Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Amano Guayas

Lindy's Rating: 7.0
Richard's Rating: 7.5
chocolate makerAmano
cacao trees(unknown)
size56g ~ 2.0oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list price$6.95
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1015
texturesmooth with text imprints and scoring, tiny bubbles
aromaroast (smoke), floral, earth
snapmedium hard
tastefloral, sweet, woody, fruit (apricot, berry), vanilla, tannin, roast (smoke)
finishsomewhat tannin, very slight fruit
Art Pollard, the founder of U.S. chocolate maker Amano, has built direct relationships with the farmers from whom he buys the highest quality cacao. In several cacao growing regions, including Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, finding great cacao has become more difficult due to substantial plantings of a more productive but lower quality hybrid cacao called CCN-51. I'll write more about hybrids, and some of the insights Art Pollard shared about them at the most recent Northwest Chocolate Festival keynote.

For his Guayas bar, Art found farms in the Guayas river basin of Ecuador with only Nacional cacao and paid premiums well above fair trade prices to compensate the farmers for the higher quality cacao. Before selling this chocolate, he returned to Ecuador with the first bars and shared them with the farmers who grew the cacao.

As with all Amano chocolate, Guayas was made from cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter from the same cacao beans, and whole vanilla beans, at least 70% of which were cocoa solids. The two ounce bar was scored into 15 pieces, each with an imprint of the company name and emblem. The bar was wrapped in gold-sided foil and came packaged in a glossy paper box with a slip of paper listing Amano's other chocolates and a list of awards. A sticker indicated lot 3/4/72F and a best before date of August 2013.

The color of the chocolate was a medium brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015). The surface had a few small bubbles in some of the top corners of the pieces and was slightly scuffed in places (looks much worse in the full size picture than in person), but was otherwise excellent. The bar had a medium-hard snap.

Guayas gave off a mild aroma of a smoky roast, floral, and earth. I thought at one point I smelled a scent of berry, but couldn't confirm it.

The taste was much more interesting, with floral, sweet, woody, fruit, and vanilla flavors. We both identified the fruit flavor as apricot, and I tasted some berry as well. The smoky roast we smelled was still there, but less obvious behind the other flavors. Lindy clearly tasted tannin, which I had completely overlooked until she pointed it out.

The chocolate had a smooth melt. The flavor lasted about 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone, just enough to qualify for a medium length. The final aftertaste was somewhat tannin, with just a slight suggestion of fruit.

Every Amano chocolate we've reviewed so far has rated 7.0 or higher, and thus made it onto our Best Chocolates Overall page, and Guayas is no exception. However, we both felt it wasn't as good as some of their other bars, such as Chuao, Montanya, Ocumare, and Dos Rios. Guayas won one of the 2012 Good Food Awards.

You can purchase Guayas online for $6.50 directly from Amano for delivery to the U.S. or Canada. If you want to combine it with the purchase of another brand of chocolate, you can buy it in the U.S. for $6.99 from Chocolopolis or World Wide Chocolate.

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