Review: French Broad Chocolates – 68% Dark Chocolate Nicaragua (***1/2)

American Bean-To-Bar chocolate makers, I want to try all of their products! I can’t believe there isn’t such an amazing vibe of quality chocolate makers over here in Europe. The US sees new inspired producers starting all over the place. These artisan artists bring us some exceptional bars, showing what it is all about! Flavor. With a capital F!

Today we have a French Broad Chocolates bar in front of us. French Broad is located in Ashville, North Carolina.

Their story reads like an exciting adventure book. Dan and Jael Rattigan met, fell in love and bought an abandoned cacao farm in Costa Rica where they learned all about cacao. After opening their café “Bread and Chocolate” and getting excited about cacao as a life style – they went back to the US after some time to start French Broad, their own chocolate company. Quality, values and ambition go above everything and by the looks of it, their story is becoming a huge success. Soon they will be harvesting the first cacao from their own plantation and become one of the very few tree-to-bar producers in the world.

Anyway, today we look at their 68% Dark chocolate bar, featuring cacao from Matagalpa, Nicaragua. For me this will be my first time reviewing an artisan bar made of this single origin.

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The package looks nice. Some French style decorations give the bar class and make it stand out. The outer paper wrapper isn’t closed all the way around, so you can push out the actual bar. I love that, because I simply hate destroying packages so nicely designed! Putting the bar back is slightly more difficult, but manageable. I’m a big fan of this type of packaging!

Inside, an aluminum foil keeps the brown gold away from the light and a gorgeous yellow ribbon lays over the bar. Simple, yet surprising touches like this make you feel like opening a present and give a real luxurious feel about the chocolate. You know this isn’t any bulk bar you munch away without thinking about!

And then the bar itself appears.

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Cleanly scored, the bar offers what looks like a gazillion chocolate pieces, neatly arranged in a great looking bar. Even though it is just 60g, it looks and feels like a lot more. Every piece is stamped with the French Broad logo. A wonderful looking bar.

Bean: Not mentioned

Origin: Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Production: French Broad Chocolates – Ashville, North Carolina, USA

Price: Unknown – 60 g send to me by

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Color: deep and dark brown, promise of a potent chocolate

Aroma: slightly sweet, acidic, chocolate and wood

Taste: The bar starts with sweetness and toasted,earthy tones. An expressive opening moment grabbing your attention to the flavors to come. Espresso coffee and tannins hop along before some vanilla touches mellow the ride down. Twirling around, the acidity I noticed in the aroma returns and reminds me of citrus fruits – a sweet orange. Over all this full and warm toasted flavored bar offers a full-bodied chocolate, revealing gentle fruit aroma’s near the end of the melt. The texture isn’t super smooth, but the melt is perfect. Rich coffee tones carry the aftertaste – toasted aromas and bring forth more of the pleasant richness of the bar. This chocolate is characterised by a gentle taste profile, without throwing a zillion taste changes to the one who enjoys it. A very nice introduction to French Broad, though I feel they will have bigger surprises in store. I can’t wait to try their other bars!


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