One of my more adventurous friends went to Ecuador for her vacation and while I’d like to think it was in order to pick up some chocolate direct from the source, I suspect that was simply an incidental benefit to the trip. I was just happy to get a couple of more unusual bars. I’ve never seen any Republica Del Cacao bars in Canada before, so I was coming in blind. But from what I could see on the outside, it was hitting all the right buttons – it was a single origin bar, it was organic and was made in Ecuador.
The packaging is lovely. It has a rustic feel to it, with its spidery script and monochrome illustrations and has a lot of information inside about where the chocolate comes from. There’s even a little Certificate of Authenticity that states the bar is made with 100% Arriba Cacao from Ecuador – I’m not sure it would stand up in a court of law, but it is a nice touch. I must admit that by the time I’d perused the whole package, I was actually genuinely excited to taste the chocolate. And it really didn’t disappoint.
This is an 85% bar, and it both tastes and looks like it too. It starts off bitter and stays that way, never getting anywhere close to sweet. The notes are woody with hints of tobacco and leather, and hardly any room for fruitiness. There’s a lot of depth hidden in the richness, but it is very easy to get completely overwhelmed by the powerful flavour which starts strong and takes a long time to fade away. Or to put in another way, the best way to approach this one is with small, infrequent nibbles. It’s bold and unapologetic about it, and definitely not for everyone. Personally, I loved it but I can understand why some might find it a bit on the harsh side.