Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Ritual Costa Rica

Lindy's Rating: 5.0
Richard's Rating: 5.0
chocolate makerRitual
barCosta Rica
regionCosta Rica
cacao treesTrinitario
size57g ~ 2.0oz
cocoa solids75%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list price$9.00
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1015
texturesmooth with scoring, uneven sheen, uneven thickness
aromachemical, vinegar, roast (cocoa), earth, fruit
tastefruit (berry, blackberry), tannin, bitter, earth, floral, sweet
finishsomewhat tannin

At present, Ritual makes one chocolate bar: Costa Rica. Ritual purchased the Trinitario cacao beans for this chocolate directly from a single unnamed farm in Guapiles, Costa Rica. Thus, it is not only a single origin bar from Costa Rica, but also a plantation bar. The farm where the cacao was grown was certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance. Renown chocolate maker Steve DeVries oversaw the fermentation and sun drying of these cacao beans from the 2009 harvest.

Costa Rica was crafted from 75% cacao beans and 25% cane sugar. Both ingredients were organic, but the chocolate was not certified. The two ounce bar was scored into nine pieces. It came enclosed in thin gold-sided foil wrapped inside recycled brown paper with a product information label sealing it closed with double-sided tape. There was no production or best before date.

The color of the chocolate was a medium brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015). The surface was smooth, but had an uneven sheen (though not as dramatic as it appears in the photo above). The thickness of the bar was uneven, with the pieces on one end being substantially thicker than those on the other.

The bar had a hard snap. The initial aroma was a disagreeable chemical and vinegar. As we smelled the chocolate, strong scents of cocoa roast and earth were present. I also noticed some fruit.

Fortunately, the taste of Costa Rica had none of that initial aroma. Instead, it tasted fruity, and more specifically of a berry that Lindy identified as blackberry. We both experienced strong tannin and floral flavors. I found earth and sweet flavors as well, while Lindy found it bitter.

The melt was smooth. The flavor lasted 20 to 25 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving it a medium length. The final aftertaste was somewhat tannin.

You can purchase Costa Rica online for $9.00 directly from Ritual, or, to buy it along with other brands of chocolate, for $8.99 from Chocolopolis.

1 comment:

  1. This bar was from batch 7, which wasn’t our best batch to date. We were attempting a new roasting method with this batch, but it wasn’t quite perfected. A lot of the "bitter", "tannin" and astringent flavors in this batch were due to an abundance of several types of acids that weren’t balanced during the roast. Balancing the acidity is tricky because some acids are good for flavor while others are not.

    You might call batch 7 a "controversial" batch because we found that some people loved it and some people did not. So even though the results weren’t the best they could be, it was still pretty good. At the end of the day, no one could deny that it was a very unique tasting chocolate.

    What we’re continuing to learn is that our sun-dried, Costa Rican, 2009 vintage cacao beans are extraordinarily complicated. They’re not like any other beans we’ve ever worked with—no vinegar odors in the raw form yet easy to under roast, but very sensitive to high heat and easy to over roast. Let’s just say, at this point we’ve had to get very creative to finally master these beans, but we’re very happy with what we’ve been able to do with them.