• Our rating: 80.8% (1 review)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 70%
  • Guide Price:
  • Description by: Alex Rast
  • Production: Maker sourced beans, chocolate made elsewhere
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin

An extraordinary balance of red berries, raisin and chocolate. Deep notes of cocoa and a clean acidity unite in a unique experience.

Cacao Sampaka – Xoconusco—Chocolate Review Rating: 80.8% out of 100 based on 1 reviews.

Cacao Sampaka – Xoconusco

Along with La Joya, at the top of Sampaka’s range of dark chocolates, this one being billed as “royal Criollo”. Once again, this sounds like a marketing term perhaps signifying nothing, but it does at least seem likely this is an original and exclusive source, so a chocolate worth trying anyway. Sampaka seem to have zeroed in on Mexican sources for their top-end beans, presumably due to better local contacts. It must be said that Mexican cacao, to judge by results from other manufacturers, seems to be decidedly hit-and-miss, so if Sampaka are developing a fine cocoa industry in Mexico, they deserve a lot of credit. Nonetheless, this isn’t the first chocolate labelled similarly; Askinosie’s Soconusco is clearly referring to the same area, if not the same bean (they call it a Trinitario). However, even if it’s identical, the wildly divergent styles of the 2 manufacturers means Sampaka has something to offer.


Alex Rast: 13-Oct-2010

Posted: October 13, 2010 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
Best before:
Batch num:
Supplied by:

The second of Sampaka’s top-end offerings, again from a Mexican source. Without doubt this bar along with its La Joya stablemate are easily the best Sampaka chocolates. How much is this saying? Well, this is a very achieved and refined chocolate, well within the scope of a top-end bar, but perhaps not in the very top flight. If there is a problem it can be said to be overprocessing; the bar has an “industrial” feel to it, not, perhaps, a total shock given probable Chocovic origins. In most respects these are quibbles, but for a bar positioned (and priced) in an elite category, one expects more. What you get here is a perfectly fine everyday quality chocolate clothed in the fashions of a super-exclusive.

While the hermetic seal on the package is jarring, it does at least allow visual inspection of the chocolate even before taking it out, which, once done, demonstrates a fine medium-brown colour and superb finish. Sampaka’s method of splitting the bar into two thin slabs comes as an unexpected surprise; it does make it possibly to eat a realistic amount at a time. The aroma displays a nice rich pungency, although its characteristics are a bit generic: woody and currant, with a hint of cayenne to add interest. A more disturbing biscuitty aroma, however, emerges, often an indicator of overaggressive roasting. Good but not perfect.

The flavour starts out promisingly, with very powerful blackberry and currant fruity components taking centre stage. However, from there begins a downhill slide, first into creamy, then into increasingly flat hazelnut and cocoa. All the interest is in the first few seconds, after which it rapidly becomes tedious. A bit of tropical/mango mixed with a vanilla-like hint (even though there’s no vanilla per se in the chocolate prevent it from becoming entirely dull, but nonetheless the feeling is of a bar with no stamina.

Melt doesn’t quite conform to the visual expectation; although very creamy it is only average in smoothness, in many ways a sort of textural summary of the subjective experience of the taste: good, but nothing exciting. When it does come to that flavour, one must suspect the roast. It seems too heavy, and appears to have stripped too many of the bean’s characteristics away. This is a shame; from what there is it seems as though the source really does have many fine qualities. What this is exhibits is that stylistically, there are horses for courses: the Chocovic style, while it works well for less-distinguished origins, is the wrong choice. It feels like a balanced, refined style similar to Cluizel would be best. Nothing here can be inferred as an absolute criticism of the bar; by any standard, it’s very good. But oh, how it might have been better…

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