Category Archives: Taza Chocolate

Taza Ups the Ante: Orange vs. Ginger Organic Dark Chocolate

Taza Orange and Ginger Organic Chocolate

New flavors from Taza – Orange and Ginger Organic Dark Chocolate

I’ve been searching for ginger-flavored chocolate that goes beyond the familiar Chocolove commonly found at upscale grocery stores and bookshops.  What do I have against Chocolove?  After all, when I conduct tastings in my chocolate class, Chocolove’s Crystallized Ginger in Dark Chocolate often rises up as a crowd a favorite.  Well, Chocolove uses Belgian couveture chocolate and I find much, but not all, Belgian couveture is overworked to the point of moving a bit too far down the road towards tastelessness.

The other American masters at melting couveture and blending with flavors – Vosges Chocolate – simply don’t have a ginger bar despite their prolific assortment of flavors.  Don’t get me wrong, you can get good results melting couveture (chocolate made in someone else’s factory and bought in bulk) into bars, but it’s got to be great couveture [1].  In contrast, Taza’s chocolate is organic and made bean-to-bar using a direct trade model of working with cacao farmers.  That’s the direction that I’d like to see things go – more control of the chocolate making though involvement in all parts of the process and more sustainable practices in an industry that has had a so-so track record over the last century.

Taza Orange and Ginger Organic Dark Chocolate

The color of the bars is nearly the same, but Taza seems to be investing in new molds with shallower letters (on top) that are easier to fill

When Taza introduced their new Stone Ground Mexicano flavors earlier this year, two bars that leaped out from the new offering were the Orange Chocolate Mexicano and the Ginger Chocolate Mexicano.  Those of you that have been following Taza know that the Mexicano disks were originally created with 55% cacao.  What you may not know is that they started this way so that people could enjoy them two ways: simply nibbling on the bars or mashing them up into a rich drinking chocolate – just like the tradition of solid bars made in parts of Europe and Latin America.

But the new bars depart from that original path by sporting a higher cacao content of 70%.  I asked Taza co-founder, Larry Slotnick, about the new direction and he explained:  “What became clear with the success of the mexicano discs was that folks were eating these discs much more frequently than melting them into a chocolate beverage. They found the chocolate flavor just so robust due to the quality of the cacao we use and the minimal refining, that even traditional ‘dark chocolate’ consumers were really wowed by the intensity.  Thus, we decided to expand the line with a tweak of the cacao percentage to give a wide swath of ‘dark chocolate’ eaters the minimum cacao percentage they often look for ….”  Placing myself squarely in this swath, I needed to give these new bars a taste.

Taza Organic Dark Chocolate Review

WHAT:  Taza Ginger Chocolate Mexicano.  70% Cacao. (2.7oz). Ingredients: Organic roasted cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic ginger powder.   Taza Orange Chocolate Mexicano.  70% Cacao. (2.7oz).  ingredients: Organic roasted cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic orange oil.

Where to buy Taza Organic Dark Chocolate.

WHEN: October 10, 2011

OVERALL RATING: Ginger: 82.  Orange: 85.

AROMA:  Ginger:  strawberry and, um, ginger.  Orange: tobacco, pine honeysuckle.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:  Ginger:  strawberry, grass, herbals.  Orange: light citrus.

MIDDLE TASTE: Ginger: ginger, berry, citrus  Orange: clean orange – not sticky cream-sickle sweet, but crisp and clear.  Some cedar and berry.

FINISH:  Ginger: lemongrass, ginger.  The finish is the best part where the chocolate and ginger stop competing and come into balance.   Orange: citrus and cacao acid come into focus at the end.  Otherwise, the orange  is somewhat hidden by the chocolate until now.  Some grassy mushroom at the very end.  The ginger is a bit cleaner in the finish but you could say the orange has more complexity.

TEXTURE:  Both have the trademark Taza rustic texture that comes from their traditional stone ground method.

LAST BITE:  As far as the ginger bar goes, it’s not a substitute for Chocolove.  Which is only saying these are completely different bars with completely different styles.   The ginger bar get’s points for a clean finish and will appeal to those who enjoy more herbal notes.

For the orange bar, I was a little surprised by how light-handed they are with the orange flavor as if they wanted to avoid creating a clumsy caricature of a flavored bar.  I guess it’s all about the chocolate in the end and you don’t want to cover up something so good.  The verdict?  I liked the orange bar a tad more for the perception of complexity and balance of flavor, but I would place both in my top three favorite Taza mexicanos.

Notes:

[1] Couveture chocolate is normally used to prepare other confections such as truffles, bonbons and the like.  However, companies that are making blended bars remelt other people’s couveture and mold the new mixture into bars.  This chocolate often comes from Belgium since it’s the home of a few very large producers of couvture.  For more, see Koko Lingo.

[2] I paid for this chocolate myself.

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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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