There was a time when the words “Bean To Bar” would elicit real excitement because it was kind of unusual. It wasn’t that chocolate was not being made that way, but it hadn’t yet become linked with what was thought of as quality chocolate. These days though, the term is perhaps getting rather ubiquitous and trendy, and I’m getting to the point where I try to tune it out and simply sample each chocolate on its own merits.
That said, I was a little bit excited to see an unfamiliar name on the shelves at a local shop which did proudly declare that it was Bean-To-Bar from Madagascar because island is definitely one of the more reliable chocolate locations in the world.
Madécasse are not only getting their beans from that island paradise, they are also making the chocolate over there. But they are also going above and beyond the usual Fair Trade thing by working with the farmers and conserving the habitat too – basically, the entire process from harvesting to wrapping the completed bars happens over there. So there’s a lot that is admirable about what Madécasse are doing.
They are good looking bars of chocolate. The packaging has a bit of quaintness to it, in the best possible way, right down to it being tied at the top with a little bit of straw. The bar has a decent sheen, but the texture might be a little too grainy for some people. Personally I liked the slight graininess of it because it helps to instill that whole bean to bar element.
And the taste? This is one of the most unusual bars I’ve eaten in a long time simply because I keep changing my mind about how I feel about it. Initially I found it far too sweet – it comes in at a respectable 63% – and thought the spices were too aggressive. But when I came back to it again, I was a lot more taken with the mix of heat and sweetness that comes from the cinnamon. And back and forth a few more times.
This was definitely a bar which benefitted from nibbling rather than eating – sticking with smaller amounts prevented it from getting overwhelming. At its best, the slow build up of heat and earthiness made for a great combination, but at its worst the underlying fruitiness is dominated by all that spice. It certainly isn’t dull and I keep going back to it which must mean something.
Madécasse are definitely on my radar now though and I will be picking up some of their other bars next time I go shopping.