Videri Chocolate Factory are a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Raleigh, North Carolina. They make a range of products, but these attractive boxes with removable lids containing two individually wrapped 43g bars are their primary offering.
As you can see, they come in several flavours and cocoa percentages, but the one thing they don’t mention on the box is bean origin – something unusual for a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Videri’s chocolate maker, Sam Ratto tells me this is because they are still working on getting consistent supplies of beans – a problem that often faces artisan chocolate makers. He added that these bars are made with beans from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
Rather than going with single origin products, Videri have chosen to create their own blends. While I generally prefer single origin chocolate, the Videri approach means that blends can be created to work with specific flavours, and also tweaked from batch to batch, in order to create a more consistent flavour when the beans themselves vary. Larger chocolate companies use this approach all the time in order to try to keep the flavour of the final product the same from year to year.
The bars I was sent to sample are:
70% Dark Chocolate
The highest cocoa percentage product in the range, and the only unflavoured dark chocolate. While it doesn’t have the glossiest of finishes, it does have a smooth texture, and in interesting flavour, although it’s certainly not the most complex chocolate I’ve had. There’s a subtle fruitiness to it and it’s very approachable and easy to eat. I did find it a little too sweet for my tastes though, which is odd for a 70% bar.
60% Dark Chocolate With Sea Salt
The other dark chocolate bars in the range are flavoured and a lower 60% cocoa solids. This one has small grains of sea salt on the underside, which help to bring out the natural chocolate flavours. I much preferred this blend to the 70%, and the salt works perfectly to enhance the flavours. It’s very easy to eat this one a little too quickly.
60% Dark Chocolate With Pink Peppercorn
Another enjoyable bar. I believe this is the same 60% blend with crushed pink peppercorns embedded into the chocolate, rather than salt. There’s a little bit of a kick to it, but the pepper adds more flavour than heat. I think I prefer the sea salt version, but still enjoyed my time with this chocolate!
60% Dark Chocolate With Peppermint
I’m not a big fan of mint and chocolate together. Too many cheap chocolate mints as a child finally caught up with me, so I wasn’t expecting to like this bar. Where as most artisan chocolate makers would perhaps choose peppermint oil to flavour a mint bar, Videri have chosen something uniquely American – crushed candy canes. And for some reason, I find myself enjoying it. I think it’s because the mint flavour isn’t overwhelming. I can still taste the chocolate, albeit sweetened by the candy. An interesting choice, and one that surprisingly (for me) works quite well!
Dark Milk Chocolate
The final bar in the selection is a dark milk. The label on this one also omits the cocoa percentage, but Sam tells me it’s 50% cocoa solids, which is exactly what I guessed. The milk solids take the edge off the natural bitterness of the cocoa and give a slightly malty finish, but don’t expect a sweet milk chocolate here. They add a flavour note, rather than transforming the chocolate into something sweet and creamy, and I’m OK with that.
The texture is a little coarse, but after a chunk or two, it becomes quite addictive. It’s an unusual, but pleasant experience, and one that I found grew on me. In terms of flavour, I still prefer the 60% dark chocolates though.
All in all, this is an interesting and unusual selection of bean to bar chocolates. The packaging is great, and the chocolate is very approachable and easy to eat. The decision to use blends rather than go for single origin bars perhaps gives less complex and distinctly different chocolates, but it does give Videri the opportunity to tweak and refine the blend of beans and final recipe without having to rework the packaging every time.
At the moment, the flavours and blends are a little more conservative than I’m used to and I’d love to see something more experimental, but that’s easy for me to say from thousands of miles away with little knowledge of the local market. The people at Videri do seem passionate about making great chocolate, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them again.
If you’re in the area, Videri offer free tours of their impressive looking factory. The chocolate is also available to buy online with worldwide delivery.