When visiting the Chocolate Heaven festival in Maastricht earlier this year, I was wandering past the different booths of the chocolate sellers displaying their goods. It is always great to see all the known brands on offer, but what intrigues me during shows are the bars I don’t know. Kuyay caught my eye and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor profile of the sample pieces. Yet after sampling over a dozen chocolates, your palate can play tricks on you. So I took home their plain 70% bar for an in depth review – focusing exclusively on this new discovery.
Kuyay is one of the latest Peruvian chocolate companies emerging on the European market. Being one of the thriving cocoa regions in South-Africa, Peru sees a lot of new chocolate makers popping up all over the country. Making chocolate at the origin offers new added value for the South-American nation. Long gone are the days when cocoa was a pure export product. Peru has been sending out its chocolate products all over the world and one must say, with good results.
Some research on the Kuyay brand, learned me that the company commercializing it (Reycal SAC) isn’t a pure chocolate maker, but rather a cocoa producer and post-harvest company. As I can work out, the actual chocolate is made by Qulinaria Peru SAC (aslo producing Shatell Chocolate). To me, this is not a problem. They might not be a pure bean-to-bar chocolate maker in this case, but many examples in the fine chocolate world show that the combination of a quality cocoa producers paired with a fine chocolate maker can yield superb results. And the final chocolate bar is what matters most to me.
Kuyay is a family company owning cocoa plantations in the northern part of Peru. Their clonal garden houses 135 different native cocoa varieties and the company overviews the fermentation and drying process in cooperation with the farmers in order to achieve the best quality cocoa. Their chocolate product range features 50% milk bars, 70%,80 and 90% pure bars and a variety of the 50% and 70% bars with inclusions. All made with home grown fine cocoa from the single region Bagua Grande.
The package looks less premium oriented than those of many bars I encounter. The white box imprinted in Spanish shows the brand, the cocoa percentage and type of chocolate (chocolate bitter). A drawing of a cocoa tree and a lama (or is it an alpaca?) refers to the country of Peru. On the back, the ingredients list and the nutritional info. The ingredients read Pasta de cacao orgánica, panela orgánica y manteca de cacao orgánica. I love to read this in Spanish. Cacao paste, a traditional non-refined South-American cane sugar and cocoa butter. All ingredients are organic. Perfect, the holy trinity of fine chocolate.
Opening the box, a decorated foil appears. Nice touch, mostly these foils are plain colored. The decoration with cocoa pods and the brand adds to the feel of quality. The bar itself is generously thick. The design is pretty standard, large rectangular pieces are scored superficial and each piece is embossed with the Kuyay logo. Nothing fancy. But the smell it produces is heavenly and makes my heart beat faster.
Bean: Not mentioned
Origin: Peru – Jahuanga – Bagua Grande District – Amazon
Maker: Reycal Company SAC – Lima -Peru
Price: £ 6,45 – 70 g (online shop www.thechocolatesourcingcompany.uk)
Batch: Best before 03/07/19 – Batch 00725-17
Color: A reddish-brown
Aroma: Floral, chocolaty and elusive licorice and wood
Taste: Starting with a surprising floral start, soon a wave of Anise/licorice flavor rolls in. Black berry fruit acidity pops up in the back and slowly comes to the front to cuts through the main flavor. The floral notes keep twinkle around when you allow some air in your mouth. The chocolate punches with full flavors, though light and nimble. I can’t quiet compare it to any other bars I had so far. No bitterness, no roasted tones. Volatile banana and roasted nuts pop up without warning and dissipates again with more air intake. The black fruits turn to blood orange but don’t build in strength anymore. Juts before the end of the melt some leather and wood flavors make for a final turn in the flavor profile. The light after flavor shows some more roasted, fruity floral aroma’s that are hard to decipher.
This is one curious piece of chocolate. So different from what I tasted up to date, it surprises me. It seems to lack some of the roasted cocoa tones you will find in nearly every chocolate bar and carries quiet a flavor punch, while remaining light hearted and fresh on the palate. The power of the flavors grab my attention instantly and an interesting secondary flavor layer develops if you breath in some air through your mouth while the melt still goes on. A lovely complexity makes for a fine piece of chocolate!
Kuyay received a gold medal in the international chocolate awards 2017 – Peru round.
International Chocolate Awards – Peru Competition – winners 2017
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PS. Actually it’s a deer that lives with the local family that runs the cacao crop field.