Christmas is coming up, and I have been thinking about what to buy my parents and other relatives. While probing the web for ideas, I came across the North American arm of a fine chocolate maker based out of Germany called Coppeneur.
Before I give some of this stuff away I decided I might as well try it myself. I ordered a handful of different treats from their online store in order to get a sense of what they had to offer, and I referred to a chocolate tasting guide from Seventypercent.com for a chocolate-tasting how-to.
Armed with my new knowledge of the six categories of chocolate tasting, I present to you my first ever review of a dark chocolate. This one in particular is Coppeneur’s Trinidad 72% with Habanero and Lavender. I opened up the package to discover it comes with a nice little book on the company’s history and product lines. Unfortunately it was all in German and I was unable to translate. Still, it shows the maker cares a lot about the presentation – and you can see that throughout the packaging, from the silver wax seal to the graphic imprint on the chocolate itself.
The first test is the smell of the chocolate itself. My initial impression is that it’s incredibly fresh, as the smell of the peppers mixed with the chocolate is potent but not overwhelming. This is what I imagine an equatorial plantation smells like.
Next we test how it looks and how it breaks apart. According to Seventypercent, good chocolates are a more reddish hue than black, indicating finer quality cocoa beans were used in the production of the chocolate. And that’s exactly what it looks like here. The chocolate has a nice brownish red colour with a clean snap, indicative of good production. No air bubbles here!
Enough fooling around with this whole smelling it and looking at it business – let’s bite into this sucker already. Taste has the most weight when rating a chocolate, and rightly so – why else would you eat it if not for the taste?
On initial placement on the tongue the chocolate bursts with strong flavours of the Habanero pepper and coffee beans with lighter touches of the lavender mixing in. It melts slowly and the spice of the pepper remains constant, while the richness of the cocoa bean shines through. Overall, it’s a really nice flavour with just the right amount of spicy kick from the pepper. It’s neither too sweet (an indicator that the makers are masking poor quality ingredients with too much sugar) nor too bitter. My basis for comparison is close to nil, but I have to say it was a taste sensation unlike any other chocolate I’ve tried.
“One of the reasons chocolate is so pleasant is that cocoa butter melts very close to body temperature,” says Seventypercent. That means it shouldn’t be cloying or sticky when it melts. From my experience tasting just now, I can tell you that this one performs quite well – it melts smooth on the tongue and doesn’t break into chunks, it just liquefies in a pleasing manner.
The length of a chocolate refers to how long the aftertaste lingers once the chocolate is eaten. Since this one had a particularly spicy bent, the aftertaste lingers for quite some time and reveals the strength of the
Habanero along with the purity of the chocolate. At 72 per cent cocoa, the chocolate is on the high end of the scale – Seventypercent says it won’t review any with less than 55 per cent and recommends chocolates with 60 per cent and higher cocoa content.
Finally, there’s a category for the chocolate taster’s overall impression of the chocolate, taking all the previously reviewed factors into account.
I have to say, as a novice chocolate taster, I found the 72% Habanero & Lavender from Coppeneur delightful. The spiciness was a surprise, but certainly a pleasant one. What was really remarkable about the chocolate was its fresh aroma and taste, indicated by the strong flavours and lasting aftertaste. And the crowning touch for me was the attention to detail in the packaging and presentation of the bar.