Lindy's Rating: 8.0 (previously ***)
Richard's Rating: 8.0 (previously ***)
Independent chocolate maker Fresco makes small batches of chocolate bars. Their production runs each use a difference recipe of of three simple ingredients: beans, cane sugar, and cocoa butter. The recipe is based on the origin of the cacao beans, the percentage of cocoa solids, how the beans are roasted, and how the ingredients are conched (i.e., ground down and refined into smooth chocolate) before tempering. Fresco generously shares much of this information with their customers by identifying each bar not only by recipe, batch numbers, and production date, but also with explicit documentation of the levels of roasting (light, medium, or dark) and conching (none, subtle, medium, long). Of course, they also include the traditional bean origin and percentage of cocoa solids. Fresco has an informative web page outlining their chocolate making process.
214 was made from cacao beans from Madagascar, with 74% cocoa solids, using a light roast and medium conching. The bar we reviewed was made in February 2011 and had a best before date of March 2013. The small 40 gram bar was wrapped in silver foil and packaged in paper.
Fresco bars are scored into 10 square pieces, with each square lined in alternating vertical and horizontal directions (please see picture above). The color of 214 was a medium brown Root Beer (PANTONE 19-1228). The bar had a medium hard snap.
Aromas from this chocolate included floral, spice, earth, and roast. I also detected some fruit. Lindy found something about the roast smell vaguely unpleasant.
214 tasted strongly of an interesting combination of both tartness and sweetness. Then fruit flavors came through: citrus, grapefruit, plum, and berry. I also tasted some nut.
The melt was only smooth. The chocolate flavor quickly disappeared after only 5 to 10 seconds, barely gaining a short length. We were left with some acidity and a slightly tannin aftertaste.
We were both a bit disappointed with the 214 and suspect increasing the roast would improve the flavor, and thus look forward to trying the 215 (which has a medium roast). Overall, we both rated Fresco 214 ***.
Fresco does not publish a list price for their chocolate bars, but you can now buy the new 214 bar at Chocolopolis for $7.00.