Sunday, October 30, 2011

Event: New York Chocolate Show UPDATE

The 2011 New York Chocolate Show (November 10-13) has updated information on their website. There are now 50 exhibitors, and schedules have been posted for:

Use the above schedules to choose which day to attend. For more information, you can read our original posting about the event.

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite, and don't forget to enter our giveaway for two free tickets before it ends tomorrow!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maker Profile: Kallari

For several months now, I've been meaning to write a series of postings highlighting information about each chocolate maker, but it took meeting several of them at the Northwest Chocolate Festival to motivate me to actually start writing. Here is the first of hopefully many to come...

company nameKallari
chocolate maker
Carlos Pozo
factory locationQuito, Ecuador
factory toursyes
direct online purchaseN/A
direct storesN/A
retail online purchaseChocosphere
retail store purchaseWhole Foods Market
local cooperative and natural food stores
selling bars since2005
plantation barsnone
single origin bars85% Cacao (Ecuador)
75% Cacao (Ecuador)
70% Cacao (Ecuador)
Sinchi Supreme 85% (Ecuador)
blend barsnone
other barsnone
production cycletree to bar
added fatcocoa butter from same cacao beans
sweetenercane sugar
flavoringwhole vanilla bean
organicall bars USDA certified
sustainableall bars Rainforest Alliance certified
economicsfarmer owned
profit-sharing among cooperative
last updatedOctober 27, 2011

Kallari Chocolate is a chocolate maker from Ecuador. As a farming cooperative that produces chocolate bars, Kallari manages the entire production cycle from growing the cacao trees to packaging the final chocolate bars. They sort their beans by hand, keeping the best for themselves and selling the rest to other chocolate companies.

From the back of their chocolate bar wrappers: "We are KALLARI, a cooperative of 850 indigenous Kichwa families in the Upper Napo Region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. We plant, care for, and harvest our award-winning heirloom cacao beans to create this single-source organic chocolate. We share 100% of chocolate profits amongst our 21 rainforest communities to maintain our way of life in one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth."

The motto of Kallari Chocolate is "sustainable pleasure for palate and planet". Kallari's chocolate is certified organic by the USDA. It is also certified by the Rainforest Alliance that it was produced in a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable way.

Kallari makes both couverture and chocolate bars. They use organic cane sugar as a sweetener, add cocoa butter made from their own organic cacao beans, and include organic whole vanilla beans. Kallari does not use an emulsifier in their chocolate. Their chocolate maker is Carlos Pozo. He is also the general coordinator of the Kallari Association and still continues to grow cacao as well!

Because their factory is close to their farms, there is much less delay after the cacao beans are dry before they are processed into chocolate. Kallari currently makes three chocolate bars that vary by the amount of cocoa solids: 70%, 75%, and 85%. They are also in the process of introducing four new hand-tempered bars (which won't be available in the U.S. until later next year).

During the harvest season (January to June), Kallari encourages tours of their farms near Tena and their factory in Quito. Lin-Mar Associates in New York organizes trips that include Kallari tours. The current leased factory in Quito will be replaced next year by a new one they are building in Tena.

Kallari chocolate is available for purchase online at Chocosphere and in stores at Whole Foods Markets and many local cooperative and natural food stores, such as PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolate Labeling Revisited

Earlier this year I posted about how labeling in chocolate can be inaccurate. At the Northwest Chocolate Festival (NWCF), there was a lot of disappointment with chocolate labeling.

One repeated issue seemed to be the use of the traditional terms of Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero to indicate the type (and implicit quality) of cacao (as I explained in an early blog post about cacao trees).

Multiple presentations at NWCF explained that there is no longer any pure Criollo cacao, and that all quality cacao is now pretty much Trinitario that is closer to Criollo on the spectrum of hybridization between Criollo and Forastero. Some people felt that labeling anything as Criollo is deceptive. It also depends who you ask. As one chocolate maker explained, since Criollo means local and Forastero means foreign, if you ask a farmer if his cacao trees are Criollo or Forastero, he'll look at you as if you're stupid: of course they are Criollo (i.e., local)!

Ten distinct genetic types of cacao have actually been identified, and yet none of those names is used in labeling chocolate. Using the three terms of Criollo, Trinitario, and Forastero is obviously less meaningful.

The other labeling concern at NWCF was the near universal disdain regarding Fair Trade, which typically requires only 5% or so above market prices. Such pricing is insufficient to pay for the higher costs of growing quality cacao. The chocolate makers I spoke with said they paid anywhere from 30% to 400% higher than market prices for their quality beans (sometimes fermented and dried in a manner they requested). One maker cynically suggested that fair trade certifications seemed to be primarily for marketing and for generating money for the certification organizations.

Because much of the quality cacao is grown on many small (e.g., 1 hectare) farms and then the cacao from multiple farms are brought together for fermentation and drying, the cost of certifying those individual farms is too expensive. Many such farms are organic, but they are uncertified. Similarly, chocolate makers are often paying higher than fair trade prices, but aren't certified. Thus, both labels may be lacking on their products. I try to capture this distinction in our reviews and explicitly mention in the text about certifications.

An ideal label for me would include everything from accurate genetics of the cacao to the detailed dates and methods of harvesting and processing it into chocolate -- way too much information for a reasonable consumer. Another piece of information I would like to know is whether or not any added cocoa butter is made from the same cacao beans as the rest of the chocolate (or if a less expensive cocoa butter was used). One member of the audience in a class asked about finding out the percentage of the retail price of a chocolate bar paid to the farmers for their beans.

Beyond ingredients, what information would you want?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sale: 20% off Valrhona chocolate plus 5 free samples

This week World Wide Chocolate has 20% off Valrhona and Valor chocolate (through October 31st). Use coupon code SPECIAL20 during checkout for this 20% discount.

As a bonus treat during checkout, the first 30 buyers to add "Free Cluizel Chocolate Squares" in the Comments field will receive 5 free bite-size 5 gram chocolate squares of Michel Cluizel chocolate. You do not have to purchase Cluizel chocolate to qualify for the 5 free sample squares.

Since summer is over, they are no longer offering free warm weather packaging or free shipping upgrades.

World Wide Chocolate has some additional promotions available (such as SPECIAL15 for 15% off any combination of Bonnat, Dolphin, and Lake Champlain chocolate totalling $50 or more), but none are especially compelling.

REMINDER: Only one coupon code is allowed per order.

World Wide Chocolate only ships to United States, APO (military), and FPO (diplomatic) addresses. Full information can be found at World Wide Chocolate shipping policies.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Northwest Chocolate Festival summary

There were 5 major areas to the festival: Chocolate Makers, Desserts, Aphrodisiacs, and two lecture rooms. The Chocolate Makers room had 18 makers letting you taste their chocolate and buy their products (most at a discount). The Desserts room had many booths with chocolatiers and others with chocolate-related products, as well as a culinary kitchen with different presentations every hour. The Aphrodisiacs room had several presentations on sensual experiences with chocolate. About half that room was roped off for adults to purchase wine, beer, or spirits, and there were seminars on chocolate drinks and pairing chocolate with other beverages. The two lecture rooms were always busy, with different classes each hour.

Overall, I was impressed by the Northwest Chocolate Festival and by the chocolate makers that attended. The event was focused on artisan chocolate, with a particular emphasis on quality in every step of the process: from tree to bar.

Every chocolate maker I met was passionate about creating the best chocolate they could and was interested in continually improving their craft. Many were new to the field, having started selling chocolate in the past couple of years (and one as recently as this July!) I ended up getting about 50 bars over the course of the weekend (and arranged to have some sent to us), so we'll have many new reviews in the months to come.

I was able to attend the excellent 2-hour keynote panel, as well as eight of the classes over the course of the weekend. Most were introductions to a variety of chocolate topics, such as the farming of cacao, the making of chocolate, and the qualities of chocolate. Many of the classes also used tasting some chocolate as part of the educational experience :) Nearly all of the talks I attended were good; one was great.

Over the course of the next week or so, I'll blog about a few of the themes that were emphasized or subjects that I found particularly interesting, such as labor-intensive farming, CCN51 and cross-pollination, financial disincentives, long term cacao pricing, etc.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Event: Northwest Chocolate Festival is this weekend!

The Northwest Chocolate Festival will be this weekend in Seattle. Tickets are available online until midnight Friday, or you can pay a bit more at the door.

Since my original posting about the festival, three additional chocolate makers have decided to attend: Dandelion, Guittard, and Ritual. Unfortunately, Lillie Belle Farms had to cancel and will no longer be attending. has also posted the weekend schedule, so if you don't want to attend both days, you can decide which day has activities you'd prefer to experience.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Amedei Cru Venezuela

Lindy's Rating: 8.5
Richard's Rating: 8.0

chocolate makerAmedei
barCru Venezuela
cacao treesTrinitario
size50g ~ 1.8oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list priceN/A

colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1012
Dark Brown
texturesmooth with text imprints and scoring, grayish tinge
aromaearth, wood, citrus, red fruit, floral, sweet
tastebutter, nut (almond, cashew, walnut), roast (cocoa), sweet, spice, fruit (coconut)
finishslightly sour
Italian chocolate maker Amedei uses cacao beans from individual plantations to make its single origin Cru chocolate bars. Venezuela was made from Trinitario cacao that is genetically more than 85% Criollo (for more information, see our posting about cacao types). The farms from which this cacao was grown are obviously in Venezuela :)

The chocolate was made from 70% cocoa solids, with ingredients of cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla. The bar was formed in typical Amedei fashion: scored into ten 5-gram pieces, each with an imprint of the Amedei name and some parallel lines. Sealed inside foil-lined yellow paper, the bar was packaged in their slightly textured paper container with coloring indicating a single origin Cru bar: half black and half yellow in front. The best before date on the chocolate we reviewed was 15 April 2012.

The color of Venezuela was a medium brown Dark Brown (PANTONE 19-1012). The surface seemed to have a slight grayish tinge, but no obvious bloom. The bar had a hard snap and revealed aromas of earth, wood, citrus, red fruit, floral, and sweetness.

Butter was the first flavor that both Lindy and I tasted. It was soon followed by nut, roast in the form of cocoa, sweetness and spice. We also both experienced coconut in the taste. The nut flavor was primarily almond, but I also noticed some cashew and walnut.

Venezuela had a smooth melt. The chocolate flavor lasted 25 to 30 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving it a medium length. The finish left us with a slightly sour aftertaste.

In the U.S., you can purchase Amedei Cru Venezuela online for $7.50 from Chocosphere. In the U.K., you can buy it online for £3.95 from Chocolate Trading Co.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Giveaway: FREE Tickets to the New York Chocolate Show!

We're giving away two free tickets to the 2011 New York Chocolate Show being held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan from November 10th through 13th. For more information about the event, please see my original posting about it.

To enter this giveaway for free tickets, just send us an email at with "Chocolate Show Tickets" as the subject line.

Entry email must be received by midnight PT, October 31, 2011. One entry per person. Winner will be selected at random. Tickets are valid for admission to any single day of the 2011 New York Chocolate Show.

We will need your full name and mailing address to send the tickets. You can include it in your email submission, or we will contact you for this information if your email is selected. In the latter case, you will have 24 hours in which to respond with the information before we contact a replacement winner.

Good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Askinosie Cortés Honduras

Lindy's Rating: 8.5
Richard's Rating: 8.5

chocolate makerAskinosie
barCortés, Honduras
cacao treesTrinitario
size85g ~ 3.0oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane juice
other ingredients(none)
list price$8.00

colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1431
texturesmooth, with character imprints and scoring
aromacitrus, red fruit, earth (damp hay), roast
tasteearth, roast, fruit (citrus, lime, orange, cherry, plum, hint of lemon), sweet
finishslightly tannin
Askinosie has personal relationships with the farmers who grow their cacao beans. The picture of lead farmer Fermin Arriaga graces the wrapper of this bar. As I've written before, Askinosie shares profits with his farmers, who all farm organically. However, his chocolate is not certified fair trade or organic.

Cortés Honduras was made from Trinitario cacao beans from farms near the port city of Cortés, Honduras. The 70% cocoa solids consisted of 67% beans and 3% cocoa butter made from Cortés beans (many chocolate makers use cheaper, lower quality cocoa butter). The remaining 30% was organic cane juice. Askinosie crafted this bar into its standard form: 3 ounces scored into 18 pieces, each with a letter of "Askinosie chocolate". Using environmental packaging, Cortés was wrapped in NatureFlex™ and placed inside the waxed paper bag picture above.

Askinosie still uses a date as a "Choc-o-lot #" to identify the production run of the chocolate bar, but starting with "100112" (October 1, 2012), they are converting to using a "best before date" rather than a "packaged date". You will continue to be able to view a brief production history by entering the Choc-o-lot # on their homepage. The wrapper of the bar we reviewed was stamped 030811, indicating it was packaged in March.

Cortés had a medium brown Fudgesickle (PANTONE 19-1431) color. The bar had a hard snap. The aromas of this chocolate were a strong citrus, a subtle red fruit, an earthiness reminiscent of damp hay, and some roast.

After an initial flavor of earth and roast, Cortés tasted of citrus and revealed more specific fruit flavors: lime, orange, cherry, plum, and a hint of lemon. Lindy said she loved the way the fruit flavors blended together and how there were so many of them. It also tasted sweet to me.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted 25 to 30 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving Cortés a medium length. The final aftertaste was slightly tannin.

In the continental U.S., you can purchase Askinosie Cortés Honduras online directly from Askinosie for $8.00. To combine it with a purchase of other chocolates, you can buy Cortés online from Chocolopolis for $7.99.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Event: New York Chocolate Show November 10-13

The 14th annual New York Chocolate Show runs Thursday, November 10th, through Sunday, November 13th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closing early on Sunday at 6 p.m.) It is the largest chocolate event in the U.S., and already has at least 48 exhibitors (on the list at the time I wrote this), including Michel Cluizel, Divine, Grenada, Guittard, Francois Pralus, and Valrhona.

In addition to the many chocolate companies, the New York Chocolate Show also includes cooking demonstrations in two theaters, book signings, and activites for kids. They have not yet posted the 2011 information, but you can get an idea from the 2010 information, and check those links closer to the event for updated information.

You may want to wait to purchase tickets until the 2011 schedules are published so you can attend on a day that has more events that interest you.

There will also be special events, but only the Broadway theme fashion show (separate $150 admission on Wednesday, November 9th, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.) has been posted at this time.

Advance tickets cost $30 for Thursday, Friday, or Sunday admission; $35 for Saturday. They can be purchased online at Eventbrite. I do not know any discount codes at present, but if you find one, please post a comment to share it with other readers. Thanks!

At the door, tickets cost $35 for Thu, Fri, or Sun; $40 for Sat. Children ages 5 to 12 enter free (up to 2 per adult ticket); additional child tickets cost $8 (not available in advance). Kids 4 and under enter free. Groups of 20 or more can arrange reduced ticket prices ($25 for Thu, Fri, or Sun; $30 for Sat) by emailing

In any case, due to the expected high turnout, I recommend buying tickets in advance rather than waiting in line at the door.

Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Event: Chocolate Weekend NYC starts tomorrow!

Just a reminder that the free Chocolate Weekend NYC is this weekend and begins tomorrow (Friday, Oct 14th). One update from my original posting is that there are now 36 stores participating.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Valrhona Grand Cru Manjari

Lindy's Rating: 8.5
Richard's Rating: 8.5

chocolate makerValrhona
cacao treesTrinitario
size70g ~ 2.5oz
cocoa solids64%
added fatcocoa butter
emulsifiersoy lecithin
flavoringvanilla extract
other ingredients(none)
list price$6.99

colormedium brown
PANTONE 18-1222
Cocoa Brown
texturematte, smooth flower, asymmetric scoring lines
aromafruit (berry, orange liqueur), spice, earth, wood
snapmedium hard
tastesweet, fruit (raspberry, currant, cherry), roast (cocoa), vanilla
meltmore smooth
finishvery slightly acidic

Valrhona makes six dark chocolate bars in their Grand Cru line. One of these is Manjari, which is made with Trinitario cacao beans from the Sambirano valley of Madagascar. With 64% cocoa solids, Manjari is made from cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and natural vanilla extract.

Valrhona used its standard Grand Cru form for this thin 70 gram Manjari bar: a matte surface with a smooth floral imprint along with the Valrhona name. Asymmetric lines score the bar into 25 unevenly sized pieces. Black plastic enclosed the bar inside a black paper box. The best before date was June 2012.

The color of Manjari was an unusual medium Cocoa Brown (PANTONE 18-1222). The bar had a medium hard snap. This chocolate gave off aromas of berries, red fruit, orange liqueur, spice, earth, and woodiness.

Manjari initially tasted sweet, and then quickly released fruit flavors of berry, cherry, currant, and raspberry. A cocoa roast was also present, along with a vanilla flavor.

The melt of this chocolate was smoother than normal. After the chocolate was gone, the chocolate flavor lasted 35 to 40 seconds, giving Manjari a length on the far end of medium. The finish was very slightly acidic.

Manjari has won several awards over the years, including one of the Bronzes at the Academy of Chocolate's 2011 Awards.

UPDATE: As of 17 April 2013, in the U.S., you can purchase Valrhona Grand Cru Manjari online for $6.99 directly from Valrhona or for $5.65 from Chocosphere. In the U.K., you can purchase Manjari online for £3.39 from Chocolate Trading Co.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Event: Northwest Chocolate Festival ON SALE at Amazon Local

Amazon Local has an amazing deal for Sunday and weekend tickets to the Northwest Chocolate Festival. The sale is today only.

You can purchase a Sunday pass for only $10 (savings of $12 vs. online, and $15 vs. at event) or a weekend pass for only $17 (savings of $20.50 vs. online and $23 vs. at the event). If you haven't bought your tickets yet, this is the way to do it! The deal ends at midnight PT.

Here's a direct link to the Amazon Local deal in Seattle.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Francois Pralus Colombie

Lindy's Rating: 7.0
Richard's Rating: 7.0

chocolate makerFrancois Pralus
cacao treesTrinitario
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids75%
added fatcocoa butter
emulsifiersoy lecithin
other ingredients(none)
list price€4,00

colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
texturescuffed, uneven sheen, text imprint and scoring
aromaroast (cocoa), sweet(butterscotch)
tasteroast (cocoa, coffee), sweet (butterscotch), nut, earth
finishsomewhat tannin

Colombie is just one of the many single origin chocolate bars made by French chocolate maker Francois Pralus. Using Trinitario cacao beans from Colombia, Colombie has 75% cocoa solids (including added cocoa butter), along with sugar and soy lecithin. The thick 100 gram bar was formed in the standard Pralus manner: imprinted with a cursive Pralus in the bottom right quadrant with the rest scored into 24 pieces. Inside the paper cover, the bar was wrapped in gold foil. The best before date of the bar we reviewed was 22 March 2013.

As you can see in the photo above, the surface of the bar was noticeably scuffed and had an uneven sheen. The chocolate had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color. The bar had a hard snap.

The aroma of Colombie was a cocoa roast combined with some sweetness that smelled like butterscotch to me.

The chocolate tasted similarly, with flavors of roast, which included coffee as well as cocoa, and a sweetness that tasted to me like butterscotch. We also both experienced a nutty flavor. I noticed an earthiness as well.

The melt was smooth. The flavor lasted 20 to 30 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving the chocolate a medium length. The final aftertaste was somewhat tannin and perhaps very slightly astringent.

Overall, we found Colombie to be rather mild, both in aroma and flavor, and while a good chocolate, it couldn't compare to the two best single origin chocolates we have reviewed from Colombia: Domori Teyuna and Santander Colombian 65%.

You can purchase Francois Pralus Colombie online for €4,00 directly from Pralus for delivery in Europe. In the U.S., you can purchase it online for $7.99 from Chocolopolis.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Event: Northwest Chocolate Festival and Chocolopolis

Chocolopolis is not only participating in the Northwest Chocolate Festival (weekend of October 22-23 in Seattle), but also selling a limited number of tickets without online fees. You can purchase a VIP pass for $85 (saving $4 vs. online, and not available at event) or a single day pass for $20 (saving $2 vs. online, and $5 vs. at event). However, you must pay in cash.

Chocolopolis is facilitating three classes during the festival, including
  • Chocolate Tasting 101 (by percentage of cocoa solids) Sat 11 a.m. with their Chief Chocophile Lauren Adler
  • Chocolate Tasting 102 (by cacao origin) Sun 11 a.m., again with Lauren Adler
  • Make It Snap! (about tempering chocolate) Sun 1 p.m., with chocolatiers Dominica and Sebastian

In addition, Chocolopolis is hosting two additional free events separate from the festival.

The weekend before the festival, on Saturday, October 15th, from 2-4 p.m., Kallari will be at Chocolopolis (1527 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109) having a chocolate tasting. There will also be a cacao farmer from the Kallari Association.

The day after the festival, on Monday, October 24th, Colin Gasko, the chocolate maker and founder of Rogue will be having a chocolate tasting at the store from 5-7 p.m. Rogue is one of our favorite chocolate makers, and we're looking forward to meeting the maker behind their wonderful chocolate.

One additional note about Chocolopolis is that they are now selling chocolates from maker Dandelion.