the molds, that they are more difficult to fill.  I don’t personally object to soy lecithin as long as the amount is small and I can’t taste it.  It is a food (vegetable) based material after all.  As far as I can tell, the objections to soy lecithin come from a three  camps.  First, some people have concerns about soy in general because it contains natural phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in our bodies and may cause hormonal imbalances.  But this not soy; it’s lecithin and it’s not like eating a block of tofu.  To lump a tiny amount  of soy lecithin in with a general fear of soy seems misplaced.  I can’t see any reason for concern here.

Then there is the small percentage of the popluation that is  alergic to soy.   They have a legitimate conern, but fortunately most of these people  are  not allergic to soy lecithin since it is a by-product of making the oil.  The other concern might be that lecithin is often extracted from soy using solvents and these might also pull out and concentrate any pesticides in the soy.  Again, no worries, since we are dealing with organic soy lecithin in the Grenada bar.   Organic soy by definition doesn’t see any chemical pesticides!  On the other hand, the purist in me would prefer that they not use it – not because I have any health concerns at all, but because chocolate making is about chocolate and we know that other producers have done it without lecithin.  Although, others may have simpler patterns  in their molds, so let’s cut some slack here.

In the end, the taste trumps (almost) all else and this one is a winner.  They have the medal to prove it.

Disclosures:  I paid for these chocolates myself.