Lindy's Rating: 9.0 (previously ***)
Richard's Rating: 9.0 (previously ***)
Askinosie is an independent chocolate maker in Springfield, Missouri. Founder Shawn Askinosie personally meets all of the farmers that provide the beans for his chocolates. He believes strongly in both organic farming and fair trade practices, but chose not to have either certified due to the added costs. Askinosie created a program based on Jack Stack's A Stake in the Outcome™ of profit sharing with the farmers who sell them their beans. They also use environmental best practices in their packaging, renovating, and mulching of cacao bean shells. Askinosie wraps their bars in biodegradable and compostable NatureFlex™ and packages them inside a waxed paper bag.
Rather than a best before date, Askinosie provides the date the bar was finally packaged as a "Choc-o-lot #", and using this number you can read the history of making the chocolate from beans to bar of this production run of chocolate bars. On their homepage, you enter the Choc-o-lot number (in the case of the bar we reviewed: 030911) and on the next page select the type and origin of the bar to see its history.
Now, on with the review. San Jose Del Tambo is a single origin chocolate from Ecuador. It was made from 70% cocoa solids, with 30% organic cane juice and 2% (of the 70%) added cocoa butter made from the same cacao beans. The 85 gram bar was scored into 18 pieces, each with a single letter of "Askinosie chocolate". The color of the chocolate was a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015). The bar had a medium hard snap.
San Jose Del Tambo had a strong floral aroma that Lindy identified as jasmine. There was also a notable roast that I thought was tobacco, as well as an earthiness. We both also detected a hint of sweetness in the form of honey.
After an initial sweet and bitter roast as the chocolate started to melt, the flavor of citrus in the form of orange peel came forth as it melted more fully. We also tasted the floral jasmine that had been so prevalent in the aroma, as well as a nutty roast flavor.
The melt was just barely beyond smooth and into more smooth. Similarly, the length averaged a few seconds beyond short and into medium. The finish was tart and slightly acidic.
Overall, Lindy and I both rated San Jose Del Tambo a high ***. Not only was it far superior to the other Ecuador chocolates we've reviewed so far, it was also good enough to break into the favorites list for each of us. This chocolate won a Gold at the Academy of Chocolate's 2011 Awards.
You can purchase Askinosie San Jose Del Tambo online in the U.S. directly from Askinosie for $8.00, or if you'd like to combine it with the purchase of other chocolate, you can buy it from Chocolopolis for $7.99.