Another one of Josef Zotter’s ‘compare and contrast’ Labooko pairings, this brace of 35g bars is the first I have seen where both chocolates have identical cocoa content. Zotter have taken cacao from two co-operatives on different continents and made a pair of 65% dark chocolate bars – one from Kerala in India and one from the Mountains of The Moon Co-Op in the D.R. Congo (which is IMO certified, as well as being organic of course).
I was particularly interested in the Indian bar – the cacao comes from Kerala, and when I was over there last year I had quite a hard time finding any decent chocolate. I was looking forward to seeing what Zotter could do with Indian beans. Keralan cacao farmers are well organised, and the state spends more on education than any other. The farmers also put emphasis on producing an organic and Fairtrade Forastero cacao.
The Congolese co-op has been instrumental in changing the lives of numerous families in a war-torn, poverty stricken part of Africa which is still trying to recover from a war that ended eight years ago.
To look at them you’d be hard pressed to tell these two bars apart. Both are identically moulded of course, but they’re also the same shade of deep red-brown. On the palate it’s a different story .
The Indian bar has higher acidity and a lighter mouthfeel. The added salt (a feature of both bars) makes itself known fairly early on, mingling with the light cacao flavours. The overall taste is light, slightly woody, with fruity overtones. The finish is clean, with the fruity high notes lingering on the palate long after the chocolate has melted away.
The Congolese bar has greater depth of flavour, with less acidity and a more pronounced plummy, fruity flavour. It’s bigger, bolder and ‘fatter’ in the mouth with the salt still present but less pronounced. At the finish some of the bolder notes taper off to leave a clean, high, finishing flavour with those red berry/fruit notes persisting to the last.
Like most of Zotter’s products, this pairing offers the consumer an opportunity to sample top quality chocolate made from beans produced in two very different parts of the world. Having visited Kerala and only found one place selling anything like half decent chocolate, I have to say I think this is an excellent idea. It takes skill to produce good quality cacao, and different skills required to turn that cacao into good quality chocolate, and Zotter certainly have the know-how required to do that.