Taza Chocolate is a new American bean-to-bar chocolate company that has brought an unusual approach to chocolate-making. Their new, limited edition Chiapas 75% chocolate bar is made from beans from Chiapas, in southern Mexico. It has great earthy-nutty-nutshelly notes and some fruit and spice to boot. The bar is made with Taza’s characteristically coarse grain sugar, which gives the impression of added sweetness for a bar of this cacao content.
This is an intellectually welcome and culinarily exciting addition to the small but fundamentally key (a gourmand of no less magnitude than Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin repeatedly refers to the unsurpassed drinking chocolates originating in the “sokonusco” region of Mexico. Askinosie Chocolate not long ago introduced its own Soconusco chocolate bar from a small band of growers in Mexico.
According to Larry Slotnick, co-founder of Taza with Alex Whitmore, the beans in the Chiapas bar are from the farm community of San Felipe in Southern Chiapas. Only 1,392 bars were made, and each is hand numbered. Larry and Alex don’t give cellaring recommendations, but I think the bar is eating pretty nicely right now. (I’m kidding around…)
The Taza guys say this about the bar: “We carefully blended the chocolate as a 75% dark that is a perfect balance of sweetness allowing the very unique flavor characteristics of this bean to shine. The beans exhibit a very nutty flavor profile and a dry, tannic finish not found in most chocolate bars.”
Some background on Taza: Pulling some very old technology from the shadowy recesses of history, they have resurrected ye olde grinding stone (molino) to create a more rustic, less processed chocolate.
Taza’s mission is stated: “Taza is a true bean-to-bar chocolate maker located in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is the only maker of 100% stone ground chocolate in the United States. Taza sources organically grown cacao beans directly from small farmer cooperatives ensuring those farmers receive more than fair trade prices for their high quality cacao. Taza is uniquely positioned as one of the only independently owned, socially and environmentally responsible chocolate makers in the country.”
In addition to the rougher grind and lack of conching of the chocolate, Taza roasts their cacao beans lighter than many, leaving more intense fruity acidity.