Friday, October 21, 2016

What's Up With Tomric Systems' New Nicaraguan Cocoa Beans? I've Tested, Tasted, and I'm Telling All About It.

The winners of the 2016 International Chocolate Awards were just announced, and Ingemann's Fine Cocoa from Nicaragua is showing up as the beans used in some winning bars. And many chocolate makers are wondering if these are the right cocoa beans for them to use in their chocolate? Well I can tell you to stop wondering! I've been testing four varieties of Ingemann's cacao in my little commercial kitchen and I can tell you: it is fantastic!

Here in North America, Tomric Systems (of Buffalo, NY) has partnered up with Ingemann to sell cacao in 5kg bags - perfect for the small craft chocolate maker or home chocolate making hobbyist. Also, the cacao is already pre-sorted and clean, and packed in air-tight plastic bags, saving one extra step for chocolate makers. Even better, you can buy online and the shipping is direct from a US distribution centre, so it is speedy and convenient, eliminating the worry about importing fees and restraints for American chocolate makers (and Canadian ones too, since I found shipping to be quite simple to my location). But if you want larger quantities, don't worry because Tomric also offers the beans in larger burlap sacks, with quantity discounts for larger orders.

The cacao supplied by Tomric, in partnership with Ingemann, comes in four flavours:

1. NicaFruity, a premium blend of beans from Nicaragua

2. Chuno Classico , a Trinitario-type caco from the Northern Highlands

3. Tenor, beans from the region of La Dalia, Matagalpa region.

4. O'Payo, the certified organic cacao offered by Ingemann and Tomric, consisting of beans from Waslala, Raan, on the UNESCO protected Bosawas Nature Reserve in the northern mountains of Nicaragua.

The tests went very well.  I decided to make 75% dark chocolate bars with a medium-to-dark roast and a 48 hour refining time.  I recalled that Chaleur's original run of sample bars from Ingemann were 80% and on the bitter side, which chocolate maker Dany Marquis had also acknowledged that perhaps a sweeter chocolate would be a better way to showcase the Ingemann beans. So I went a little sweeter, but not by much, to highlight the flavour of the beans and truly understand the taste of each variety.

At times, I wished I had made 70% chocolate bars, since I still found a strong bitterness to some of the chocolate that I made.  Although, once the chocolate had aged a bit, I found some of that bitterness wore off somewhat, and the flavours of each chocolate truly opened up.

I would consider buying any one of the four varieties of beans from Tomric.  As far as an organic bean goes, the O'Payo is quite nice, and offers no strong flavours that might affect the end result of the chocolate, should you be using it to make a couverture chocolate for truffles or confections.

Another great thing about this cacao, is that it comes from a reliable and completely traceable source. At Ingemann, they have helped over 400 producers start cocoa plantations, they use grafting programs to reproduce fine flavour cacao, and they focus on using the best methods of fermentation, drying, cleaning and sorting, and storage. The beans are all Trinitario-Acriollado - a Trinitario with Criollo genes (in case you're not familiar with cacao types, these are two bean types known for fine flavour). To top that off, Nicarargua is one of only nine countries recognized as 100% fine cocoa origin.

My flavour notes are below on each bean, as well as some recommendations on what you can pair them with, or suggested percentages for the chocolate.  Hopefully this helps other hobbyist or craft chocolate makers when trying to decide what bean to choose! 

For more information, or to buy any of these cocoa beans from Nicaragua, visit the Tomric website at Enjoy!

Notes on the Beans:

'Nica Fruity' or the Nicaraguan Premium Blend worked well with a dark roast and a 75% dark chocolate. The resulting chocolate was not in-your-face-fruity like a Madagascar or perhaps a Grenada, but that may have something to do with the dark roast that I applied to the chocolate, which could have muted some of the natural flavours. If I were to work with these beans again, I might go with a light roast to bring out the acidic nature of the bean and highlight the fruit flavours.  Although the chocolate I had made was quite good as a 75% dark roast. But for a different sort of palate, a sweeter 65% might also be nice on these beans to soften the bitterness and bring out the fruitiness. Find more information on the Tomric site here.

The Chuno Classico had a sweeter profile and a nice warm, roasted taste. Raisins and a hint of grape, orange with some taste of cream and cocoa. And also, an olive flavour reminiscent of other chocolate bars that I have tasted before, namely the Fiji bar by Chaleur B Chocolat.  You may have tried a 'Chuno' bean by Ingemann before and found a different flavour profile, but don't be confused! Ingemann produces five varieties under the Chuno name: Classico, Intenso, Esencia, Tradicional and Profundo. The Ingemann website provides information on each type of bean, as well as the length of fermentation and drying time. For instance, the Chuno Classico beans that I tested had a moderate fermentation time (as opposed to long or short) and a moderate drying time. You can also find a flavour profile graphic on the website, to help you along when tasting the beans or writing up a description of your chocolate.

I made a few 70% bars with no cocoa butter added, and it had a creamy texture and taste - and was fruitier - but yet left a dryness on the palate like a dry red wine might. Mouthfeel certainly benefits from the added cocoa butter, but has a robust enough flavour to get away with no cocoa butter to be a nice chocolate in the low 70% range. Overall, the Chuno made a very nice dark chocolate, with a good balance of bitter and sweet with 75% cocoa solids.

O'Payo - There is a bite to this chocolate, but not unpleasant. It is that acidic feel you get after eating a kiwi, which may be why the supplier described it as tasting like kiwi and pineapple. As the chocolate aged, I also started to taste some notes of purple grape. I also tasted this flavour in Tomric's sample 70% chocolate made from the same beans.

The notes of coffee, mentioned by Tomric in their info pack, I'll agree with. This might pair well with a coffee-flavoured chocolate bar, or might be used in an espresso truffle. I used my 75% dark O-Payo chocolate bar to make a meltaway-style truffle (a meltaway replaces the cream and butter in a traditional truffle with coconut oil) and added a dark-roast ground coffee to it, and it was delicious!

Tenor -  For me, it had a slight dried fruit, floral, and mild tangy clementine with an earthy aftertaste. The suppliers found "interesting floral notes with hints of red wine, wood and orange." After tasting it again, the red wine did stand out to me.  With 48 hours in the refiner, it wasn't notably bitter, but somewhat acidic (as compared to 35 hours in the refiner, when I pulled some chocolate out and made a few bars to test the differences (at 35 hours it was definitely more acidic and fruity). Again though, with the acidity, this chocolate might have benefited from a little more sugar - I think a 70% dark chocolate would have been delicious, and perhaps a dark-milk chocolate, and also made into a 60% dark chocolate for red wine truffles.

Summary Notes:

Although all the chocolate bars from Tomric's four beans had a similar theme of high cocoa taste, nuttiness and somewhat acidic, each one featured their own unique flavours. Every one of these chocolates got better with age, and truly all four stood out as interesting chocolate bars.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Recipe : Double Decker, Double Delicious!

I have been hanging on to a recipe for 'Cheesecake Brownies' for a few years now, always intending to make it but never getting around to it for some reason. But finally, I made it! And I am glad I did. But I felt the recipe did need a little work - with more chocolate brownie and less cheesecake - so I played around with it and ended up doubling the brownie and halving the cheesecake and voila! an amazing dessert was born.  So here is the recipe for Brownie Cheesecake (the end result of my experiments seemed to call for a flipping of the name).

With this cake, be prepared that you need to start at least 8 hours before serving it (or make one day in advance) because you need 2 hours of preparation, including one hour to freeze the base brownie layer and the entire cheesecake also needs to chilled thoroughly before slicing.

The original recipe was printed on a card by Galison New York ( and originally adapted from a recipe by Nicole Kaplan in Baking from the Heart: Our Nation's Best Bakers Share Recipes They Cherish for The Great American Bake Sale, Rosen (Broadway Books), 2004.

The Ultimate Brownie Cheesecake

Time: 1 hour, plus 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus cooling time (6 hours) before slicing. Cheesecakes are best made a day in advance of serving, and need to be very cold before slicing.

Brownie Layer Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1o cut/2 cup cup light brown sugar
10 ounces 70% dark chocolate
1/2 cup, plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Camino organic/Fair Trade brand)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup flour

Cream Cheese Layer Ingredients:
3 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Chocolate Ganache Topping Ingredients:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream

1. Grease a 9" or 10" round springform pan (I used 10") and line it with a round of parchment paper (to cut: place your pan on top of the parchment paper and draw a circle around the base of it, then cut it out. Grease your pan under the parchment paper and, once you place the parchment inside, grease the paper as well.

2. Place a pot on the stove with 1" of water in it. Bring to a simmer and turn down to Min. or level 1.
Place the first three ingredients of the brownie batter (butter, brown sugar, 10 ounces of chocolate) into either a stainless steel bowl, a medium sized pot (that fits over your pot of water) or glass bowl and place over the pot of barely simmering water on the stove. I find stainless steel works best. Heat and stir until fully melted.

3. Remove from heat, add sugar, eggs and cake flour. Mix with a hand mixer or immersion blender just until smooth.

4. Pour into the prepared pan. Freeze for 1 hour or longer until firm.

5. After an hour, preheat the oven to 350º F. Then combine the cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl, mix on medium until combined and smooth (no lumps), then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the beaters between each addition. Once combined, scrape the bottom of the bowl, then beat on high for 10 seconds to ensure there are no lumps left.  Pour into your prepared, chilled pan with the brownie layer in it.

6. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the cream cheese layer is golden and only jiggles a little in the middle when the pan is gently shaken.

7. Let cool for a half hour, and run a knife around the sides of the pan. Chill for at least 1 or 2 hours before adding the ganache topping.

To prepare the ganache:

1. Place the cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth (add back to microwave for 5 second intervals until fully melted).

2. Pour onto the top of the cake and push to the edges. Let drip down the sides for a delicious effect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Marou Chocolate Tasting Line-Up: A Delicious Way to Experience Vietnamese Cacao

Boy was it hot this summer. And humid. So after dealing with temperatures in the high 20s beginning in early June this year (believe me, that's pretty early for where I live in Canada!), and trying to make chocolaty treats with the air conditioner and dehumidifier running constantly, I can't even imagine how the chocolate makers at Marou Chocolat do it all year long in Vietnam. They are making chocolate in the country of origin - where the cocoa beans are grown.

I haven't had the opportunity to taste much of Marou's chocolate, only their Dong Nai 72% chocolate bar in January of 2015 (see review here) and Marou's Tien Gang 80% dark chocolate in February of the same year. But truthfully, other than remembering how beautiful the chocolate bars were, and how fruity the Dong Nai chocolate tasted, I didn't really remember much about the flavour or texture. This new line-up of four Marou chocolate bars, that I asked a friend to purchase for me from JoJo CoCo in Ottawa, is a perfect way to sample Marou's product offering.

The chocolate bars are more than simple single-origin chocolate bars; each chocolate is being made from cocoa beans grown in different regions of Vietnam. This is even more fun than the usual country-of-origin chocolate tastings because Marou showcases how regional differences can vary so significantly even within a small country. It is much like the amazing Nicaragua-tasting line-up made by Chaleur B Chocolat that I tasted earlier in the year. The fascinating part is tasting the small differences from region to region. Many chocolate makers create just one chocolate bar from a single country, but Marou focuses solely on Vietnamese cacao. And believe me, they do a great job with that cacao.

Marou has also been doing wonderful things in the study of fermentation (cacao is fermented for several days after harvest and prior to drying), as you can see from the series of study on their website.  For more information about Marou Chocolate, visit: The website has extensive info on retailers who carry the chocolate bars all across the world, with Miss Choco (in Montreal), JoJo Coco (in Ottawa) and Thin Blue Line Cheese (in Toronto) being some of the Canadian carriers of Marou.  For more details on each chocolate bar, check out my tasting notes below.

Marou Chocolate Tasting Notes:

Marou Dong Nai 72%, Batch #2805:  Brightly fruity with a citrus taste and light acidity, which then leaves a bit of a nutty roast taste. A little blackberry-raspberry mix hides behind the heavy molasses taste. A redder shade and more 'milk chocolate' in appearance, although there is no milk in the product (the shade is the result of the colour of the cocoa beans) than the Dak Lak and the Treasure Island.  In one  tasting, I also thought of it as having a bitter-chocolate-and-caramel flavour. They use cacao that has been processed in their own fermentation stations near Cat Tien National Park in the Upper Dong Nai region. The chocolate is then handcrafted in Saigon.

Treasure Island 3/4 Cacao (75%), Batch exp: 09 03 2017:  So strange, shocking almost after eating the Dong Nai. The heavy coconut flavour nearly overwhelms the chocolate for me; it has a strong-tasting coconut oil or coconut milk flavour. Yes, that's it, it reminds me of a vegan milk chocolate bar made with coconut milk.

Dak Lak 70%, Batch #2929:  Tastes of the roast with a hint of smokiness, mint, berry fruit, smooth and full-bodied with a hint of blackberry flavours and a hint of black liquorice.

Heart of Darkness 85%, Batch #3201:  Highly acidic, citrus fruit and a little berry, much like a Madagascar-origin chocolate would taste with 85% cocoa solids.  Quite powerful, and definitely not a 'sweet' 85%, although with the fruitiness, 'bitter' is also not quite the right word. Tart might be the appropriate descriptor here.

Closing Notes: My favourites of these four were the Dong Nai 72% for the roast and fruit flavours, and the Dak Lak 70% was a runner up. I will try the Treasure Island again in the future, to see if the coconut taste was a one-time thing (introduced by external smells perhaps in processing or packaging) or if it is a flavour inherent in the beans. But for now, it was my least favourite.  The Heart of Darkness was a bit too bitter for me, although I do enjoy 85% dark chocolate, I prefer the extra bitter stuff to be less fruity and acidic than this chocolate. I would enjoy these beans with a little more sugar added. But I do know many people who would enjoy this chocolate bar as is.

No matter how I feel about each chocolate bar, Marou is one chocolate maker I will be coming back to time and time again!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dark Milk Chocolate Recipe! Plus, The Mexican Arabica Bean Company supplies cocoa beans to Canadian chocolate makers!

I've been making chocolate!  That's right folks, I have been making chocolate from bean to bar in my commercial kitchen using a Premier Chocolate Refiner, which I purchased from last winter. And I am loving every minute of it!

And recently, I received some cocoa beans samples from Ontario's first supplier of single origin cocoa beans, The Mexican Arabica Bean Company. Owner, Juan E Gonzalez, supplies organic cocoa beans and cocoa butter from a farm in Mexico, and also from a co-operative in Honduras. And so I made a variety of chocolate bars using these beans, including two single origin 70% dark chocolate bars, and some blended Honduras-Indonesia 51% dark-milk chocolate (it's blended because it had a high non-deodorized cocoa butter content, which means that single origin flavours from both the Honduras beans and Indonesian cocoa butter are affecting the flavour of the final chocolate). All the chocolate bars turned out to be delicious.

The two dark chocolates, from Mexico and Honduras, both had fruity flavours, yet were very different.  Mexico had a coffee flavour and perhaps nutty flavour, combined with bright, acidic fruit flavours, while the Honduras had a funny fruit flavour that perhaps reminded me of the pitanga fruit flavour in Akesson's Brazil-origin chocolate. I wasn't sure about it when I first made it, but then as it aged a week or two, I really began to love the flavour. And the Honduras worked out so beautifully in the dark-milk chocolate that I truly gained an appreciation for the bean.

Although the beans were very different (the Mexican beans were washed before processing and the Honduras simply fermented and sun-dried for 5 days), I found them both fairly easy to work with. I tasted a lot of the beans before and after roasting them and found no beans to have mould flavours or anything strange.  Overall, both batches were good to work with.

Juan tells me that the new harvest of Mexican cocoa beans, from the Tobasco region of Mexico, have a high percentage of white Criollo beans mixed in with the Trinitario beans. So I am definitely ready to put my order in for more! If you want some beans from Juan, and cocoa butter to make them truly single-origin, contact him via the website at or on Facebook, Twitter (@mabcoimporter) or Instagram ( He's knowledgeable and fun to talk to, and he even worked on cacao farms when he was growing up in Mexico, so he certainly has a handle on cacao!

Since I loved the results of my dark-milk chocolate recipe, I thought I'd share the recipe with you here. If you don't have a chocolate melangeur or refiner, you'll want to use a good juicer (Champion), and Indian spice grinder, or a really good single-blade blender or coffee grinder to grind the chocolate as fine as you can (and until it begins to 'melt' into chocolate) Enjoy!

Dark Milk Chocolate Recipe with 51% Cocoa Solids)

for Lisabeth`s Honduras-Indonesia Dark Milk Chocolate, but you can use any beans and cocoa butter!

Taste: Lightly fruity, acidic, buttery caramel, low roast.


24.53%     400 grams organic/fair trade cane sugar
24.53%     400 grams milk powder (I used non-instant skim milk powder)
30.70%     500 grams cocoa butter
20.24%     330 roasted, shelled cocoa beans
100%      1,630 grams total batch size
                (16 3.5oz or 100g chocolate bars,
                 or 25 65g chocolate bars)
50.94%     830 grams cocoa solids


Step 1: Sort and check the beans: Remove any twigs, metal or other strange particles that could be in your cocoa beans. Remove strange shaped beans, or beans that look bad or broken.

Step 2: Roast the cocoa beans. 30 minutes (with occasional stirring/turning of the beans) on 300º F to 325º F should be good.  You can play around with roasting times, depending on what you are looking for.

Step 3: Shell or winnow the beans.  Hand shelling can be very slow, but it is helpful to have rubbery thick kitchen gloves to remove the shells. Or crush the beans in a large Ziplock bag and then place them on a flat pan and remove the shells using a hair-dryer or fan to blow the shells off of the beans - outdoors because this is messy.  You can also remove the beans with a winnower, by building or buying it.

Step 4: Melt the cocoa butter in the microwave (about 2-3 minutes) or over a double boiler (ensuring no water gets into mix).

Step 5: Pre-grind your roasted, broken and shelled cocoa beans (nibs) and half of the melted cocoa butter with a blender, automatic coffee grinder, juicer, or an appliance designed for pre-grinding cocoa beans.

Step 6: Place the other half of your melted cocoa butter in the chocolate refiner/melangeur, along with the pre-ground chocolate mixture.  Refine for 15 to 24 hours, depending on how long you want and to get the taste and texture you like. If you are using a blender or coffee grinder, just a few minutes is all you can do so as not to burn out the motor.

Step 7: Either pour your chocolate out into a plastic wrap-lined pan and let rest and age for 3 or 4 weeks, or immediately temper it and pour into moulds, depending on your preference. If you pour out into pans, the chocolate will have considerable boom, so it will need to be melted and tempered before pouring into moulds.  Learn how to temper the chocolate here.

Seal in plastic bags or foil to store. If stored in a cool, dry place, with no exposure to sun, your chocolate should last one year!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The 'Pralus Pyramide' - What's old is new again (to me, at least)

I am sure everybody who is anybody in chocolate has tasted the Pralus Pyramid by now, but for me, this is brand new. I've seen pics on social media for ages, while anxiously waiting to get my hands onto this perfect single origin chocolate tasting line-up. And when the 'mini' pyramid arrived last week, I immediately dug in for some serious chocolate tasting.

I was in France in 2004 and 2005, but at that time my chocolate knowledge was limited.  So needless to say, I am kicking myself for not spending more time on chocolate research that year, rather than just blindly tasting my way through the country. If I had put the extra effort in, I would have known that Maison Pralus was 'the' place to visit in France, with at least eight 'boutiques' that can be found in different cities, including Paris, Roanne, Lyon and Charlieu and Renaison.

But I will not wallow in my own self-pity about chocolate experiences that could have been, and instead focus on the wonderful chocolate that I have now, which is this amazing mini pyramid of single origin tasting chocolate.  I took four days to taste these small morsels of chocolate that burst with every kind of origin chocolate flavour imaginable. This was perfect for a taste comparison, since all 10 chocolates have 75% cocoa solids and the same ingredients (other than a difference in the origin of the cocoa beans used), so origin flavours can really be compared among them.

With 10 chocolates, it was difficult to keep track of the chocolate flavours, so I created a list and added some simple bullet points to describe them, which I would modify on the second and third tasting depending on my taste buds each day. My summary list is below, if you care to see, or you could just taste them yourself and see what flavours you discover! The mini pyramid is ideal for one person, maybe two, to taste. The full-size pyramid would be ideal for a group chocolate tasting party.

I purchased the Pralus mini Pyramyde de Tropiques for $10.49 CAD from La Tablette de Miss Choco in Montreal, which ships to Canada and US locations ( You can also purchase direct from the Pralus website at: I believe they ship worldwide.

Here are my tasting notes on each single origin chocolate bar:

Papouasie 75% - high roast and fruity, lingering smoke on the melt.
Ecuador 75% - straight up chocolate flavour, taste the roast, nutty on the melt.
Sao Tomé & Principe 75% - creamy, fruity but not high acidity so no citrus, perhaps dried fruit, prune?
Venezuela 75% - bright, upfront roast, almost fruity, but chocolaty, creamy
Indonésie 75% - a lot smoky, woody. Nearly overpowering smoke, yet enjoyable.
Tanzania 75% - strange, is it leather and fruit? mild. Not very astringent. A little fruit and roast in the aroma.
Madagascar 75% - roasted fruit, berry including raspberry and blackberry, red grape.
Trinidad 75% - I originally thought 'tobacco', but was unsure of what I was tasting. But I think Pralus label makers were confused on this one too, package says: "spices grilled smoked dried herbs, mild tobacco".
Ghana 75% - blackberry, spicy, sweeter than the others because of less acidity.
Columbie 75% - coffee with milk, and chocolate flavour.

Ingredients: single origin cocoa beans, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO-free soya lecithin. Contains 75% cocoa solids.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Willie's Cacao: Not One, but TWO Tastings of these Venezeulan and Columbian Origin Chocolate Bars

I find it difficult to review a chocolate makers' chocolate, after tasting just a few of their chocolate bars. So when I scarfed down two of Willie's Cacao chocolate bars earlier this year, and realized I hadn't put the thought or time into really tasting it, so I waited to purchase more before writing about it here. And purchase more, I did.

Since Willie's Cacao is a British craft chocolate brand, I unfortunately have limited access to the chocolate here in Canada (well, that is if I want to order from within Canada and not pay shipping fees direct from England). So I ordered what I could, which was just two bars: Willie's Columbian Gold Los Llanos 88% and Willie's Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72%.  This tasting mix was just fine with me, since craft chocolate made from Venezuela-origin beans has been fairly predictable and nearly always good. And Columbian-origin chocolate still mystifies me, so there is always a learning opportunity when comparing a Venezuelan-origin chocolate to anything new. That Venezuelan straight-up chocolate flavour, with a hint of nuts or coffee, provides a good base comparison for another origin with a spicier, fruitier or something-ier flavour to it.  And in this case, it was no different.

After tasting both chocolate bars - twice - I can say I enjoy Willie's Cacao chocolates. They are not exceptionally high in cocoa butter - perhaps a little on the 'stiff' side, but they are not entirely without the melt of cocoa butter either, so the mouthfeel still holds some creaminess.

One of the major 'plus's' of Willie's Cacao is minimal ingredients - just three in fact - which means no soy lecithin, no artificial flavours and no other 'junk' or even natural vanilla getting in the way of the origin flavours. This 'three-ingredient' chocolate is quite nice, and seems to bring out maximum flavour from the cocoa beans.

My only real note of caution is to bring a knife to your tasting of Willie's.  The solid, square shape of the chocolate bar is lovely to look at, but it does sometimes require a knife and chopping board to cut the pieces. I tried breaking off small pieces with my hands and could only succeed in breaking large pieces, nearly half the bar.

For Willie's Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72% chocolate bar, there is an upfront dark roast flavour. I often taste the roast flavour in Venezuelan-origin chocolate, I think because there is generally low acidity and mild other flavours in many Venezuelan beans, so the roast tends to stand out.  But that is not the case here, I believe there was a dark roast applied to the beans used to make this chocolate. This highlights the notes of coffee (dark roast, of course) and roasted nuts in the chocolate. It is a nice chocolate that keeps me coming back for more.

As for Willie's Columbian Gold, Los Llanos 88% chocolate bar, it seems like a mystery to me. The first time I tasted it, I detected cherry and plum, as written on the package, with a little citrus and acidity is there in this very dark and very bitter chocolate. And yet, my second tasting produced a chocolate with no strong fruit flavours and it seemed to have low bitterness and low acidity. My third tasting produced the cherry flavours again, but mild and still not-so-bitter. Funny how that happens.

The Columbian chocolate is harsher to the bite than the Venezuelan, but that is expected with a chocolate with higher cocoa solids. Overall both chocolate bars are enjoyable.

Here are the package details on these two chocolate bars:

Willie's Cacao, Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72, 50g
Willie's Cacao Ltd. (Uffculme, UK)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. May contain traces of nuts. 72% minimum cocoa solids.

Willie's Cacao, Columbian Gold Los Llanos 88, 50g
Willie's Cacao Ltd. (Uffculme, UK)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. May contain traces of nuts. 72% minimum cocoa solids.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Where to Buy Cocoa Beans, Nibs and other Cacao Ingredients? This is the Ultimate List of Cocoa Bean Suppliers!

Many of the most unique and respected chocolate makers are traveling the world for their cocoa bean supplies. By buying cocoa beans directly from farms in Dominican Republic, Honduras, Madagascar and other tropical locations, they make a unique product that is truly single origin - and not the same origin that everyone else is making chocolate from.

However, not every new chocolate maker has the time or money to travel the world looking for cacao. Yet many want beans that can be purchased at a price that is fair to the farmers, and with guarantees of quality. But it is a tough job looking for a steady bulk source of beans or nibs to make bean-to-bar chocolate, so I have put together a list of all the suppliers I have come across over the last few years.

This list includes export/import entrepreneurs, farms, cacao processors, and co-operatives who supply from the source.  This list is NOT complete - it is definitely a work-in-progress - so please feel free to add any cacao suppliers to the comments below, so I can research them and get them added to the list. Also, I often work with cacao to make chocolate and review it, and I will try to include the links to cacao reviews in this list where possible. If you want to send me your cocoa beans for review, please contact info (at) for more information.

In Canada...

The Mexican Arabica Bean Company (Toronto) - provides two delicious beans, from Honduras and Mexico. A review will be up shortly of these beans and the wonderful chocolate that I made from them. Also supplies Mexican organic cacao butter and cocoa nibs. Visit for more information, or follow on Twitter: @mabcoimporter and Juan Gonzalez on Instagram.

In the U.S.A....

Tomric Systems, Inc. (Buffalo, NY) - Offers four types of beans from Nicaragua, in partnership with Ingemann Cacao Fino (see below for more info on Ingemann). Of the four types offered, the O'Payo beans are Organic. Farmers are paid a high price for the beans, and scientifically fermented. Contact cocoa@tomric .com for more information or visit:

Cacao Bahia (Brazil, sales office in California) - Providing 'single-estate' organic cacao from the Fazenda Camboa farm in the state of Bahia in Brazil. The farm cultivates fine Forastero and fine Trinitario cacao. These beans have a nice, lightly acidic, fruity flavour. Read my review of the bean samples from this farm here: For more information, contact: or visit

Edgar Soria - beans from Ecuador possibly selling out of New York. If you have further information on this supplier, please post below in the Comments.

From Origin:

Casa Franceschi - provides high quality cocoa from South America, including Trinitario and Criollo beans from Venezuela and Ecuador.  This company has been supplying Europe and Japan since 1830, and now has a warehouse in the U.S. They work to ensure the post harvesting process is sound, so customers receive the finest flavour beans are delivered consistently. They currently have Hacienda Victoria beans, which are rare Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador. According to Casa Franceschi, it has low acidity and typcal Arriba Nacional flavour, including a taste of sweet and dry fruits, caramel, brown sugar and "well balanced between floral and bitterness." The finish offers a cocoa taste. Learn more about these beans at: And learn about Casa Franceschi at: Sales rep: Pedro Rojas

Cacao Fiji

Ingemann Cacao Fino - Producing Fine Flavour cacao varieties of Trinitario-Acriollado, "A Trinitario with Criollo genes." produced by heirloom Nicaraguan trees. They are decidedly 'fair trade', claiming: "The price we pay our producers is reportedly amongst the highest paid worldwide to cocoa farmers" (ref) and claim it is also 100% traceable, and provide a 'lot identity sheet' to chocolate makers to show where the cacao came from, cacao type, analysis, etc. Learn more at: or e-mail: Also supplying through Tomric Systems out of Buffalo.

Ucayali River Cacao (Peru) - located in the Ucayali Province in Peru. Does NOT accept any CCN-51 from any of the farms, in order to stay a true supplier of fine flavour cacao. This business collects the cacao wet from each farm and tags it, so they can trace the supply chain throughout the processing of the cacao. They have specially built fermentation boxes on site to ensure fermentation is done well to produce a consistent product. 20 - 25% of their cacao is 'of the white variety' with very little bitterness or acidity. E-mail Robin Jordan  at for more information or follow on Instagram at: @ucayali_river_cacao. Website:

Blue Cacao from Honduras - Honduras exporters, although contact has been difficult since samples were sent out initially.  If anyone has contact information, please add it to the comments below.

Maya Mountain Cacao (Belize) - Sources cacao from smallholder Belizean farmers for chocolate makers looking to make fine chocolate. Ensures farms keep up with organic certification requirements, picks up wet cacao and has a processing team to ensure fermentation and drying is consistent. CEO and Co-founder is Emily V Stone.  Contact: (+501) 630-9206 for more information or visit the website at:

Cacao Verapaz (Guatemala) - founded by Uncommon Cacao Group (Emily Stone - see above under Maya Mountain Cacao) in 2013. Connects producers of fine cacao in Guatemala with chocolate makers around the world. Learn more at:

Uncommon Cocoa Group - Founder of Maya Mountain Cacao, Emily Stone, is involved in this organization, having also founded Cacao Verapaz under the Uncommon Cacao name.  They supply various origins of cacao (including Bolivia, Haiti, Dominican Republic, etc.) with ensured quality and consistent processing methods. Learn more at:

Maranon Chocolate - Discoverer of USDA Certified Pure Nacional Cacao and exclusive provider of world renowned Fortunato No. 4 of Peru. Considered "the world's rarest cacao". Family business. @MaranonChoc

Heartblood Cacao - exporting Guatemalan Cacao

Cacao & Beyond (Philippines) - Cacao farming, fermented cacao and "producing Pure 100% Cacao Tableya Davao, Philippines" (ref: Instagram). E-mail: for more information.

Lilycious Chocolate (Indonesia)  - cacao farmers with a goal of preserving "biodiversity of cacao trees to good quality beans and strive towards implementing a sustainable chocolate farm ecosystem." ref:

The Haitian Chocolate Project - seeking to build US demand for Haitian grown chocolate to help build infrastructure in Haiti.

Cocoa Family (Dominican Republic) - Certified organic and kosher cocoa beans, nibs, paste, etc. from the Dominican Republic. Dorcas Astacio
Tel 626-544-0200

JT SocEnt Ventures, Inc. (Philippines) - Offering cocoa beans, nibs and liquor, as well as coconut sugar and virgin coconut oil from the Davao area of the Philippines. Works directly with farmer's groups, NGO's and cooperatives to ensure farmer's get a fair price for their beans. Contact Jowell L. Tan by e-mail at: