Mike&Becky in Uccle, Brussels. For many people, this name has become equal to a heartwarming welcome in one of the best hot chocolate bars in Belgium. A great chocolate shop as well. And always a treat to see their grinders at work in the workshop.
Björn Becker and Julia Mikerova are some of the most enthusiastic origin chocolate makers I’ve met so far. They are engaged in their local community, but also gather other chocolate makers and lovers in various events and meetings. It is always a pleasure to visit their wonderful chocolate bar/shop. It feels different if you have seen how and where the chocolate is made. One relates more to the procduct in that way.
During our last meeting, Björn slipped me a special bar. Their 70% India. Especially intriguing as during the same meeting I met with Ellen Taerwe form Go Ground Beans Spices, the people who supplied Mike&Becky with the beans for this chocolate. Ellen, being Belgian and her husband Luca Beltrami from Italy, are running a post-harvest facility in Udumbanoor in India. Just like Mike&Becky, who are a German Russian couple making chocolate in Belgium, it shows that nationality really isn’t that important in the world of fine chocolate. The craft of both treating cocoa and chocolate making can be done by anyone who sets their mind to it and beautiful products are achieved this way. The story of Ellen and Luca is intriguing, so I will write a separate article on their company soon.
I just recently discovered that India is a growing origin in the chocolate world. I had heared about Indian cocoa before, but often the reports were less positive on the quality side. Go Ground Beans and Spices go for quality above quantity and after hearing praise for different chocolate makers around the table, I was more than happy to try one of the chocolate bars made with their cocoa.
Mike&Becky’s products are well thought through. The package, design and chocolate bar make clear that this is a special product. The resealable cardboard sleeve shows graphic designed Indian elephants. It reveals the origin as India, High Range Organic Producers Society, Idukki. The percentage of 70% means this is a perfect bar to appreciate what flavors the cocoa can bring.
On the back of the sleeve, there is more info to be found. The cocoa producer, the cocoa type and – finally someone is starting to do this – the harvest. This bas is made with beans harvested in 2017. The ingredients list is short. Organic cocoa, organic beet sugar and organic cocoa butter.
If you think you are done reading, think again. Open the package up and more info appears. A text on Mike&Becky, a graphic overview of the chocolate making process and a description on how to properly taste real chocolate.
The bar uses the same mold as every other Mike&Becky bar, but it is a thing of beauty. I’ve praised this design before for its awesome 3D effect when you let the light play along. It just looks special.
Origin: India – High Range Organic Producers Society
Price: sample – 70 g
Batch: 534 – best before 12/2018
Color: Deep dark brown, almost black
Aroma: roasted cocoa, red fruit, tropical wood, slight spices
Taste: This bar starts off instantly with a generous flash of chocolate and sweet brown sugar and molasses. Quickly the flavor is infused by a screaming dash of sweet and sour fruit flavors. It’s like riding a wild river. Fresh blue berries pop up and are pushed aside by green banana, wood and finally some subtle ginger/pepper in the back of the throat. The aromas twirl around and keep changing focus. Peaks of gentle acidity are engulfed with lush chocolate and then the flavor turns around once more, showing wood and spices. The changes happen so fast, it is difficult to grasp them before the next wave pops up. Before you know it, the chocolate is gone and you are left with a very satisfying after flavor, a bit more woody and earthy, yet still with an abundance of sweet chocolate. Great length and persistence.
India is synonym for spices, colorful and delightful food and exotic vibes. Though there are spices to be found in this India bar made by Mike&Becky, it also reveals a wonderful amount of fruits, wood and especially chocolaty notes. Somehow this clashed with my expectations, yet made the tasting experience even more intriguing. It is at the same time another great example of why the genetics of the bean is to be used careful aswel. Forastero is mainly seen as a bulk cocoa bean. But cocoa designated Forastero is so genetically diverse, it can hardly be used as an indication of flavor quality. The Forastero beans used here are packed full of flavor and deserve the status of flavor cocoa, based on the bar Mike&Becky produced wiyh it.
By all means, try it for yourself and make sure to enjoy the flavor ride!