Belgium has long been a country renowned for chocolate. Industrial chocolate. But since the start of the bean to bar revolution in the chocolate world, only a few brave Belgians ventured into making their own product from the bean on.
Mario Vandeneede, founder of Chocolatoa, is on a mission teach the Belgian and international public about the virtues of real fine dark chocolate. Using his experience gathered by working in the cocoa production in Ecuador, he focuses on quality and flavor, above mass production. In the Belgian chocolate market, there is still a lot of work to be done to convince the general public into trying these flavorful chocolate bars. Mario hooked up with chocolaterie Gauthier in order to produce his products. Mario also offers workshops to people who are interested in the process of making your own chocolate.
Currently, Chocolatoa is producing two origin bars. Madagascar and Costa Rica. Mario has sent sample bars of both origins to beantobar.be for a review. People who follow this site will know by now that Madagascar is the origin that really convinced me about origin chocolate. The very first ever bar I purchased online what made with cocoa from this African island. I still remember it’s impact on my palate vividly. Such an amazing array of flavors. So it has become some sort of benchmark when I review products of producers I didn’t sample before. I know what to expect from a good Madagascan bar. Does Mario capture the essence of the origin in his bars?
First stop: the packaging. A very clean and simple design shows the Chocolatoa logo and the percentage and origin on separate stickers on a brown paper wrapper. On the back, tasting notes for the bar and a brief explanation about the origin of the Chocolatoa name. Prinses Toa and her grandson united the Inca empire during the Spanish conquest. With the same endurance, Chocolatoa strives to set up direct trade with the cocoa farmers.
Ingredient list, batch number and weight of the bar are displayed as well.
Where the actual visual design might be less extensive than other brands, It still offers the feel this is something special. And on the practical side, this package is simply brilliant. It is not a wrapper, but a small bag which can be sealed. The outside is cardboard, the inside aluminum foil. You can reseal the bag after every sampling session, thus storing the chocolate in optimal condition.
I expected the bar to be simple in design, just like the packaging. Maybe one of the more generic molds used in the bean to bar world. Yet it is a stunning piece of chocolate. A 40 g, rectangular piece with nicely rounded corners and scored with non parallel lines, creating pieces with different sizes. The molding quality is exceptional, sharp lined and nearly no visible air bubbles. Though the bar is limited in weight, it is generously thick and looks larger than it actually is. A sight for sore eyes.
Bean: Not mentioned
Origin: Madagascar – Millot plantation
Batch: 0044 (2016)
Maker: Chocolatoa – Mechelen – Belgium
Price: Sample bar (€ 3,60 on www.reen.be) – 40 g
Colour: A lighter shade of brown with a reddish hue. Almost like a high percentage milk bar
Aroma: Earthy, roasted coffee, tropical wood, green cocoa, tobacco
Taste: Starts with a dash of earthy espresso coffee, but soon powerful, high fruity notes come forth. Yuzu citrus fruit and red currant pop to mind. The fruits remain very clear on the palate. Underneath a sweeter note carries the fruity flavor. Roasted nuts, brown sugar and a whiff of vanilla. Later on, a lactic sensation – resembling cheese cake emerges. The fruits fade away gradually and dried tropical wood tannins appear. The aftertaste leaves you with gentle deep chocolate notes and smoky wood in the back. A medium long finish, less intense than the main flavor.
For a 80% bar, the overall sensation is light and extremely fruity. The melt is great, but texture wise the chocolate is just a tad to clingy and filming, without becoming to distracting or subduing the flavors.
It had been quiet a while since I’ve experienced such vibrant fruits in a Madagascan bar. This is the exact sensation I fell in love with several years ago. Yet I understand this bar might be overwhelming to people who have never experienced this type of chocolate or percentage. But my oh my… those fruits. I simply love them! And the best indication of them all? The bar doesn’t scare my three year old boy and one year old girl away. Whenever I open the package, they come standing next to me with big eyes. “More” is all they say. “More coco”. Recommended for extreme fruity chocolate lovers.