Category Archives: Madecasse Chocolate

Madecasse Arabica Coffee Milk Chocolate 44% Cocoa Review

Madecasse Arabica Coffee Milk Chocolate

Madecasse now makes a small 25g bar shown next to the full size bar. The back side is loaded with cacao nibs while the front has smooth squares with a color deep enough to be dark chocolate.

The package says “A dark milk chocolate with a coffee crunch.” I’ve heard this oxymoron before – “dark milk chocolate,” and always found it a bit perplexing.  Is this a dark chocolate or a milk chocolate and why can’t it make up its mind?  Well it contains milk, so by definition, it’s simply milk chocolate.  Some chocolate makers like to say “dark milk chocolate” to highlight the high 44% cocoa content compared to, say, a cheap, commonplace milk chocolate bar you might find at the pharmacy.

This is no commonplace bar.  Madecasse has created a blend of cacao nibs and chocolate, both from Madagascan trees and tossed in some shade grown coffee from the mountains of Madagascar.  Unexpected, yes, but how does it taste?

TASTING single-origin Madagascar CHOCOLATE

WHAT:  Madecasse Arabica Coffee Milk Chocolate.  44% Cacao. 25 g mini bar. Ingredients: Sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, Arabica coffee, soy lecithin, vanilla powder, sea salt.

Where to buy Madecasse Chocolate Online.

WHEN:  June 21, 2012                                OVERALL RATING:  78.

AROMA:  Coffee dominates the nose with a fresh percolated scent. Behind it is some oak and molasses.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Coffee and wine.

MIDDLE TASTE: The coffee is still there along with molasses, butter, and orange cream-sickle.

FINISH:  The two-part finish starts with smooth coffee milk and ends with nuts, celery and light wood.

TEXTURE:  The nibs add a lot of crunch, of course, but they seem to be ground finer than in most nib bars.

LAST BITE:  I think it was a good call for Madecasse to choose milk chocolate for this bar so that the chocolate and coffee don’t compete too much.  Ironically, I think this bar in search of an identity will win over more dark chocolate lovers than milk chocolate lovers.  It’s sort of like dropping a shot of whiskey into your glass of iced rose and pretending it’s a refreshing summertime cooler.  It’s not.  This bar has some strong and complex flavors – a good thing.  Have fun with it.  For me, I’d rather go with a real dark chocolate, so I’ll take the Sea Salt and Nibs Dark Chocolate bar any day as my favorite from Madecasse.

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Notes: I paid for this chocolate myself.

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Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs in Dark Chocolate

Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs Dark Chocolate

Each piece has a healthy amount of nibs. I ate this much and more for the worthy cause of this review.

Madecasse Chocolate

Madecasse [1] chocolate has come a long way since I first reviewed their 67% and 75% bars more than a year ago.  Since then, they’ve added three bars to their line and revamped their package design twice.  Before we dive into the tasting, here’s a little reminder of what Madecasse is all about.

They’re making tree-to-bar chocolate on the island nation of Madagascar.  To my knowledge, there is only other company making tree-to-bar chocolate, where the cacao is grown and transformed into chocolate within the same country – The Grenada Chocolate Company.  This breaks from the long-established commodity model of importing cacao beans to Europe where they are made into chocolate.   The point of the tree-to-bar approach is that more of the economic value is kept in the cacao-growing country where it can benefit the local economies.  Not only is a fair price paid for the premium cacao, but locals are employed to make the chocolate all the way down to the finished, packaged bar.

Located much further south from the equator than most cocoa growing countries Madagascar is blessed with a unique climate and growing conditions. These conditions provide for exquisite, fresh local ingredients for their chocolate.   While Madecasse has not paid for organic certification, organic farming methods are used, a no-brainer in a country that has a long heritage of small-scale farming that uses only natural mulch and composts for fertilizer.

The company was started by two former Peace Corps volunteers, Tim McCollum and Brett Beach, who work closely with farming cooperatives to provide access to training and equipment as well as encourage sustainable agriculture.  As a result, they are expanding the market for rural farmers and providing the local economy with 4x the impact of fair trade cocoa — an important mission considering the immense beauty of the Madagascan eco-system and that this is one of the poorest nations in the world.

Of the three new bars (Sea Salt and Nibs, 80% Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate),  I decided to taste the one I felt was the most intriguing – the Sea Salt and Nibs bar.  Cocoa nibs are added to dark chocolate then it’s all finished off with a sprinkling of  sea salt.

Tasting and Review:  Sea Salt and Nibs in Dark Chocolate

Madecasse Salt and Nibs in New Packaging with their "trademark" Natural Raffia Tie

Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs bar in the new packaging.

WHAT:  Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs Dark Chocolate,  63% Cacao. 75g bar.  Ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa

butter, cocoa nibs, sea salt, soy lecithin, vanilla.  Where to buy Madecasse Sea Salt & Nibs Dark Chocolate.

WHEN:  July 31, 2010

OVERALL RATING:  85

AROMA:  Plum, cantaloupe, vanilla, pancakes, caramel.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Cantaloupe and blueberry.  Light salt. Celery.  Approaches you with more dimension — having a savory food quality more like an hors d’oeuvre than a confection.

MIDDLE TASTE:  The main act is all buttered croissant.   Pear, cantaloupe, citrus, watermelon, almonds, candied yams and a faint hint of strawberry.  Very little fruit acid that you usually get from nibs and not much woodiness until later.

FINISH:  The finish is long, pleasant and low-lying with none of the dry pulpiness that is typical of nibs.  Milk, light herbals, almond milk, light wood.

TEXTURE:  You get the occasional crunch of nibs surrounded by smooth chocolate.

LAST BITE – For dark chocolate fans who are  ready for more adventure but not yet keen to pound down straight  nibs, this bar is a great choice.  It’s surprisingly unaggressive and smooth with almost no pulpy woodiness that I fully expected to find on the finish.  Madecasse brings us a bar that’s balanced, subtle and round.  My preference is for something  with more assertive fruit even at the expense of chewing on pulp at the very end of the finish, but  I need to

Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs in Dark Chocolate - the bottom of the bar shows off these crunchy bits of nibs

Madecasse Sea Salt and Nibs in Dark Chocolate - the bottom of the bar shows off these crunchy bits of nibs

give them a lot of credit for the care that went into achieving balance with this bar.  Don’t get me wrong – there are fruit notes here, but they are more subtle melon than berry.  Even the use of salt was judicious and understated.  What it lacks in pronounced fruit, it makes up for in approachable buttered croissant and almond notes that go long into the finish.  This buttered croissant character and the watermelon notes are uncommon in my experience and well worth exploring.

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Notes:

[1] Pronounced mah-DAY-cas

[2] Disclosures: I paid for this chocolate myself.