Alex Rast: 11-Sep-2010
A very bright chocolate for an Ecuador origin, Amano’s interpretation here indicates that there may be a lot more range in the Ecuador Arriba than the typical blackberry/molasses we’ve all come to expect. Not that the initial impression upon viewing the bar conveys any of this – it’s fairly typical, the darker, purplish black that Ecuador origins tend to have. Slight bubbling in the finish is minor and little to worry about in an otherwise good presentation. Aroma is a little more problematic, not in the sense of the characteristics but inasmuch as it’s barely there: very faint indeed. Perhaps it can be said to be floral and tropical, which is often ascribed to Arriba, if rarely fulfilled, and there is a hint of something woodier, cedar or perhaps tobacco with a hint of smoke, but overall it seems smothered behind vanilla. Not promising.
However, the flavour immediately hits with power, a sour citrussy taste dominating initially, then moving to something like creme fraiche. The cedar hinted at, if evanescently, in the aroma, manifests itself with full force, although the bar then rapidly turns earthy with clear bitterness. Not bad, but somewhat jarring, as if the flavours haven’t really been bedded in.
Texture is OK but a bit dry and dusty, as if the cocoa butter percentage is low – and this could be the reason for the slightly harsh flavour. A little higher cocoa butter might moderate the sharper edges of the flavour and help to bring them all together, and it would definitely improve the mouthfeel. Amano must be commended for revealing dimensions in the Ecuador Arriba previously unsuspected, but in their zeal to expose these characteristics they may have gone a little too far. This one feels like a first experiment that needs a little work. One more try, with maybe a slightly longer roast and a definite cocoa butter boost, should take this from a “good-but” bar to a great bar.
Hans-Peter Rot: 20-Mar-2010
More and more of AmanoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s bars lately have taken on a distinct fermented twang, accented by purplish-red fruits such as cherries or prunes. And while Guayas is certainly no exception, it lacks anything else to differentiate itself from AmanoĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s small but strong roster of bars. With the exception of heady raisins and low blueberry the aroma is, by comparison, too average and even too mild to impart any positive impressions.
Starting bold and deep like many Ecuadorians do, the chocolate is actually off to a great start, enriching its tone with cream, a subtle acidity, and a slight undertone of raisin and blackberry the entire length. As rich and pleasing as it is, though, the flavor has a serene, passive feel due to its relative lack of vigor and distinct highs and lows in the profile.
Not building upon its base flavors makes Guayas very much an inert chocolate as well, which isnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t always a negative trait but serves as one here sinceĂ˘â‚¬â€ťas mentionedĂ˘â‚¬â€ťthe flavor is fairly level and tame overall. Amano is usually good at hitting the mark on most origins, but it is a bit off-kilter on Ecuadorian turf. The origin can be tough to consistently produce good results with, and Guayas has certainly furnished several challenges the company needs to overcome to make Ecuador a capable option in its roster of bars.