One of the most visible Fair Trade companies in the UK comes out with an ultra-percentage chocolate. Whether this is a wise thing to do with a source such as Ghana, which typically does not fare well at high percentages, is questionable. However, given Divine’s propensity to use high cocoa butter percentages, it might work. Here they use 50.8% cocoa butter, so everything suggests a mild chocolate very much like similar products from Hachez. Certainly this bar demonstrates Kuapa Kokoo’s determination push the envelope of offerings and take a few risks.
Alex Rast: 20-Feb-2011
A reasonably good ultra-percentage chocolate, especially considering the source. This one appears to extract as much as possible out of the potential of Ghana beans while at the same time avoiding the kind of flatness that is almost endemic at 85%. When you consider that Michel Cluizel, Valrhona, and other giants have not (thus far) been able to do any better at this percentage, and in some cases, worse, this chocolate must be seen as quite an achievement. While not necessarily the very best of chocolates at this concentration, it’s worthy of consideration.
Out of the wrapper, the chocolate predictably looks very dark and sombre indeed, as much a product of the bean type as the percentage. Moulding is, nonetheless, very good, even if in the sample tested, some chipping indicated distribution woes. The aroma gives much more hope than one would, a priori, have any reason to expect, rich and deep with raisin and blackberry, woody and mahogany. To be sure, a hint of coconut and some cream indicate potential flatness, but there is nothing to strike serious chords of alarm, and in particular it’s clear this chocolate hasn’t been mercilessly overroasted.
While offering no surprises from the aroma, the flavour itself brings no disappointments either, confirming the nose’s impressions with an initial raisin burst, then a cocoa middle. A bit of coconut arrives, but then is quickly eclipsed by a stronger and much more pleasant hint of almond, relieving the bar of a sensation of flatness or heaviness. It’s all rather tame and predictable, but in a comforting way rather than a dull way.
No real surprises, either, on the melt, which proves to be extremely smooth and creamy, if a bit waxy as is to be expected when the cocoa butter goes above half the total mass of the bar. All it all it adds to a feeling of safe, easy pleasure that, if not providing excitement, is perfectly acceptable. Divine have here done a good job of making the most of the source they have, and producing a bar that doesn’t intimidate at 85%. So often African-source ultra-percentage bars are off-puttingly flat and bitter, and tend to sour one’s experience on the potential of an 85%, but this one shows that it can be done at least reasonably well. One must hope that other manufacturers will be encouraged to follow Divine’s stylistic lead in bars of this category.