June 9, 2011

The Grenada Chocolate Company – Organic Dark Chocolate 71% Cocoa – Martin Christy

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Written by: Martin Christy

I’ve known and loved The Grenada Chocolate Company since Mott Green first introduced the company to the UK back around 2002.

We’ve watched Grenada Chocolate grow up from being a small, innovative homespun chocolate maker and develop into an international fine chocolate brand, losing none of their colourful Carribean charm. along the way. They’ve survived through hurricanes and over time, have gradually improved the quality of their solar-powered organic chocolate.

Grenada Chocolate 71% - unwrapped

Grenada Chocolate 71% – unwrapped

Grenada Chocolate is almost unique in the world – the chocolate factory is right on the founding cacao farm, which brings big advantages in terms of cacao quality control, and almost zero ansport and storage issues, but also brings it a bunch of challenges with temperature and humidity control.

As a further hindrance, for a while, Grenada Chocolate had to use a blend including Costa Rican cacao, while waiting for the local tress to recover from the storms. The chocolate is now though all purely made from Grenadian cacao beans, grown on the company’s own farm and associated cooperatives.

Now a new roaster has finally eliminated any hint of smokiness or burnt notes at the ‘edge’ of the flavour profile. Grenada have really cracked chocolate making in tropical conditions, coming close to the quality we’d expect from the top European houses. (Back in 2005, we were calling this same bar ‘rustic’).

Tasting notes

The chocolate has a light, rich brown/burgundy colour. There is a masculine snap, as this is rather a thick bar. Raising a piece to the nose, there is a beautiful cocoa dust smell, with hints of sulphur, cream and a hint of figs.

Grenada Chocolate 71% – low roast gives a light burgundy sheen

There’s a soft crumble on biting into the chocolate, followed by a beautiful explosion of thick, rich dates, wine, toffee, some cream, spice, ginger and honey, figs and then (black) toffee, toffee, toffee. The sugar is Caribbean organic cane (or maybe Costa Rican, I forget), so not being pure white, there will be a flavour contribution here from the sugar.

I get definite hints of sulphur, which I find typical of Grenada and which remind me of a sulphured Dalmore single malt, or Dominican Republic rum. (Have to confess to not having tried Grenadian rum, if such a thing exists!) Completely gone are any hints of fat burning or and defects from the non-Grenadian beans.

The melt is thick and fudgy, but not at all sticky. After-taste is clean cacao, lightly tannic, with a little bitterness and continuing notes of  chocolate ginger cake with a scoop of full cream.

This is less fruity than the 82% bar, a style choice according to Mott, so slightly less appealing for my own palate and for this I’ve scored taste and opinion a little lower than I might. The 82% on the other hand is of course stronger, so I can’t help wondering how a fruity 72% would do.

On the other hand, Mott gave me this bar late last year, so it’s been in the review box for awhile and has probably benefited from sitting for awhile – the fruit side has evolved a little since I first tried this batch last September.

If you want to understand the flavour of Grenada, you need to try this chocolate. Here we find the full expression of the flavour notes only hinted at in the Grenadian cacao sourced through the Goverment controlled monopoly, as tried in the likes of Amedie and the Felchlin made Larry Burdick bar.

Speed eating

Here’s another take on the Grenada flavour. At our public talks, we’ve increasingly been demonstrating ‘slow motion’ and ‘high speed’ chocolate eating  as a way to show people how to eat chocolate. The point is it makes a world of difference to the flavour if you don’t eat chocolate the right way.

Eating super-slow, only melting the chocolate on the tongue with NO chewing at all, you can really get the full flavour experience. The ‘fast’ way is chocolate in the mouth super quick, no smelling, just chew the chocolate and gone in less than ten seconds. Now the cocoa butter has no time to melt and interact with the cacao solids. Fruity flavours tend to be missed and  tannins allowed to reign free. Try it on your favourite chocolate, you may be shocked by the difference.

So Grenada 71% eaten the fast way? (Took me about 11 seconds.) Faint chocolate, not bitter, ginger biscuits, nutty, very fatty after taste, lightly tannic without flavour, tannins increase after time. No hint of figs or toffee, except a hint a minute after eating. Altogether a different chocolate. Remember, eat it slow(ish).

Grenada 71% – the old version

Grenada Chocolate 71% – old style packaging

When Mott gave me samples of the new Grenada 71%, he also wanted me to make a comparison with the old style chocolate, made before the new roaster was in place and sold in the old style horizontal packaging (which was not so supermarket friendly, it seems.)

The aroma has a sharp intense floral note, almost like jasmin. The mould is the same as the new bar, the colour though has less  of burgundy tinge.

On tasting, at the beginning the flavour begins quite similarly to the new version – spice, ginger, toffee, but then dives off into milk, sour fruit then milk again. There’s also some bitterness and a lack of balance, which previously held back the bar from a higher score. The after-taste is again lightly tannic, but has something a little metallic going on as well and is a little fatty after a few minutes.

Grenada has always been enjoyable chocolate, but was held back processing limitations, it’s been improving with every step though, and while always moreish, now also stands up as a fine chocolate in its own right.


About the Author

Martin Christy
Martin Christy is Seventy%’s editor and founder and is a leading voice in the chocolate industry, promoting the cause of fine chocolate and fine cacao and those who produce them. With twenty years’ experience of fine chocolate, he has travelled extensively visiting cocoa plantations and meeting the world’s top producers and is a consultant to the fine chocolate and cacao growing industries worldwide. Martin is Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, which he founded in the UK with Kate Johns of Chocolate Week. He is also Acting Chairman of the new fine cacao and chocolate industry association, Direct Cacao and is a member of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative Tasting Panel. He is also a freelance writer about fine chocolate, contributing to UK magazines and several books about fine chocolate.



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