Monday, March 7, 2016

Cocoa Couriers: Canada's First Monthly Craft Chocolate 'Club'


Cocoa Couriers is a new subscription service for fine and fair trade chocolate. It is based out of Toronto, which is exciting news for Canadian chocolate lovers!

Monthly chocolate subscriptions have become popular in the U.K. with the popular Cocoa Runners. And several have popped up recently in the U.S. as a result of the rapid emergence of American craft chocolate.  But Canada's love for bean-to-bar chocolate is starting to take hold, and Cocoa Couriers is the first of its kind in Canada.

So how does a chocolate subscription work? Subscribers can go to Cocoa Couriers website and choose a monthly subscription plan.  A starter plan for $26.99 per month will get you three unique chocolate bars, and for $30.99 to $34.99 (depending on how many months you want to sign up for), you will receive four chocolate bars from different brands. You can see below, the list of four bars that I received in February. Chocolate is shipped out after the 15th of each month, and monthly subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.

In addition to lovely packaging for your monthly set of chocolate bars, Cocoa Couriers includes a detailed description card inside the box, describing each chocolate bar. The card includes tasting notes, the bean country of origin, as well as recommended pairings (i.e. red or white wine, craft beer, coffee, hot chocolate, etc.).

This is a super fun idea for a chocolate tasting club hosted among friends. Simply add a chocolaty dessert, wine or other fun beverages, and a palate cleanser (i.e. warm water, apple slices), and you have a ready-made monthly party with your besties!

Another great thing about Cocoa Couriers is that they let you  purchase individual chocolate bars on their website. If you don't like being surprised, or want to create your own special box to suit yours or someone else's chocolate preferences, this is a great way to get your hands on chocolate bars that are not available anywhere else in Canada. For instance, Cocoa Couriers is stocking Brasstown chocolate and Vintage Plantations, two great brands that I have not been able to buy in Canada before. This is definitely exciting for Canadian chocolate lovers!

You can learn more about Cocoa Couriers on the website at: https://cocoacouriers.com/.


Here is an overview of the chocolate bars that I received in the Cocoa Couriers box in the end of February:


Black-Fig by Dick Taylor, 72% Madagascar Origin Dark Chocolate, 2 oz (57g)

This California chocolate maker never stops amazing me with its chocolate. Not only is the packaging a work of art, but the bars themselves are beautiful and the taste is always spot on.  My friends and I were unsure if we'd like the taste of the 'black figs' sprinkled on the chocolate, but the combination was just right and won us over immediately. For more info on this bar, visit Dick Taylor's website here.


Toasted Coconut by Medecasse Madagascar Chocolate, 70% Madagascar Dark Chocolate 2.64 oz (75g)

At first taste, the group was unsure about this chocolate.  It seemed bitter and a wee bit gritty.  But when everyone came back around to it, after tasting the others, we all thought it was different and tastier. I found it grew on me by the third tasting. The toasted coconut was very pleasant. If you have ever toasted some shredded coconut at home, you'll know why it is a nice addition.  It softens the coconut, makes it a bit sweeter, and it is very difficult to toast without burning.

90% of Madecasse's chocolate has been made in Madagascar, with some made in the United States. For more information on Madecasse's chocolate, visit: www.medecasse.com.


Raaka Virgin Chocolate, Mint & Nibs, 56% Cacao, Dem. Rep. Congo, 1.8 oz

I normally prefer my chocolate darker than 56%, but this one was quite delicious, and the sweetness paired very well with the mint chocolate.  The nibs offered me a light punch of bitter cacao, and all the antioxidants I need. Truly a great tasting chocolate bar by one of my favourite raw chocolate makers.


Blueberry 70% Dark Chocolate by Brasstown Fine Artisan Chocolate, Ecuador Manabí, 2.25 oz (63.87g)

I didn't think I liked blueberries in dark chocolate until I tasted this chocolate bar.  And I may be fully converted now. These berries were plump, moist and not teeny-tiny chewy things with fake flavour, like we might see in more commercial chocolate bars.  The berry flavour was quite subtle, actually, and their mild taste paired beautifully with the 75% dark chocolate.

There were sections that didn't have blueberries. So there was one comment in our tasting group that there should be a blueberry in every piece.  True.  But having added inclusions to chocolate bars myself, I know that's its difficult thing to get an even spread of the berries - you definitely don't want to play around with the blueberries to much once they are poured in the mould or the chocolate will set as you do.  This can be solved by sprinkling them on the back, but I truly liked that the berries were within Brasstown's chocolate and fully enrobed by it.

Also, by getting pieces of chocolate with no blueberries, I could truly taste and enjoy this Ecuadorian origin chocolate. It was shiny, it had a lovely snap, and a nice roast flavour and straight up cocoa taste, with a pleasant bitterness level. There was a slight berry flavour in the chocolate, which may have simply been the influence of the stirred-in blueberries.

It took three tastings to decide that I love this chocolate bar. Not just because of the taste, but also because it opened my eyes.  I have avoided solid chocolate bars with blueberries in it for a long time, not willing to taste them.  This chocolate made me realize that I should be more open in future, and willing to taste beyond the plain, solid chocolate bar.

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I really enjoyed my Cocoa Couriers box of chocolate! And I'd like to thank owner Joe Grande for sending it to me! I've already put in an order for my next batch of chocolate from Cocoa Couriers.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Lisabeth,
    good news for Canadian chocolate lovers, then!
    If I lived in a big city though, I'd prefer to visit a physical store. I do not know if it's easy to find fine chocolate shops in your country.
    Anyway, that's a great idea by Joe.
    P.S. I too recently tasted Brasstown:
    "Brasstown Chocolate Review—A Tasting Of Two Fine Dark Chocolate Bars"
    http://wp.me/p6x0NR-v3

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    1. Yes, I like going to a store too - but our country is so large, with not a large population, so we are spread out. I live on an island, in a small town, so I have no access to stores that carry anything but a few Lindt chocolate bars - so this courier service is very welcome! Even in Toronto stores, there is not a huge selection of bean-to-bar chocolate. Soma used to carry other brands from around the world, but now they mainly just stock their own brand, which is understandable. Ottawa has JoJo Coco http://www.jojococo.ca/, Montreal has La Tablette http://latablette.ca/ and Vancouver has Xoxolat http://www.xoxolat.com/. Plus we have over 20 Canadian bean-to-bar chocolate makers now http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2014/01/canadas-growing-bean-to-bar-craft.html so I imagine other retailers will pop up soon!

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