Nina’s Nuance 72% Sacha Ecuadorian

And now time for another guest review from @smear_campaign

Fair Trade. A great idea bastardised into a guilt relief strategy employed by big supermarkets and food brands to help them mop up the tiny percentage of shoppers who wouldn’t buy anything else. An incidental bonus “oh look – its fair trade too!” long after the buying decision has already been made. A fair market price isn’t necessarily a good price. There’s still too much room in a fair trade supply line for the wrong people to get rich.

These are some of the reasons that I am getting quite evangelical about this 50g bar of “Nina’s Nuance” 72% Sacha Ecuadorian medium dark chocolate by Kallari. Kallari are a cooperative collation of no less than 850 Amazon artists and organic cocoa producers. They control production to distribution, and enjoy four times the fair trade price for their products. Smart, and dignified.
This bar speaks emotional maturity before you even touch it, with a well-executed matte maroon cardboard box printed with matte black ink. Flip the bar and we learn that Nina means “fire” in Kichwa; a nod to the spices in this hot chilli and wild cinnamon treat.

The six ingredients are listed, along with a full range of nutritional data. The maths must have come from a Millennium Dome budget planner as we’re told the 50g bar has two servings, and a serving weighs 35g. Even if the latter is true, there’s no escaping that this pleasure couldn’t be any more guilty if it were produced by Michael Shields, OJ Simpson and Louise Woodward.
The 8g saturated fat per portion and addictive taste put us at risk of needing a local fire crew to one day cut us from our bedrooms where we’ll have spent the last 6 years with a carer who rubs savlon into our ulcerated obese bodies. It’s enough sugar to give you early onset type 2 diabetes. It’s enough fat to start up a Nandos franchise. Never mind spices; they need to grind up some statins and clot busting drugs and throw them in. However, it’s enough fat to make this bar so exquisitely tasty, it’s worth a below the knee amputation.

Open the box and the bar is wrapped up incredibly neatly in a fine piece of white slightly waxed paper. Like shopping in a smart cheese shop, these guys realise that this food needs to breathe, not sweat. You can smell this wonderful bar without unwrapping it and it has no shame about its classy fruit-tobacco like nose. Try not to think about what the paper could be stuck down with. This is a very dark looking chocolate for 72%. After seconds in the mouth this bar shows it’s rich and mature, with a flavour that spreads across the mouth quicker than the Big C heading to lymph nodes.

Nina’s Nuance 72% Sacha EcuadorianHere’s a chocolate with personality. As it melts, there’s a sensational sequence of flavours that seem to accurately target distinct areas of the mouth and throat. I instantly think of a dark sky filled with fireworks as if the chilli, cinnamon, butter, vanilla and unrefined sugar somehow combine in the mouth to make a coherent show that unfolds. The levels of each flavour are almost perfect. Mild to moderate chilli heads to the back of the throat with a superbly crystal clear flavour that seems to completely bypass the tongue. Cinnamon stays at the front. The texture is hard, and there’s a seam of grit that could be either the chilli or the cinnamon. In the mouth it’s like sucking a small cube of frozen butter; very quickly transitioning from hard to liquid.

There’s not more than a hint of bitterness, and the sweet, creamy flavours leave me thinking it’s a great choice for people who are mostly milk chocolate fans.

This bar begs you to share it or even give it as a gift, pleading with a desperation only matched by David Van Day’s desire to have a singing career. I want to prod whoever is next to me and say “oooooh try this”, and then I want to order a dozen bars for stocking fillers and a dozen more for cooking and even drinking. leads to a maze of information that suggests this fantastic bar might already have been discontinued and replaced with a range of three chocolate bars; none laced with spices. Google and dig further and it turns out a hand full of London stores stock Kallari, but it seems so hard to get hold of, Alan Sugar would consider buying a bar to be an unreasonably difficult Apprentice task. The going rate is $3.50; unsettlingly cheap for such a special bar. This is definitely worth tracking down, in bulk if necessary, as only the British Heart Foundation would be displeased to receive one as a gift.

  • Taste: Taste 92% – It doesn’t get much better than this for chocolate with spices.
  • Texture 86% – Perfect to break, melts wonderfully, but the grittiness is distracting.
  • Nutritional Info: 65% – Full analysis and warnings about what it may contain traces of. Portion size maths has failed but there’s about as much as you can comfortably fit onto this small bar. Wealth of information on the website.
  • Price 70% – £2.20 per 50g bar converting $ to £. This blows much more expensive bars out of the water like Thatcher sinking the Belgrano.
  • Overall: 78.25%

  • Kelsey

    Chocolate lovers everywhere: Keep an eye on this company. Not only are they one of the few totally farmer-owned chocolate companies in the world (I can attest, I have been a volunteer with them for years now in Ecuador and in the States) but they produce some of the best chocolate in the world (once again, I can attest, since I am a chocolate buyer for a small gourmet foods shop). Nina’s Nuance really is one of the best, but check out their line of basic bars that are inexpensive and call to mind all the flora and fauna of the beautiful Ecuadorian Amazon. And I think you will see more spice in the upcoming years, trust me… Thanks for this review!