July 31, 2006
Finally put what we have left of Cuyagua in the shop. The wholesale price wasn't cheap, hence the high retail. Still, could be the only chance with this one, unless they decide to make it again.
March 17, 2005
Now that the Cuyagua is mostly gone, they've got a new single origin called "El Carmen":
I tried it for the first time this morning, but unfortunately I don't think it's quite in the same category as the Cuyagua was. Not as long or complex a flavor, and pretty sweet for 75%. Still, well worth checking out, and it does feature some really intense berry flavors for anybody who likes that typical Scharffen Berger profile...
August 1, 2006
I tried El Carmen too, but I hardly remember it. It was definitely red - berries and maybe cherries dominating the palate. The Gianduja bar, though, is excellent. Definitely not a sweet gianduja, and it has a nice darkness to it. I need to get my hands on some of these bars [}:)]
I would expect the same quality from Scharffen Berger since John is concentrating solely on the sourcing. This means he can source better beans and perhaps more of them as well. I wonder if they plan on expanding their production, though.
Just fyi--they've temporarily pulled the Gianduja, since the copacker putting it back together back east had some pretty serious mixing issues. Many of the bars were either sweet hazelnut with a dusting of chocolate or dark chocolate with a hint of hazelnut I got one of the former and it was pretty unpleasant.
On the production front, I'd be shocked and amazed if they didn't open a second facility (can somebody say Pennsylvania?) to bump up Scharffen Berger output. The real question is whether they'll be able to source enough quality cacao to continue such rapid growth...
August 1, 2006
Yeah, I was suspecting a second production plant as well because, after all, Hershey's didn't get where they are by thinking small (or producing small for that matter). It certainly raises questions about Scharffen Berger's ability to source enough quality cacao as well and if they can maintain the same quality. Despite all the speculation and assumptions, only time will tell.
Regarding the gianduja mix-ups, that certainly is a bad sign, and I really hope it does not portend of things to come! How did that happen?
I definitely didn't get all the details...it just came up in a quick conversation with one of their chocolate makers (as a caveat when he gave me the sample bar I described above.
Actually, the issue of dealing with multiple copackers/outsourcers is something that might just get better with Hershey's than before, since (as you point out) they've got lots of experience with large scale operations...
Scharffen Berger has done another Cuyagua bar as #8 in its limited edition series ( http://tinyurl.com/ywu3oz ). Just picked up a few from my local Whole Foods.
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