It’s Saint Patrick’s Day today in the United States and what better a day to taste a handmade Irish chocolate bar!
Bean and Goose Chocolateis a sister-owned craft chocolate operation in Wexford, Ireland. Heeding a barista’s recommendation, the “Single Origin Irish Sea Salt and Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa 76%,” was purchased. Would pure chocolatier craftmanship and a touch of Irish luck make this bar a winner?
The Bean and Goose bars’ packaging (seen also on other selections), is somewhat minimalist, with one washed color and bright white lettering (see picture above). The Irish Sea Salt and Cocoa Nibs bar has a grey paper package, and upon turning over, reveals a white sticker with further information regarding the brand: “We are Karen and Natalie Keane, sisters and premium chocolate makers based in the Wexford countryside… We create chocolate that reflects contemporary Ireland, its flavours, its colours and its people.” Never having traveled to Ireland, this concept seemed exciting. What flavors would reveal themselves?
A dear friend and sailorwoman recently navigated through the Caribbean and stopped on the island of Grenada. A gorgeous island located near St. Lucia, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, Time Cupsoul looked up pictures of the stunning oasis and followed the friends’ adventures via reading articles online. Among other attractions, a key discovery was made: Grenada has cocoa trees, and The Grenada Chocolate Companyis an award-winning bean-to-bar maker on the island. After a few short weeks, the “Organic Dark Chocolate Nib-A-Licious 60%” bar arrived at the Time Cupsoul doorstep, direct from the Caribbean Sea.
It’s another East Coast chocolate bar up for review today: Taza Chocolate, based out of Somerville, Massachusetts. This chocolate bar is very unique in its circular shape and texture. The bar is “stone ground,” meaning that the cocoa beans are “unrefined” and “minimally processed,” according to the labeling on the package.
In Time Cupsoul’s most recent chocolate bar review (found here), tasting of an East Coast bar was promised next… The lucky winner: Nathan Miller Chocolate.
Nathan Miller Chocolate received a recent nod of approval from thisNew York Times (NYT) article listing the best tasting bean-to-bar chocolate from the United States. The Nathan Miller bar chosen for the NYT article was the 72 percent Peru. Ceremony Coffee Roastery & Espresso Bar (Time Cupsoul review here) provided another vintage: Nathan Miller Pretzel & Cherry.
The false traceability scandal at Mast Brothers Chocolate (summary here) recently turned a spotlight onto other United States chocolate makers. It is safe to say that Europe is cocoa’s “hub” in terms of (chocolate) bar-making history and manufacturer legacy. Yet, the USA has numerous large chocolate companies, and furthermore, birthed many specialty and smaller “craft” chocolate makers besides Mast Brothers within the past decade or two. Time Cupsoul sets out to explore the best of American chocolate in the coming weeks.
One place to find unique chocolate bars of all origins (bean and brand), is at specialty food stores, such as Fresh Market, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. These store types each carry different selections of chocolate and sometimes, their own brand of bars.