To make sure that I have a fair look at the Original Beans Cru Virunga, I’ve been sent a second bar, along with the two other bars in the Original Beans range. Tearing open the new Cru Virunga, I was most happy to see what its shape looks like. Twelve long fingers of dark chocolate that are perfect for snapping in half. And the chocolate does come off better in its intended, unmelted state. It’s striking me more as an indulgent chocolate this time. I mentioned the sweetness; now it seems to be saying, indulge and let your chocolate be as sweet as you want — it can still be quality.
The Beni Wild Harvest, a 68% and 60 hour conch (the Cru Virunga is 20) with Bolivian cacao, fascinated me. The beans used grow on “chocolate islands” where they’re gathered by canoe and are “so small in size that they require specially modified roasters.” Its flavor notes are “cognac, raisins, honeyed black tea.” Its scent and initial hit reminded me of seeds. Thick dried fruits come in, making it much like a Fruit and Nut bar without the fruit and nut. Amazing to remember that there are only cacao beans, sugar, and cacao butter in it. A lovely deep liquid chocolate taste finishes it off, strong yet fluid like gently pouring water. Like the other bar, the texture is so smooth. No grains, no hardness — it’s like liquid glass. A singular chocolate.
The more chocolate I eat, the more I realize that great as dark chocolate is, I really love a good milk chocolate. The Esmeraldas Milk is a 42%, 50 hour conch with Ecuadorian beans that doesn’t disappoint the highest expectations. To begin with, it’s a beautiful dark coffee color with a slight reddish tone. Flavor notes are “buttered caramel, hint of sea salt, tobacco flowers.” Expanding on the dark chocolates’ smoothness, the milk IS SO SOFT. Such a buttery feel, it’s like holding a flower in your mouth. The caramel taste is delicate, mixed with rich cocoa butter. I was so wrapped up at first that I forgot it has fleur de sel in it, as well. It’s a small touch, but enough to add a little twist and texture to the flavor. A positively amazing chocolate. It takes the best parts of a sweet milk chocolate and a flavorful dark chocolate. Chocolates who hit this line almost need their own category. The single thing wrong with this bar is that it’s disappearing too fast.
It seems that Original Beans was having trouble with the lot number feature when I tried it; the problem is fixed now, and I was able to look at a different planting project for each bar. Loved seeing pictures of cacao trees at different stages of growth, as well as getting the reminder that Original Beans works hard for both the earth and the people in it. I’m convinced now that their chocolates are equal to their motives. And you know, $15 doesn’t seem like too much for the Esmeraldas Milk and Beni Wild Harvest even without the cause: I’m finding them fitting to my style more than the Cru Virunga. I’m considering calling the Esmeraldas my favorite of the three. I’m also glad to see that Original Beans has a voice and continuity going through their chocolates, while still giving them differing flavors for the differing person.