Just like Bob and Pam Cooper who moved to Hawaii from the US mainland and then set up a chocolate company, Jo and Chris Beaumont moved from the UK to Belize and after ten years working as a windsurfing and sailing instructors stumbled upon cacao at the Toledo Chocolate Festival where they bought a sack and took it home and after six months experimentation started to make and sell chocolate – what a wonderful story.
And to say I’m jealous is a complete and utter understatement! Looking at photos of the area it looks absolutely fantastic. But obviously you’re not going to get cacao growing so close to the sea, instead the cacao comes from a variety of family run small-holdings in Southern Belize, probably in the Toledo district with the use of cacao from the Toledo Cacao Growers’ Association. And it’s this small-scale nature that I find so appealing, and to have the UK exclusive on this chocolate, even more so.
What I just love about this story is that within a few short months someone can go from having a basic knowledge of cacao to the production of chocolate for restaurants and wine shops within Belize. Even more inspiring is their dedication to provenance – each bar has a batch number which allows them to tie in each bar to a particular origin of cacao.
I loved the packaging because it’s actually created by students of a British design school and resembles the Godiva colours, size of bar and shininess of the wrapper. I also loved the fact that they named the bars after the Belizean word for cacao: Kakaw.
Within this wrapper you’ll find ten squares of a very dark brown chocolate, each of which offers a great, intense flavour that reminds me greatly of the Czekolada Waniliowo-Mleczna bar from Manufaktura Czekolady. With this bar there’s a real journey. The flavours wash in and out. Sometimes you’ll get orange zest notes, other times it’ll be paprika and then coffee but throughout the whole melt there’s a consistent caramel tone.
It also tastes as though the cacao has been fermented for a very long time as its got a strange top note that curls around the other flavours like “over ripe” bread. It’s not unpleasant, but just more rustic, than the mass-produced stuff I expect most people have come to expect. If you’re a lover of real dark chocolate doesn’t offer extreme smoothness then you’ll greatly enjoy this bar – unless you’re too “posh” to try something made by people new to the industry.
The texture is also wonderful when it starts to melt, but at first feel it’s a touch dry – again this is because it’s not filled with a great deal of rubbish and rolled and conched within an inch of its life.
The aroma is incredibly powerful and not at all shy, which all leads to delightful experience that has served as a wonderful distraction from all boring chocolate I get to taste this time of year.
[Update: I should have noted that the transportation may have caused a touch of dryness as has been the case with other chocolate delivered via airmail. It’s no big thing, given when they export it over here it’ll be done using the proper technology.]