There is chocolate … and then there is chocolate. Comparing in no way to those ordinary drugstore bars, a few select manufacturers, excuse me … artisans (a rightfully deserved title), craft the purest, deepest, darkest chocolate into bars that easily warrant the title of ‘premium.’ Amano ranks among this select group of artisans, and I was honored when three of their dark chocolate bars arrived in a beautiful package on my doorstep.
Honestly, I have always been a simple chocolate nibbler, giving bars the thumbs up or thumbs down, with no real tasting notes or rankings. However, Amano prompted me to really taste the difference. Oddly enough, I didn’t even visit the Amano website or read the labels on the bars until after I sat down and wrote all of the commentary below. I was amazingly impressed with how my experience as an amateur cacao taster matched up to their writing. If that isn’t handcrafted to perfection, then I don’t know what is!
All three of their dark chocolate bars were 70% cacao (minimum), so I expected them all to taste pretty much the same. Oh how wrong I was. From the first bite I could truly taste what single origin meant. Each bar with its own nuances, fruity, smoky, bold, soft … I suddenly felt as though I was wine tasting. In fact, I was compelled to write down my tasting notes:
Madagascar (Premium Dark Chocolate) ~ The taste was solid and very mellow at first, not too bitter, and not too sweet … but then a sweet and tangy fruit taste emerged that reminded me of raw cocoa pulp. Suddenly I found the Madagascar deliciously addictive. Barely a hint of bitter dark graced this not too sweet and just slightly tart, fruity dark. Had I been left to my own devices, I could have easily devoured the whole bar in minutes. It went down far too easy, but I did my best to savor each bite!
Cuyagua (Premium Dark Chocolate, Limited Edition) ~ The Cuyagua started out soft and smooth, almost like milk chocolate. The mellow backdrop gradually gave way, but this time it wasn’t the essence of fruit that emerged. A slightly smoky flavor that reminded me a bit of roasted coffee (but without a distinct coffee flavor) crept onto my taste buds. I enjoyed the light sweetness, which was tempered just a bit by the roasted coffee notes.
Ocumare (Grand Cru Dark Chocolate) ~ Slightly sharper than the other two, this dark had hints of sweet, bittersweet, and fruity. Overall, I found the Ocumare to have a more pronounced or bold flavor, but I had trouble detecting the origins, as it was a truly unique blend that my tastes were somewhat indifferent too. The overall feel was smooth, melting on my tongue with ease. [I later read Amano’s labeling which identified the influences on this bar to be floral, definitely a foreign taste to my palate].
Amazing quality! I could literally taste the purity. I think the Madagascar capture my taste buds most overall, as the aftertaste and more pronounced notes in the Ocumare didn’t suit my palate quite as perfectly. The Cuyagua was excellent, but it lacked the intrigue that the fruity one brought to the table. Nonetheless, the Cuyagua would easily slide into second place. But don’t take my word for it. Have your own cacao tasting with Amano’s single origin chocolate bars!
Amano Dark Chocolate Ingredients: Cocoa beans, Pure cane sugar, Cocoa butter, Whole Tahitian vanilla beans.