I truly feel bad about this. I got this unique bar while on vacation, so I kept it nice and wrapped up for a week. But on the return drive, what happens? I realize that the heater is on and the bag the chocolate is in is sitting right in front of one of the vents. Tragedy didn’t make me very happy. But, oh, well, I thought, it is a $6.50/85 gram bar, and since the finer chocolates are usually hearty as pioneers, it should be okay taste-wise, at least.
The looks did suffer most horribly, hence my attempt to hide most of the damage in the picture by only showing four of the sixteen squares. But a deep and chocolatey smell emanated from it, bidding me continue on. Evidence of the “stone ground” process is in the chocolate’s grainier, more rock-like look, though it still has a good breaking sound. Inside your mouth, you can feel the small bits of chocolate and sugar. Just as I was considering that they distract too much from the flavor, I started to get a soft banana flavor, so my assumption was a little off. The funniest thing, though, was that I was reminded so much of biting into Mexican hot chocolate, minus the cheapness.
Normally, I save any research of a company for after I taste their chocolate to keep from being sidetracked by them instead of the actual product. And I was glad of this this time because I had the chance to pick up on Taza Chocolate’s motive on my own. Namely, to “combine the Mesoamerican tradition with a modern, high-quality product manufactured in a socially responsible way.” One of the cofounders, Alex Whitmore, studied with a stone miller in Oaxaca after starting the company in Massachusetts. As opposed to conching, Taza uses machines with hand-hewn granite millstones from Mexico for a cultural flavor and to preserve many of the inherent nutrients. Besides being dairy, gluten, and soy free and USDA organic, this Dominican Republic bar is Direct Trade. That’s Direct Trade, not Fair Trade. On their site (which is full of information and worth taking a look at), Taza explains the problems they see in the Fair Trade system. By going Direct Trade, they deal more directly with the growers and can use the money they would’ve used for the Fair Trade logo to pay them more.
Going with my reminder of hot chocolate, Taza’s flavored chocolates are made in the traditional disc shape. They’re labeled to be eaten as is or made into hot chocolate. I actually made some with this bar, just to see how it would turn out. Very nice. Like the chocolate itself, it has the strength of the historic blended with sophisticated quality and comfortable familiarity. Worth looking into as something that’s different while still easy to catch onto.