The World's finest Chocolate starts with the
World's finest beans. Bit like wine and grapes.
Single malt whisky, fine wine, craft beer, coffee, premium olive oils and artisan chocolate all carry a signature flavor. With craft chocolate, the unique flavour notes originate in the cacao bean. Wine grapes, hops, olives etc differ by type, region, soil, weather and processing methods; this is the same for cacao beans from differing strains of cacao trees. More about this later. Like the grape, the bean's individual character is effected by climate, soil, fermentation technique and drying conditions.
Our unique process further refines that character: different craft chocolatemakers working with the same bean can create very different results. We could build Solkiki around different treatments of a single heirloom bean, such is the creative power of a good craft chocolatemaker with great ingredients. Fine flavour craft chocolate is the pinnacle of connoisseurism; fine flavour chocolate exhibits more than double the flavour notes that good coffee does, and quadruple that of fine wine.
Alongside whisky and cigar education, wine waiters or sommeliers (Somms) study in great detail a wine's taste, smell and appearance to identify its grape, region, producer and year. With practice, fine flavour chocolate lovers can learn to identify country of origin, cacao type, even processing methods and whether a chocolate comprises beans from a single estate or blends.
A chocolatemaker can have such a powerful effect on flavour - and there are so many varieties of fine cacao - that identifying genetics, cultivar and origin from flavour alone is often difficult. A Sur Del Lago can be easy to spot, but fine cacao is typically very complex. As chocolatemakers, Solkiki can make many different tasting bars of chocolate from a single good bean, based on how we sort, crack, winnow, roast, grind and conch it. Couple this creativity with variations in climate and the farmer's influence on favour during harvest, fermentation and drying and fine cacao quickly gets deeply complex.
While the bean really is the star of the show and not all beans are created equal. There are many main types of cacao bean, with near limitless expressions of each type (the best become cultivars) under each tree.
The most prized, delicate and complex beans are in shortest supply.
By supporting craft chocolate, you are helping to prevent industrial cacao consuming the other types. You are also helping to save unique cocoa beans from extinction, you help local rural communities, often in developing countries, you ensure wages and futures for the farmers and their families, you save parts of rainforests being chopped down for monocrop agriculture or other purposes and you support sustainable farming - in return you taste the true Food of the Gods!
The fine cacao industry is nascent and still working hard to understand how to commonly classify the many different types of chocolate tree growing around the world. Amelonado, Grandiflorum, Amazon, Beniano, Bicolour, Guiana, Contamana... these are some other primary strains of cacao that can now be reliably reproduced carrying forwards an identical genetic pattern between generations. A favourable ratio of theobromine to caffiene and a high content of free amino acids are further markers used to determine a fine flavour strain.
It's easy to overlook the importance of excellent cocoa butter in the making of fine chocolates, but we use the tastiest & purest available. Constituting between 45-60% of the bean, the butter has subtle favours and rich aromas which vary in the same way as the cacao. Our precious butter - like our salt, vanilla and other ingredients - is sourced with the same rigourous standard as our beans. It strengthens your immune system, slows the aging process, helps lower blood pressure, prevents arthritis, is essential for strong brain function, counters depression and even reduces your wrinkles! In moderation, natural cacao butter rocks.
The Pure Nacional bean was considered exctint for the previous century... only to be rediscovered in 2011 growing at twice the usual altitude in the remote Marañón river canyon of Peru. In Fortunato No.4, we see these rare white beans with rich savoury flavors co-exist with sweet floral-fruity purple beans within the same cacao pods. This rare cacao has been genetically verified by the USDA as Pure Nacional. The vertiginous Marañón canyon walls create a unique micro-climate where Theobroma Cacao thrives at over 3,500 feet above sea level, some of the highest altitudes ever reported. Once harvested, this naturally-grown cacao is transported by bike or donkey from remote farms to a single facility dedicated to fermenting and drying this truly unique crop. Chocolate made from this exclusive cacao has intense flavors with a floral aroma, persistent mellow richness and a remarkable lack of bitterness. Check out our treatment of Fortunato No.4 in our Shop.
To us, it seems easier and more rewarding to taste at least 2 different chocolates in the same session. We often taste a lot of choclate in a short space of time and it becomes a real challenge to maintain your sense perception. Don't worry about % or bitterness, aim for contrasting flavours - these sensorial differences will trigger different taste buds and you'll be better placed to appreciate the character of each chocolate.
There are amazing flavours and textures in chocolate that you might otherwise miss. In chocolate-making, every step is important for the final flavour. Soil, weather, fermentation, roasting, grinding and more all influence the outcome. Even the size of the cocoa bean can have an impact on our unique process and the final taste. Every batch will also have subtle differences, even if you have had the same chocolate before, so it is worth it taking your time and making the most of your tasting experience.
There are different - equally fun - ways to eat our chocolate:
1. Scoff it all down in one sitting and enjoy the roaring energy surging through your brain and body. You might feel a tickle behind the centre of your forehead; do not be alarmed, this is your pineal gland; the third eye waking up and your increased vitality, perception and energy is perfectly normal. Food of the Gods sounds about right!
2. Share it with friends, showing-off your knowledge and newfound taste in handcrafted fine chocolate. Be the embassador for real chocolate. Give them something that redefines their understanding of the World. Its great fun to see the lights come on. Take some nice supermarket chocolate with you to demonstrate the gulf between these products, and blow their minds.
3. Take your time to appreciate our hard work and Mother Nature's brilliance:
Find a place free of distractions and smells.
Drop your phone. Turn on your senses.
Have a glass of warm water, pieces of cracker or bread handy to clean your palate in between tastings.
Open the wrapper of the bar and smell. There is a lot of information in the bar's aroma.
Resist the temptation and look at the chocolate. Is it glossy? This is a sign of a well tempered bar and will give you the optimum tasting experience.
Snap a piece of chocolate from the bar. It should make a clear snapping sound, this is also a sign of a chocolate bar with a good temper.
Breaking the bar will release more smells from the bar so bring the piece to your nose, close your eyes and you might already be able to detect the exotic a aromas from faraway tropics. Rub a little area of the bar between thumb and forefinger to warm it up and release some aroma.
The perception of flavour is driven by smell moreso than taste, so use your nose!
Place the chocolate piece on your tongue and the most important thing here is to not chew!
Chocolate's melting temperature is just above body temperature, so it will begin to melt slowly.
As the chocolate melts it will start to release flavours. Some chocolate will have a few identifiable flavour notes, but some chocolate will take you on a real journey. You might be able to pick up fruity or nutty notes, maybe floral, spicy or earthy ones, perhaps specific flavours like cherry, jasmin, honey, toast, even mushrooms!
The more you taste chocolate, the more flavours you'll be able to pick up and the more precise you will become in identifying the flavour notes.
The texture of the chocolate is also important, is it grainy or smooth? The longer the chocolate has been ground the finer it will be.
Does the chocolate feel fatty on your tongue? That means a lot of cocoa butter has been added to the chocolate.
Look for the finish of the chocolate. A good chocolate can leave a lasting flavour in your mouth for a while after it has melted. This is also why you only need a small piece of chocolate every time you taste to get the full experience.
Look out for early, middle, finishing and after taste as the flavours will overlap and evolve.
Go back and forth between bars and allow your senses a few minutes to appreciate each one. Great fun! And remember: In taste, everyone is right!
Superfood of the Gods
The cacao bean is one of nature's most super of superfoods due to its very high mineral content and wide range of unique and varied properties.
Our chocolate - especially the unroasted - effects bloodflow to the brain, and many other physical systems positively.
It can lower cholesterol levels, prevent cognitive decline, reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems,
lower the risk of stroke, improve mood, stabilize temperament and improve circulation and libido.
Best food source of magnesium on the planet,
Yep, our chocolate is good for your teeth = it helps remineralise & inhibits plaque growth
Highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world
After eating our chocolate, saliva rich in antioxidants slows the growth of plaque
Exceptionally rich in:
Biologically active phenolic compounds
Anandamide (the 'joyful-delight' chemical)
Omega-6 fatty acids
Mayan godess of /Cacao
In the foothills of the Andes, magic is afoot.
Artisan chocolate awaits you
This bean redefines the notion of a good cut test! A thing to behold