Forget all about those “raw” chocolates whose main purpose seems mostly to be resolutely Alternative as opposed to offering a genuine chocolate experience. Pacari here creates a raw chocolate whose first priority is clearly a quality product and whose second priority is clearly something that is recognisably chocolate.

Indeed, there is nothing in this bar outside of the label to give away its raw origins – Pacari have succeeded in creating a raw chocolate that genuinely achieves something recognisably chocolatey. This is raw chocolate for those who actually expect their chocolate to taste like it.


Reviews

Georg Bernardini: 18-Feb-2012

Posted: February 18, 2012 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 7.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 7.5 15%
Opinion: 7.5 30%
Total/100: 78.00 100%
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Rating: 6.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Look/Snap:
Nice dark brown colour, shiny and with good snap

Aroma:
Ecuadorian cocoa is not my favourite cocoa, but I like the aroma of this bar. This chocolate has the taste as it should have. Fruity (citrus fruits), fermantation and lightly Jasmin.

Taste:
This is the real deficit of this bar. The taste is not fruity for me, it is sour, too sour and I can taste also a little bit astrigency. The sourness overshadow the fruity taste too much. There is no control over the sourness during the production.

Melt & Lenght:
Nice melt and the lenght is ok.

This is a polarizing chocolate and for real chocoholics. I like the arome, but due to the strong sourness this chocolate is not one of my favourite.

Alex Rast: 3-Jan-2012

Posted: January 3, 2012 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 9.5 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 9.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 91.25 100%
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Batch num: 208
Source: Sourced by Seventypercent
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Rating: 6.7/10 (6 votes cast)

An absolutely splendid batch that confirms that in the world of raw chocolate, there is Pacari, and then there are the hoi polloi. Still the only fine raw chocolate in the word, and a particularly fine one this time, demonstrating again that raw chocolate can be as good as “ordinary” chocolates.

As one might expect, the colour is very light indeed, certainly relative to roasted chocolates, and while Pacari has always been a little less than obsessive about appearance, this one doesn’t look overly distorted – and certainly there aren’t any marks of real trouble in tempering and moulding. Aroma is actually surprisingly dark, hinting at blackberries and brown sugar in the way a “typical” Ecuadorian chocolate might. However an utter contrast of citrus and vinegar is entirely unlike typical Ecuadorean chocolates – and shows what we might be missing, other than here. A few woody traces also demonstrate what raw chocolate leaves in, namely the tannins that can make a chocolate great or simply bitter.

Flavour is like an explosion in a fruit-packing factory, with raspberries and redcurrants competing for attention. However, a subtle creamy modulation prevents the chocolate from just becoming sour, and indeed the flavour flows convincingly towards the sort of smooth, earthy coffee notes one might expect of a roasted bar. Can this really all be coming from raw chocolate?

Texturally the bar is good, although it doesn’t rank with the best of the European manufacturers. But with chocolate this good, those differences seem neither here nor there. This is a demonstration of definitive fermenting and conching techniques at their ultimate, and makes a case for the idea that roasting is perhaps an utterly superfluous step.

Nancy Gilchrist: 6-Dec-2011

Posted: December 6, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8 10%
Look/snap: 9 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 8 15%
Opinion: 8.5 30%
Total/100: 84.25 100%
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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Appearance: A glossy, warm red-toned dark chocolate. Firm snap. Good density.

Aroma: Very attractive, fresh juicy exotic fruits such as mango, papaya, banana with sweet-sour acidic edge to it and some cinnamon spice.

Taste: This chocolate continues to surprise, confound, intrigue… I have tasted it on at least five different occasions over the past two weeks and it would seem to have a kaleidoscopic range of flavours that change and change again. Sometimes the initial impression is distinctly vegetal: mangetout, asparagus, even dill; a sweetly green savoury flavour. Then it can and usually does follow a wonderfully lifted, vivacious mango, passion fruit and something elderflowery about it. To me this is a very dynamic chocolate; it varies so continually on the palate. Really very complex. It may not appeal to everyone and it is not a chocolate to be hurried; it requires time to taste. Very individual. Texture and melt are pleasingly refined. Length is moderately long.

Stuart Robson: 8-Dec-2010

Posted: December 8, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 9 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 88.50 100%
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Rating: 9.8/10 (8 votes cast)

I won’t ruminate on the whole idea of Raw chocolate here as it has already been touched upon by a fellow reviewer, but instead get straight to the bar itself. The colour has more of a red tint than I would normally expect from the origin and the overall finish is a touch uneven, as we have come to expect from Pacari, with some swirls and the odd patch of light bubbling.

The aroma is just as distinctive and lively, with the typical winey, fermentation-like notes so often a key component of Pacari’s style. Some slightly wild citric elements sit alongside blackcurrant and a delicately woody, oak like presence.

The initial attack is beautifully sharp and acidic with immediate lemon rind and pink grapefruit notes. The fermentation-like flavours arrive with guava skin and added blackcurrant that almost fizzes with intensity .The woody qualities start to show themselves in an attempt to add a little balance to what is a highly uncompromising profile. The tannins are very firm indeed now but the texture is remarkable, the melt being even and surprisingly smooth with only the merest hint of graininess.

Unquestionably the finest “raw” chocolate I have tasted and while I am sure it will polarize opinion, anyone with a passion for fine chocolate should sample this. I personally enjoy this sort of profile, with its sheer boldness and intensity of flavour, and there is little doubt that Pacari have produced a wonderful display of what can be done with this treatment. What is particularly pleasing is that they have sacrificed little of their established house style and in many ways this feels very much like Pacari, only at full volume.

Alex Rast: 2-Oct-2010

Posted: October 2, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9.5 10%
Look/snap: 7.5 5%
Taste: 8.5 35%
Melt: 9 5%
Length: 9.5 15%
Opinion: 9 30%
Total/100: 88.75 100%
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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)

A completely different experience from other “raw” chocolates – this one actually tastes like chocolate. And not merely chocolate, but really good chocolate, too: this is one of the best chocolates, in any category, much less in the raw chocolate category where it may fairly be regarded as the only fine chocolate. Pacari eschews bizarre ingredients or aggressive promotion of health virtues in favour of a product which speaks for itself through the taste. So often things touted to us as “healthy” are then presented to us in forms so bizarre that one wonders if it’s even food, much less anything good, but Pacari leaves no doubt, and also reveals something perhaps never hinted at before: Raw chocolate tastes good.

Without the roasting step, this chocolate is clearly a shade lighter than the typical Ecuador, although still quite dark, the colour of fertile soil. Mould unevenness, as with other Pacaris, remains a little bit problematic, but conforms well to a “raw” image. The appearance, however, is instantly forgotten next to the unforgettable, and unforgettably complex, aroma: strawberry and blackberry along with brown sugar, then raisin. Further hints of woody and spice complete a picture of incredible density, the nasal equivalent of looking into a lush jungle. Aromas come at you in layers and appear literally to have texture and overlap, quite a contrast from more normal chocolates where the aromas, however good, tend to have a more uniform, distinct presentation.

The initial flavour is very sour, grapefruit and other citrus prevailing: here is what raw chocolate delivers that a roast would eliminate! But after a brief dusty pause other flavours come out: strawberry and raisin, with slight woody hints. Clearly there isn’t the kind of modulated balance of a roasted chocolate: this one provides bold, uncompromising flavours that demand attention. Remarkably, however, it’s clear that roast contributes less than one might imagine to the typical chocolate: the palette of flavours here is much the same (if in much starker relief) and the taste is sufficiently convincing to make one wonder why roasting chocolate is thought of almost as pre-requisite.

Just as impressively, Pacari give this a very smooth and creamy finish, so that any impression of “raw” in the sense of crude and unfinished is immediately dispelled. They leave absolutely no doubt that the intention here was to make a good chocolate that is recognisably so. The better part of this is that they have succeeded. Intent is one thing: realisation is quite another, and Pacari have a raw chocolate bar worth eating for its own sake, not merely for the purpose of feeling virtuous. For the health-conscious determined to have only raw chocolate, this should be a no-brainer: it is the only chocolate worth considering. For the rest of us, it adds another chocolate to try and enjoy in the company of the very best.



About the Author

Alex Rast
Alex Rast is a long-time chocolate experimenter, taster and part-time consultant to chocolate companies. Starting in 1990 with early experiments himself in making chocolate, he quickly moved into evaluating chocolates in commercial production and assisting other companies in improving process. Over the course of many years he has evaluated over 700 distinct chocolate bars. He is one of the earliest reviewers for SeventyPercent and has helped to define and systematise the ratings system. In addition to bar chocolate, he also experiments with chocolate baking and the formulation of "canonical" recipes for classic chocolate items.