Original Beans – Beni Wild Harvest
  • Our rating: 87.8% (3 reviews)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 66%
  • Guide Price: £6.00, €4.65, $10.00
  • Description by: Martin Christy
  • Production: Maker sourced beans, chocolate made elsewhere
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • Direct-trade wild cacao beans
    • cacao butter
    • cane sugar (certified organic)

Maucaraje and Baures Indian experts collect this 'origina bean' by tree trunk canoe on secluded "chocolates" or "cocoa islands," dating back to a pre-Colombian civilisation. Original Beans has been actively engaged in reviving the local cacao tradition and protecting the surviving sources of wild Beni cacao. Genetic research has shown that this cacao is a distinct, genetically independent variety.

The rainforest influences the flavour of this chocolate most vividly. You can taste the richness of the soil, the shade of neighbouring tree, and the diversity of wildlife.

Original Beans – Beni Wild Harvest—Chocolate Review Rating: 87.8% out of 100 based on 3 reviews.

Original Beans – Beni Wild Harvest

Reviews

Stuart Robson: 25-Apr-2011

Posted: April 25, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:

A wild Beni produced by Felchlin for Original Beans, but to a different recipe than is used with Felchlin’s own “Cru Sauvage”.  A little confusing perhaps but with a few less than inspiring re-moulds of Felchlin’s classic Bolivian on the market, this may be a good thing.

The bar is well finished and with a fairly light, medium brown colour and good shine. There is little to no swirling or bubbling and the snap is clean and crisp.  All is as would be expected from a highly refined and well-regarded producer.

The aroma really opens the show here, being rich and full bodied. Golden sugar and lightly roasted coffee sit alongside the richly honeyed fruit tones that I always think of being classically Beni; light plums, fig jam, some fresh strawberry and the faintest hint of papaya.  The balance of this heady mix of aromatics is unquestionable, as is the desire to taste.

Taken onto the palette it is, perhaps predictably, the sweet honey that comes to the fore, soon being joined by tropical fruit notes reminiscent of Pakistani mango, backed by a deep, pure chocolate.  In the mid palette the fig jam and plum found in the aroma resurface but are lent a level of freshness by a little strawberry and cream.  The finish takes a turn into rich mocha, tobacco leaf and malted toffee with just the faintest of tannins.  This is a sweetly fruity, honeyed profile then with a superbly balanced, well integrated range of flavours that are rich and intoxicating, while still calm and harmonious.

The melt is medium paced and flawlessly smooth but feels rather thick and cloying.  This is something I often associate with Felchlin and is not usually to my taste.  On this occasion however, set against such a lovely profile, it fails to distract with any great significance.

Original Beans are clearly doing some commendable work within the growing countries and twinned with a respected chocolate maker there is little doubt regarding the potential.  Here they have clearly lived up to that promise, having produced the finest take on Beni I have tasted.  The greatest success here is in drawing out a range of notes whilst leaving intact the richly chocolatey, honeyed tones that characterise these beautiful beans.

Alex Rast: 9-Feb-2011

Posted: February 9, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:

Another “wild” bean chocolate in the expanding category that have become popular ever since Felchlin introduced the concept with their amazing Cru Sauvage. If one is to be perfectly honest this bar is clearly from the same source, but still provides a distinctive “anchor” bar for a company with interesting ideas. But just as Cru Sauvage is, this bar is astonishingly exceptional, and gives a route to this source perhaps more accessible to the consumer than going through Felchlin. “Wild” chocolate could have become mostly a marketing concept with little substance in the form of chocolate quality to back it up, but here, it’s revealed to be really all one might come to expect.

Out of the box, the bar looks quite nice, even if it must be said that Cru Sauvage in its bar form was the incarnation of visual perfection. A characteristic light-brown colour shows good genes, and the moulding is equally reasonable – if some unevenness is apparent. But the aroma in this case trivialises the appearance, being simply awesome, with an unusual juxtaposition of brown sugar and redcurrant to start, a surprising hint of citrussy grapefruit reminiscent of a Madagascar, then a powerful mix of cedar and coffee bearing with it smooth tobacco highlights. It’s almost perfectly in balance and hits almost all the corners of the aroma spectrum in chocolate. One would almost think this were a blend.

The flavour surprises with completely different but equally noble sensations. First comes a distinctively sweet strawberry marshmallow, very similar to a Colombia Nacional, before proceeding to pure and unmistakeable chocolatey. Brown sugar and coffee then suggest a move to much darker territory, modulated a bit by nutty and creamy soft flavours, and then suddenly an unexpected hit of redcurrant completely relieves the heaviness and makes for a refreshing finish. Yet again the balance is unbelievable.

The only problem with this bar is the texture which is poor – dry and of merely average smoothness, athough this is possibly a style choice. Nonetheless problems must be pointed out in a bar that has so few. One would probably expect a wild food, of almost any type, to be more complex than its cultivar companions, given a probably more mixed genestock and certainly a more variable environment. Beni bears this expectation out in force. But here wild doesn’t mean unruly; it rather means untampered. This bar may bear out the “Original Beans” moniker – it might be the closest thing to the original cocoa that we will try.

Martin Christy: 30-Jan-2011

Posted: January 30, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:

A thin bar in an attractive mould with a ‘starburst’ design, each piece elegantly curved, giving some thickness on eating. Snap is a thick click.

Very lightly coloured, could be easily mistaken for a milk bar to the casual sampler.

The aroma is thick fruit, honey, tobacco, blueberry and strawberry jams. There’s the slightest hint of musty, acidic vinegar, but this is not too troubling.

Instantly alive on the tongue with strong molasses, followed by yellow fruits, floral honey, rising up steeply into strong blackberry jam and rum. Chewing brings out some butter, followed at the end again by molasses. Quite a journey. Length is mild toffee, yellow fruit, lightly tannins and developing back up again into a pleasant sweetness/treacle.

Very well made, as is to be expected from Felchlin. Melt is good, arguably a little glutinous, but this is not a problem at all as the flavour is delivered so well.

Definitive of the Bolivian Beni notes and easily the best of the Beni chocolates, and for me the best of the current Original Beans range. A huge improvement on the last Original Beans batch of Beni, and any of the other Beni Savi / Cru Savage chocolates also made by Felchlin.

The flavour profile is quite similar to the Bojesen Wild Bolivian, but Original Beans just pips it because of manufacturing quality (but then the Bojesen is still in development).

Either way, a huge move forward for Bolivia and Original Beans.

7 Comments

  1. Geert Vercruysse January 31, 2011

    I like thise review Martin,
    its a great pleasure to sell this unique chocolate.
    Felchlin indeed take care and attention into the proper roasting times and temperatures of each bean type.
    Still, some times I have to say I have a problem with to long conching of there chocolates, since I visit last year.
    Thanks for sharing this review,
    Geert

  2. Geert Vercruysse February 10, 2011

    About,
    Beni Wild last year was 68% & 60h conche, and the new batch is 66% & 24h conche, indeed by Felchlin.
    I was curious about this changing and now I heard they used a different conching method, from long conching (by friction) to roundconching (extern heating), can you explain me why and if it could be to keep the fruity accents in the chocolate?
    Yesterday I saw Francisco Javier Gomez (Casa Luker Colombia) and he did agreed to long conching is not conductive for the taste.
    Thanks for your reaction.
    Geert

  3. cal March 22, 2011

    Are this bar and Felchlin’s Cru Sauvage not one and the same?

  4. Martin Christy March 22, 2011

    Cal, not exactly. The cacao is Beni Savi, and the chocolate made by Felchlin, but Philipp Kauffmann of Original Beans told us that this is made to his own recipe, which he worked on with Felchlin. It’s not the standard couverture available to order.

    Any doubts about that can be set aside by tasting – the chocolate is distinctly richer than other ‘Cru Savage’ bars, and personally the best Bolivian I’ve tasted. (Flavour-wise on a par with the Bojesen, but the refining is bettter.)

  5. cal March 23, 2011

    Thank you, Martin, for clarifying that!
    Why haven’t you reviewed Bojesen, then? I would love to read your take on that bar, too.
    Can I take this opportunity and ask if you have any plans to relaunch the old online shop, or is that chapter now closed?
    Thanks again.

  6. Martin Christy March 23, 2011

    Hi Cal,

    I think some of the reviewers have the Bojesen bar and it’s in their queue, possibly mine as well, I have to check! (I keep meaning to write up a list of intended reviews … lists of lists – if only there was more time!)

    We wont be running our own shop again, but our plan is to work more closely with Chocolate & Love to help develop their range and provide links from our reviews. We’ve already helped them pick up a few more key brands, which should be coming in the near future. That way we can take a small affiliate commission that will help support Seventypercent.com. Our own operation didn’t make any money and just sucked up a lot of time and effort. Either we were bad at business or too early in the market, or both! We decided to stick to what we think we’re good at.

    cheers.

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