February 2014 Bean to Bar Tastings {Review – Cocoa Runners Parcel}

I adore chocolate. I think it’s well documented here how much I love love love chocolate. I’m greedy when it comes to the cocoa rich gold.  I came across Cocoa Runners from taking part on the Chocolate Tour around Mayfair and straight away I knew I needed to take part.

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Each month, four or five carefully selected beautifully wrapped artisan chocolate bars are posted through your letter box, with individual tasting notes about the chocolate (chocolate has over 400 different flavour compounds making it much more complex than wine) and the bars maker. There’s even a little square of extra chocolate to share with your friends – pfft like you would share your chocolate with others.

There has been a change over the years to single origin chocolate bars becoming popular and supporting artisan bean to bar chocolates which personally I really like. Don’t get me wrong in the past I’ve scoffed down cheap sugary, veg oil ridden bars to get a sugar high.  But times are a changing and over the years so is my palate. I thought that I  just liked dark chocolate (being a massive chocolate snob when someone broke out the milk chocolate) but taking part in a chocolate tasting at Paul.A Young did I realise how very wrong I was. Milk chocolate can have equally complex and deep flavour as a cocoa solid rich dark bar.

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When signing up to Cocoa Runners, there is an option to just be sent dark chocolate but I’ve opted for the mix boxes too, mainly out of not wanting to miss out of a great milk chocolate. All the chocolate is made small producers with tend to go above fair trade for their work – so actually it’s guilt free chocolate. These aren’t your average high street chocolate bars.  There is also a chocolate library on their website for you to buy extra bars of your favourite tried bars (excuse to try more than once a month :-))

Do you want to see what bars I got this month? Of course you do you scamps.

Firstly, is the ultra sexy Marou Tien Giang 70% from Vietnam set up by two Frenchmen whilst travelling across Vietnam and a mutual love of chocolate.  I was surprised to find a bar from Vietnam in the parcel as it doesn’t tend to come up as a major chocolate producer. I just love the sexy packaging and the chocolate matches. I got a smooth coffee and honey flavour from the rich bar, a real treat.

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Menakao 44% Milk Chocolate, by producing the bar entirely on Madagascar brings the local economy four times the income of Fair Trade chocolate. Again guilt free chocolate. Smooth, with a slight hint of vanilla, not the cheap over powering vanilla used to mask the poor quality beans. My mum thought it had a nice caramel note to it and was my dads favourite of the four bars.

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Original Beans Beni Wild Harvest, made from wild cocoa in north-eastern Bolivia, small in size but big in flavour. To protect this process the founder has arranged for every bar sold, they plant a tree in the Bolivian rainforest. A very smooth mouthfeel but a subtle flavour, nothing largely standing out other than a slight citrus undertone.

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Pacari Raw 70% a raw chocolate bar produced entirely in Ecuador. I tried some of Pacari’s at Paul. A Young tasting as was a fan then so knew I was in for a treat. Being a raw chocolate the beans never reach higher than 42C, with a high antioxidant content – super food! A coarser mouth feel than the other bars, but what was amazing was the topical pinaeapple flavour, a really interesting bar to have a square of at a time.

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I have carefully saved most of the bars to have a treat when I need a pickup. I think the Marou Tien Giang isn’t going to last long. Bring on the next parcel next month.

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