Review: Republica Del Cacao – Comunidad Vinces 75% (***)

The good thing about inspiring people with fine chocolate, is that they can surprise you in unexpected ways. A lady who attended one of my tastings is active in the import/export business and when she went on a trip to South America recently, she brought back some fine chocolate she decided to share with me. This way I received a partial bar by Republica Del Cacao from the Vinces Community in Ecuador.

The company has set the goal of putting Latin American chocolate back on the world map by creating fine chocolate from regionally grown cacao, produced into chocolate in their Quito factory in Ecuador. By putting sustainability, traceability and tradition high on their list of attention, their wide array of origin bars ride the wave of fine chocolate makers around the globe. By combining local quality cacao with European knowledge in chocolate making, they might be on to something.

The Vinces community produces Arriba cacao – One of the only Forastero cacao varieties which can be labeled as fino di aroma cacao. Forastero typically is a bean used for industrial bulk chocolate, but Arriba has a much more refined taste – allowing chocolate makers to make wonderful bars based on this cacao.

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The package is filled to the brim with information, stating about the company’s mission and why this bar we are holding is special compared to classic chocolate bars. The logo clearly gives it a traditional look.

Inside, the bar is made out of pretty large square pieces of chocolate, perfectly embossed with the type of cacao and the origin. Novel idea. The design fits superbly with the sleeve and makes it look good. The chocolate itself is super dark in color and hits the senses with a delicate floral aroma.

Bean: Arriba (Forastero)
Origin: Vinces Community – Ecuador
Production: Confiteca CA – Quito, Ecuador
Price paid: gift – 100g – received from a friend

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Color: Dark, dark brown – almost black.

Aroma: Floral notes, hints of tobacco and wood.

Taste: A quick, earthy and sweet start with hints of vanilla and delicate flower notes (jasmin like) combined with a touch of brown sugar. Next comes a gentle coffee bitterness and touches of tannins giving it a bit more power. The melt is super quick and smooth, but not clingy at all. Yet I feel as if a bit too much cacao butter has been used, mellowing down the taste profile. Overall the taste is harmonious, but less pronounced than other chocolate bars around. The aftertaste is very subtle, offering a very deep chocolate flavor, but remains very gentle – after quiet a while you notice some nice smoked wood and chocolate aromas lingering on. This is a very enjoyable chocolate, quiet different from the bars I tasted before. It is gentle in nature, but grows on you as you savor on.

Maybe the European style of chocolate making is what holds it back a little. I can sense a big potential in the bar, but going for the silky texture may inhibit the delicate aroma’s of the cacao to come forth. I wonder how this bar would taste if Republica Del Cacao chose a more “American” artisan style to create the bar. A bit rougher around the edges perhaps, but possibly also more intriguing taste wise.

You can safely introduce any unknowing person into the world of fine chocolate with bars like this one. A perfect place to start your exploration of a wonderful world of taste!


Review: Mayta Chocolate – 71% Arriba (****)

It has been a while since I reviewed any chocolates. A burned tongue was the evildoer. It simply eradicated a part of my taste, making everything very dull on the palate. Not your ideal way to taste the delicate flavours in a product like chocolate. Luckily everything healed by now, but it makes you appreciate the sense of taste you have and the difference it makes once it is gone.

Anyway, lets focus on the task, or should I say privileged ahead. During the Origin Chocolate event, I had a great chat with the people of the promotional stand of Ecuador. Not only did they bring the illusive Pacari products, but they handed me a bar of Mayta chocolate. A brand I hadn’t heard of until then. Always a treat to taste something new.

Mayta is an Ecuadorian brand, using national grown cacao to make gourmet chocolate bars, bean-to-bar. This particular bar was made with Arriba (Nacional) beans from the Esmeraldas, grown deep within the coastal plains of Ecuador.


The bar comes in a rather nice looking square box. The imprint unmistakably puts it in the South-American territory, as it uses an Inca style mask. Clean and simple text provide you with all the details needed. The chocolate itself is wrapped in a cellophane blister, wich certainly does the protecting part, but was a bit of a hassle to open and makes it pretty impossible to rewrap the bar afterwards. Guess I’ll have to enjoy this chocolate within a short period.

Bean: Arriba
Origin: Ecuador
Production: Mayta chocolates, Ecuador
Price paid: Unknown, given to me during the origin chocolate event 2013 – Amsterdam

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Colour: obviously dark ebony with a red/purple hint.

Aroma: This chocolate doesn’t produce a particular strong aroma. Some nice green cacao smells are present, slightly acidic and a hint of woody aromas were detected.

Taste: The bar starts gently with a brief burst of raw cacao followed by lots and lots of deep chocolate. It melts nice and slow and has a very smooth texture, releasing more waves of chocolate, before a subtle sweetness brings delicate dried yellow fruit aromas to the palate. The taste is very harmonic as no elements comes forth strong and overwhelming, they rather mix and mingle to produce a very satisfying chocolate experience. At the very end of the melt, one suddenly notices some tannins adding more depth to the overall taste. The aftertaste lasts just long enough to prolong the enjoyment and brings a slight bitter and woody touch as the last crumbs of chocolate melt on the tongue.
A gentle, but high quality chocolate delight, this bar is to be enjoyed pure while paying attention to all the aromas it provides. Another great chocolate I was privileged to taste.