To me chocolate with a story tastes better than chocolate made with the sole purpose of making people in rich companies more money. Forever Cacao, a new and very small stone ground chocolate maker from the similarly small village of Guilsfield, Powys, Wales who have sourced what they and their cacao suppliers state is Criollo grown around the villages of Tinkareni and Coveja in central Peru. I naturally err on the side of caution when people make claims about beans Criollo but the level of information ecotribal go to detailing the heritage of their beans lessens my doubt. Indeed those Criollo trees were reportedly planted in those villages durning the 1970’s and 80’s have been supplemented with plans transplanted from the local habitat. Whether we have Criollo or not is a moot point. The two factors that I deem important here are the flavour and how much good people buying it actually makes to the grower communities.
One thing we are told is that ecotribal do pay over the odds for the beans with the sole purpose of making cacao production a sustainable crop for those local communities and I have no doubts from my research that is actually the case. We live in a world where large companies make all sorts of fictitious and doubtful claims to appear ethical when in the greater scheme of things they actually care very little about the right people – and this only harms the companies such as Forever Cacao and others trying to protect the livelihoods of growers and the long-term supply of heirloom/quality cocoa.
Of course the Forever Cacao’s packaging is basic. Designing and producing eye-catching packaging is a luxury many new chocolate makers can’t afford. The mould itself is similarly rudimentary, the finish imperfect, but to its credit, it did have a lovely shine. The aroma does have the typical magnesium edge that much ‘raw’ chocolate offers, but after you’ve tried a fair amount of raw chocolate it becomes less of a distraction.
The flavour at first I found revolutionary at first. It was far sharper and acetic than other ‘raw’ chocolate I’ve tried. After two or three squares, however, it mellowed out and the other elements of the cacao shone through. At the forefront there were certainly doses of cherry, but behind that lurked tobacco, almond and a hint of caramel. It never loses its tartness completely and still carries magnesium throughout the melt which is to its credit. And for a finish you should be able to pick up some good pinewood notes.
Overall it’s encouraging to see that chocolate makers are striving to make non-mainstream chocolate in an ethical fashion that is more focused on sustainability than playing lip-service to ethics. I wish Pablo well.
Also, for those that have dietary information is important, this chocolate is fairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans.