It could be said that if you wanted to see who is new in the world of ‘bean to bar’ chocolate that you should just keep an eye on Kickstarter. It’s great that there’s a new worldwide passion for authentic chocolate, and there is a certain amount of intrigue in seeing how people start to commercialise what they do. Of course their offerings are not going to be as polished as seasoned professionals – well that’s why they need the funding. It seems that most new entrants seem to either get the chocolate right, or the marketing, rarely both. The one maker that I think did an excellent job is Bryan, whilst Katie gave it a good shot, but what about Ian’s first retail bars?
Firstly, Ryan states that he’s been making chocolate for a number of years for family, so I’m sure he would have sorted the roasting protocols that Katie struggled with given her milk bar. The cacao used comes from the Dominican Republic so we should expect yellow fruit flavours. Interestingly, however, these flavours are more present in the lower cacaos than the higher. For instance, this 70% has a lovely focused acidity, it’s jammy and tart – whilst the sweetness definitely does come through along with some floral notes. It’s not massively expressionate, but still very enjoyable.
The 85% actually seems a completely different beast. It tastes more metallic. It has more a ‘raw’ flavour profile from those tannin tones. As there’s less of a sugar profile I prefer this one. Too there is a definite blackcurrant tone with perhaps an edge of Port. I don’t know if the conch time is less here compared to the 70% but I just get that feeling as even through there is less of a noticeable ‘sugar’ profile, it does actually seem less acidic that the 70%.
The Kea 45% milk was very unusual. It had a ‘vegetable draw’ kind of profile – full of ‘fibre’. As I stuffed more in my mouth it came across as ‘bubble-gum’ with an over-riding sense of ‘strawberry’. Quite uniquely I actually enjoyed this one more than the darks as it had a more pronounced offering. As we stepped into the 34% this was most definitely too sweet for me. But if you looked beyond that and focused on the flavours produced then it most definitely is that of banana and tropical fruits – almost the fruit fruit mix you can buy in the supermarkets – but without the intensity of raisins.
Overall, I feel this is a fantastic first commercial effort and I’d like to see what Ian can do with other origins. But if you’re in the southern hemisphere certainly try and get some.