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Best bean sources in the world?
April 30, 2007
4:46 pm
Juan Francisco Mollinedo
Guatemala City, Guatemala
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Since I am not an expert, I would like to know, Which places on earth are the best sources for the best beans?…

Great always to hear from you !!!

Juan Francisco

Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate

Juan Francisco Mollinedo Cacaos de Mesoamérica, S.A. ITZEL CHOCOLATE Guatemala   “Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate”
April 30, 2007
6:19 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
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February 14, 2006
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The village of Chuao in Venezuela, hands down.

April 30, 2007
7:24 pm
Chrissie
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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July 4, 2006
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I second that! Chuao is my alltime favourite. I must say that most the single origin chocolate I rate most highly comes from Venezuela.

Although there aren’t as many chocolates made with beans from the Dominican Republic, the ones I’ve tried are exceptional.

May 1, 2007
4:45 am
seneca
USA
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While there’s certainly nothing wrong with Chuao, I just don’t believe there’s any clear answer to that question.

There are fine producers with wonderful focus and results in lots of parts of the cacao world. For Forastero, there’s Ghana and Sao Tome. Criollo? Venezuela and Madagascar. Trinitario? Dominican Republic and Trinidad. Then there’s always Ecuador…And those answers are just at the extremely broad national level.

My real hope is that as the premium chocolate continues to take off we’ll see an increased information exchange between growers, agronomists and chocolate makers to improve the quality of products all along the supply chain, from growth, pick, ferment and dry, all the way to finished chocolate.

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com
http://www.bittersweetcafe.com

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
May 1, 2007
7:03 am
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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I’m a big fan of the Sambirano region in Madagascar…for my taste at least…

Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
May 3, 2007
1:52 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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October 13, 2009
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quote:


Originally posted by Eshra

The village of Chuao in Venezuela, hands down.


Well, I wouldn’t state it as flatly as that, although I’m also no fan either of the disclaimed-to-death watered-down statement. A strong case can be made for it, no doubt, and let’s not deny that it is astonishing.

However how much of that is as much the felicitous combination of the right manufacturer for the right bean? As we’ve seen with the Dominican Republic’s Conacado cooperative, Domori achieves unbelievable greatness while Dagoba falls flat on their face. Manufacturers have a major role to play and Amedei got obsessive. It’s like the Ford Prefect line “You can’t beat obsession. They care, we don’t. They win”.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Dominican Republic, I’m inclined to include that among my list of the best places. Chocolate after chocolate from there has been world-class (Dagoba notwithstanding), culminating in Cluizel’s Los Ancones: another example of the right manufacturer for the right bean.

Most of the chocolates I’ve had originating from the Aragua region in Venezuela have been excellent. It’s certainly got the most name-brand recoginition with Chuao and Ocumare.

I find Colombia also to be very good – in consistency better than neighbouring Ecuador, which tends to be uneven but probably has more potential.

Lots of choices, no absolute answers. But let’s not deny that there *are* relatively better and relatively worse sources for chocolate.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
May 4, 2007
12:16 am
seneca
USA
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Like any varietal food, there is naturally a spectrum of quality in cacao, but I guess maybe I just don’t see this way of asking the question as very meaningful in the larger picture.

You might as well ask oenophiles where in the world the best grapes are grown–there are an awful lot of good responses to the question, but in the end it comes down to a matter of taste.

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com
http://www.bittersweetcafe.com

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
May 4, 2007
1:57 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by seneca

Like any varietal food, there is naturally a spectrum of quality in cacao, but I guess maybe I just don’t see this way of asking the question as very meaningful in the larger picture.


***WARNING: LONG POST FOLLOWS***

I agree that the question as posed is ambiguous. Definitely, there are no absolute answers: because it can’t be an absolute question. But there is one point that I would like to comment on – it’s something of a digression, so I apologise in advance but I think it bears mentioning.

When one asks for “best”, there are 2 contexts in which this could be taken: best as related to some sort of rank order, and best as related to some sort of rating. It’s the first context which causes more trouble in consideration of meaning, because rank order wipes out any consideration of relative differences in merit – and imposes an implied absolute linear scale where #1 is as much better than #2 as #2 is than #3, and so on. It’s not that the assigners of rankings have in mind that it’s a linear scale as such, but by expressing things as a ranking any information that might have been gleaned as to their relative differences has been eliminated. And if you think of “best” as meaning specifically #1, or perhaps even #’s 1 through n, you then eliminate consideration of the merits of number n+1, which might be unfair, probably doesn’t reflect the situation accurately, and provides no room to express the subjective nature of the evaluation, especially not the probability that others will disagree.

But if “best” is considered with respect to *rating* then things change dramatically. In that context, a statement like “xxx chocolate consistently rates high” – or even “rates at an average of nnn” isn’t an absolute judgement of comparative standing but rather a statement of where some chocolate lies relative to “neutral” subjective factors.
And a rating doesn’t drop information about relative differences, so that you know, for example, not only whether some chocolates are much better than others or at most infinitesimally better, but also in what categories one has advantages. It’s important to note, too, that in this context, you can’t simply take a collection of ratings, order them according to size, and produce a “ranking” that has any accuracy. But you can get some idea of the range to expect, and then you have at least a framework to talk about “best” as a ratings category.

And one final point about “best”. The term itself is inherently a subjective qualifier. No matter what field you’re in, whether talking about chocolate or evaluating power output of aircraft engines, “best” is, by definition, a statement of opinion and not fact. I don’t therefore agree with the idea that to ask for the best or to talk about the best is any sort of implied statement of fact: indeed, quite the reverse, it’s an implied statement of opinion. So I don’t think there’s anything basically wrong about talking about the best. Again, in fact I think the reverse is true – it’s common to subdue discussions about “best” under the rubric of it being subjective – this risks lending the false impression that there are no meaningful quality differentiations to be made or that there are no consenses on anything. When that happens, people believe, in the case of chocolate, that it doesn’t matter because it’s all a commodity anyway, so that it is hardly worth the effort to look into good chocolate. Worse still, in that kind of environment, a statement about “best” can be taken as some sort of implied judgement upon those who happen to disagree, utterly perverting the nature of the statement. So I do think there’s value in talking about the best.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
May 4, 2007
4:12 am
seneca
USA
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I certainly agree with the gist of that. Discussions of quality are vital to the further development of fine chocolate–it’s just that even best practices on the farm can be so local as to make discussions of great growing regions not so meaningful. After all, (just one example) there are some pretty junky commodity growers just down the road from the Los Ancones farm, with nowhere near the same competencies, but we tend to talk about cacao from the DR as if these fine grain differences weren’t there.

I think this is partially due to the relatively undeveloped positioning and understanding of chocolate in the consumer marketplace, and also partially a result of the cacao growing world’s traditional focus on seed size and weight (production per tree) as the sole arbiter of value, rather than true quality.

I am highly sympathetic to the idea of reversing both those trends, and insofar as discussions of origin quality help, then I’m all for it…I just think we need to be as clear and honest as possible so that the information we deliver actually helps that process of market discipline along rather than muddying the waters.

Thanks for the digression, Alex!

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com
http://www.bittersweetcafe.com

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
May 4, 2007
7:35 am
Juan Francisco Mollinedo
Guatemala City, Guatemala
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February 16, 2007
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Dear Chocofriends,

I have to confess that each of your answers have enrich very much my understanding of what you, the gourmet market, is looking for from producers of Fine and Flavour Cacao. And the thoughts from Alex are valid to me, so I would like to suggest for you to vote for the top five ranking bean countries (or regions) and/or producers in the world. (in a way that expresses your true thoughts and is comfortable to you)

I understand that asking this way can get closer to a good opinion on your behalf. By the way, Thank you for being so generous with your answers and for your attention to my questions…Remember I am trying to learn.

Thank you

Juan Francisco
Guatemala

Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate

Juan Francisco Mollinedo Cacaos de Mesoamérica, S.A. ITZEL CHOCOLATE Guatemala   “Mayan Kakaw is Guatemala’s contribution to the gourmet world of chocolate”
May 4, 2007
2:49 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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April 24, 2004
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The short answer Venezuela, Madagascar and the Caribbean.

But then it also comes down to the manufacturer – Valrhona has done wonders with Ampamakia, while Bonnat roasted these beans too much. El rey does wonders with the Carenero, Domori does wonders with Carupano – while Amedei’s Chuao is very good, but IMHO lacks personality – it’s too subtle. And the inherent Amedei raisin taste kills it a bit. from the Caribbean, I love Grenada and Gran Couva and Los Ancones.

The point is that the choc maker must “respect” the beans. All makers have their characteristic taste profile, and this must fit with the beans. Amedei’s slightly dark and raisin like taste tend to hide the differences between different beans, IMHO. (But their Toscano 66% is wonderful!). Domori and Valrhona make good Madagascars, while Bonnat’s dark roasting does not suit those beans – the choc taste “Bonnat” instead of “Madagascar”. And so on… The same is valid for Cluizel; Los Ancones is very good, but his other chocs tend to taste a bit too much “smoky Cluizel”.

OK, this waqs quite rambling, but I think you got the point…[:D]

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
May 4, 2007
7:40 pm
ChemicalMachine
USA
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June 5, 2005
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Many of my favorite bars are made with beans from the Indonesian region. I have read that this region is not dry enough for the proper treatment of the beans, but I find the chocolate first rate nevertheless.

Maralumi is my favorite origin bar by Michel Cluizel and the Papouasie is my favorite Pralus bar. I read in the chocopaedia that this is a difficult origin, but I have not yet tried a bad bar from Papau New Guinea.

I also enjoy the Michel Cluizel 72% blended bar, which includes beans from Java. I plan on trying the 72% Nuancier Pures Origines du Monde package, which includes some pure Java chocolate, to gain a better understanding of the 72% blend.

I also enjoy all of Bonnat’s milk bars, from Java and Sumatra.

May 5, 2007
7:50 pm
Chrissie
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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July 4, 2006
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quote:


Originally posted by ChemicalMachine

I have not yet tried a bad bar from Papau New Guinea.


Have you tried L’Artisan’s Madong bar? Although perhaps it is unfair to call it a bad chocolate as it is quite interesting, I found it quite unpleasant. On the packaging they describe as the marmite of chocolate i.e. love it or hate it. I know which camp I’m in!

Christine