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Can a 100% Forastero bar taste OK?
November 19, 2006
1:32 am
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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January 10, 2006
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In another thread titled [url="http://www.seventypercent.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1016"]Countryfile Report – chocolate maker[/url], aguynamedrobert wrote:

“If you can find a bar that is a sinlge origin 100% made from criollo or trinitario it might have a chance for tasting somewhat ok…but most companies make a blend of flavorfull beans and “filler” beans to bring price down.”

I’d like to respond in detail to what Robert has implied in that statement.

First of all, Robert says that a 100% Criollo or Trinitario bar “might have a chance for tasting somewhat ok” — the implication being that a 100% Forestero bar has absolutely no chance of tasting even remotely OK.

I beg to differ.

My very small chocolate factory in Australia has recently released just such a bar — that is, a 100% Forastero bar. Our chocolate is coarsely refined, and not tempered at all, so it is not (yet) a “fine” chocolate by anyone’s standards. But its flavour is dynamite.

(Note to everybody: what follows could be regarded as shameless self-promotion. I apologise if this offends anyone, but I will go ahead anyway, because I think there are some very important points that need to be made about what makes “ok tasting” and “flavorfull” cocoa).

So, does our Forastero chocolate bar taste “OK”? Well, frankly, that depends entirely on who you ask, and under what circumstances.

When used for its intended purpose (which is cooking), our chocolate has received responses that range from simple pleasure, to rapturous delight. By far the most common word used by our customers to describe the aroma of our chocolate is “divine”.

For most of our customers (who have never tasted a 100% chocolate bar of any description), the flavour of our chocolate by itself is unpalatable, and too bitter. But about one in 20 people who know nothing about chocolate taste our bar and discover that they love eating it straight — in fact, prefer to eat it by itself than to cook with it. Obviously, this illustrates that people have different palates. In other words, what is pleasant to some, is unpleasant to others (welcome to “Chocolate Tasting 101″ :-)

Generally speaking, the more educated and well-informed a person is about chocolate, the more they enjoy our 100% Forastero bar.

Indeed, two fantastic fellow-members of seventypercent who are interested in our ethical-chocolate project have tasted our Forastero bar: one said that our bar is “more palatable than other 99% chocolate I’ve tried”; the other declared our bar “delicious”, and said that “The bar itself is among the best 3 100% I have ever tasted (I tasted 12 types of 100% from different producers up to now.)”

Frankly, I think these educated responses blow the idea that Forastero beans are inherently poor quality out of the water.

There are many factors that contribute to a chocolate’s palatability and flavour, and the genetics of the raw material is but one of them.

I have travelled across three continents tasting cocoa beans. By far the worst beans I ever tasted were Arriba beans in one part of Ecuador. They tasted so bad, and so incredibly astringent, that my automatic response was to spit. Why did they taste so bad? Simply because they’d been very poorly fermented and dried.

Finally, Robert refers to two types of cocoa beans. In his words, there are “flavorfull” beans, and “filler” beans. I have a real problem with this particular terminology, because it represents an insidious creep away from the accepted industry terms, which are: “fine” or “flavor” beans (for Criollo and Trinitario), and “bulk” beans (for Forastero).

Let me state explicitly: Forastero beans that have been skillfully grown, fermented, dried, and roasted, are full of wonderful flavours, most notably the inimitable flavour called “chocolate”. Such beans are undeniably “flavorfull”.

In the industry, Forasteros are known as “bulk” beans, and, indeed, they represent well over 90% of the world’s cocoa supply, so that term is entirely reasonable.

However, if some chocolate makers use Forastero beans as “fillers” for the sole reason of “bringing the price down”, then I would suggest that those people lack skill, imagination, and/or perseverance in sourcing and handling cocoa beans. It’s not fair to blame the entire Forastero genotype for these very human shortcomings.

Sam

November 19, 2006
2:11 am
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
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Wow I have never been more misrepresented in my life…I will try not to take it personally.
By saying what I said in the other post I was trying to explain in common terms what to expect from a 100% bar to a person that seemed to not know very much about chocolate. I think I did a good job but of course there are exceptions to what I said.
Yes Foraster’s can be good beans but have a tendency to be more bitter than the criollo and Trinitario and hence the reason I tried to point that person toward the two beans I mentioned. I could go on for hours explaining myself but would rather not further a debate that might make us say things that are rude or to defend ourselves. If you want to discuss this in a post without in a clam manner and in the mode of extending everyones knowldege of 100% bars and forastero beans I would be glad to because it looks like you do have some good knowledge to share.

-Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Robert

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
November 19, 2006
3:32 am
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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Robert – in what way can you claim to have been “misrepresented”? I believe that I quoted you precisely, and I included a link to the discussion in question for context.

The reasons that I moved this discussion to a new thread are:
a) the original thread had a title that doesn’t have any bearing on the subject I wanted to discuss, and
b) the original thread had turned into a discussion about Chinese television and Pralus — neither of which bear any relevance to the subject I wanted to discuss.

I am sorry if I’ve hurt your feelings, but I’m really not sure what you mean by this:

quote:


If you want to discuss this in a post without in a clam manner


??

Sam

November 21, 2006
9:58 am
Arne
Minden, Germany
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The first question is “What is forastero, criollo…?” For example there is the Nacional from Ecuador. Some call him a Forastero, some Criollo and some say it’s a 4. type between Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. The simplification Robert make at the other thread is good for beginners to have a guidline to good chocolate and that it what he want to say. But to decide if a 100% Foastero bar can taste good, we can only discuss the exact type of cocoa is used for the chocolate.

I think there are types of cocoa which are maybe a bit more forastero than criollo which can taste really good. But the chance to have a good tasting chocolate from a criollo is higher than from a forastero.

Arne

http://www.theobroma-cacao.de

www.theobroma-cacao.de
November 21, 2006
8:05 pm
confiseur
Switzerland
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October 14, 2005
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‘I think there are types of cocoa which are maybe a bit more forastero than criollo which can taste really good. But the chance to have a good tasting chocolate from a criollo is higher than from a forastero.’

..stating the obvious surely?…

November 21, 2006
11:33 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by Arne

The first question is “What is forastero, criollo…?” …

I think there are types of cocoa which are maybe a bit more forastero than criollo which can taste really good. But the chance to have a good tasting chocolate from a criollo is higher than from a forastero.


The basic problem here is that rather overly broad classifications have been taken in popular perception as absolute statements about the objective quality of some chocolate over another. As you point out, there is an aspect of how to define which beans fall into which category – and from a genetic standpoint it’s a very confused picture to be sure. Given that types can interbreed (as evidenced by Trinitarios) it’s unlikely that any one type can be unambiguously isolated. The situation is roughly analogous to the futility of trying to identify “race” in humans on anything more than qualitative terms, and trying to attribute relative qualities to types of cacaos is as prejudiced as trying to attribute “superiorities” to certain races of humans.

In fact, there is as much of a contribution in many ways from handling as from the bean itself. One can create a bad-tasting bar from a “Criollo” just as easily as from a “Forastero”. And different styles play better to different types of cacao.

When people refer to “Criollo” and “Forastero” in terms of quality and correlation, they’re really thinking about specific varietals and common practice, even though they may not realise it. For instance, Forastero typically is geared towards an understanding of the bulk-grade Ivory Coast and Ghana beans, while Criollo is more to do with quality beans from Venezuela. In the industry, the terms “fine flavour cacao” and “commodity grade cacao” is a better indicator, irrespective of “type”. So for instance the Ecuador Arriba is usually a fine flavour cacao, while certain Ocumare beans can be sorted as commodity grade.

One needs no further proof, I think, then to taste 2 very different chocolates. One is Guittard Chucuri – a Colombia Nacional (generally thought of as 100% Forastero) and one of the greatest chocolates in the world (which answers the original question in the theoretical positive, although as I say these distinctions are virtually meaningless). The other is Coppeneur Ocumare (Ocumare 61 in this case, usually thought of as Forastero) which (sorry Coppeneur, you really fumbled on this one) is really astonishingly bad – I’d put it on a level with Hershey’s Symphony.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 22, 2006
11:29 am
Arne
Minden, Germany
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Alex explained the problem much better than I can do with my poor english, sorry.

quote:


Originally posted by confiseur

‘I think there are types of cocoa which are maybe a bit more forastero than criollo which can taste really good. But the chance to have a good tasting chocolate from a criollo is higher than from a forastero.’
..stating the obvious surely?…


Bouga Cacao makes a good bar from Nacional Arriba in Ecuador. The Colombia Nacional, Alex talked about, is another example for good forastero chocolate.
But if you look at the most fine chocolates you find terms like “from criollo” or “trinitario” or in most places blends of them. No chocolate company would pay a higher price for “criollo” if they could make the same with a cheaper forastero.

And Alex is right, it’s possible to make bad chocolate from every bean.

http://www.theobroma-cacao.de

www.theobroma-cacao.de
November 22, 2006
9:01 pm
andypeeps
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November 13, 2006
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hey guys. just to let you know that i didn’t find out who the maker was in the end so sorry for the heated discussion! However I managed to buy something similar. It’s ‘El Tesoro’ 100%. I’m learning extremely fast about the ‘filler’ beans so does anyone know what bean this is made from? I’ve just tried some and i’m suprised that although bitter it wasn’t as bitter as i thought it would be. it also tastes pretty good with wine! is this common??

November 22, 2006
9:52 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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October 13, 2009
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quote:


Originally posted by Arne

Alex explained the problem much better than I can do with my poor english, sorry.

But if you look at the most fine chocolates you find terms like “from criollo” or “trinitario” or in most places blends of them. No chocolate company would pay a higher price for “criollo” if they could make the same with a cheaper forastero.


No, that’s not true either, because certain beans have certain particular flavour profiles and if a manufacturer wanted a particular type of taste for their style or that bar, they’d choose the beans that matched it. Same logic as, for instance, why some vineyards grow Cabernet Sauvignon and others Pinot Noir. So if the flavour you’re looking for happens to come in a bean that is designated “Criollo” then that’s what you’ll get.

Even more to the point, a high-quality Forastero will command similar prices anyway. As I said the industry is more pragmatic and realistic and adopts varietal-neutral terminology in setting prices – they can readily identify which are the quality beans regardless of type or origin and price accordingly.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 23, 2006
11:03 pm
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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December 12, 2005
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10

Well, I think it`s important to at least start to elucidate the factors underlying the question in the title of this thread. First most people think there are so much clear-cut things around chocolate like Forastero means bulk and so on. Real life with its amazing complexity comes a bit later-where again sometimes simple solutions can lead the way…and here my simple answer is definitely YES.
We are here again at the question of nature or nurture, aren`t we? And maybe contrary to wine, for chocolate nurture accounts for more than nature (I myself would put 66/33). (Again unfortunately in chocolate we cannot see the same historical tendencies as we could observe in the case of e.g. one of the world`s finest wine growing region, Bourgogne, related to terroir.)
But, to quote andypeeps, I am not surprised that a 100% goes well with wine. What did you drink then?
Myself I have not yet tried it but having read this tomorrow I will go to Lafayette Gourmet for a pairing.