There are few things in this world I enjoy more on a weekend than fine coffee and chocolate. What a happy coincidence then that my very first box from the Cocoa & Roast Club was ready and waiting to be unwrapped :D
The box was elegantly packed with the contents all wrapped up snugly in coffee-brown paper, assembled with a cute C&R sticker, ensuring everything arrived safely. Part of the joy of good chocolate is that first ‘snap’ of the bar. You certainly don’t want your bar arriving in pieces!
Speaking of chocolate, I didn’t hold back on diving straight in to both bars to taste and compare! The chocolate comes from The Chocolate Tree, an award-winning bean to bar maker based in Edinburgh. The handy postcard of tasting notes gives you a little background on the Chocolate Tree itself, as well as information on the two bars enclosed.
First up was the Madagascan Sambirano. This came enclosed in lively red and purple cat pattern packaging in an envelope style box. The box opens to reveal two separate bars of of chocolate. This is perfect for those who like to enjoy a few squares at a time – some for now – some for later. The box also closes back up nicely afterwards. This 72% dark bar originated from prized Trinitario cacao from the Akesson estate in northern Madagascar and promised to be a “forest fruit fiesta” to the palette. It was certainly rich, without bitterness and I could very much taste the berry and cherry tartness. It reminded me in taste of some of the raw chocolate I have tried previously, but with a nice, creamier texture.
Next was the Peru Maranon. This was presented in a blue/brown patterned box featuring, what looked like some kind of llamas (or alpaca?! – not sure but adorable).
In fact I must stop for a moment to say I would like both of these boxes as fabric patterns for cushions because they are so cute… but moving on…
The chocolate itself is a strong milk variety with 60% cacao content made from rare pure Nacional cacao, grown in a remote canyon from the foothills of the Andres. The tasting notes of honeycomb, caramel and vanilla were spot on, with a slightly salted edge that made this bar absolutely divine! This one really blew me away. I am normally more of a dark chocolate fan, but this may be the best milk chocolate I have ever had. I must pop down to the foothills of the Andes more often..!
All this chocolatey goodness and it wasn’t even 10am! Clearly I was winning at life.
Next – coffee! Time to try the seasonal blend: “Peru Finca San Ignasio/Rwanda Nyarusiza”. Hard to say or type before actually drinking any coffee ;) A separate tasting card was provided for this, which laid out a melody of top notes: honey, rose jam, praline, citrus and bottom notes of chocolatey caramel. The beans were ground finely for my espresso machine and worked beautifully to create a gentle crema on the top of the espresso.
The taste of the coffee certainly delivered. On opening the bag the aroma was gorgeously rich and the taste of the coffee was smooth and chocolatey, with the promised citrus edge, without being too fruity. In the past I have found some artisan blends a bit of an acquired taste, where you need to become accustomed to the fruitiness – but this was just right.
On closer inspection of all of the packaging and postcards I learnt a little more about the philosophy behind these products. The chocolate bars feature photos and information on the farmers involved, which is a nice touch and adds to your appreciation of these fine bars. The card explains the Chocolate Tree’s aim to supply outstanding chocolate whilst also offering impoverished farmers better profits and preserving biodiversity.
The coffee’s story sets out the farms, locations, altitudes, drying process and bean varieties, which, in summary explained that beans came from Peru and Rwanda, to a micro roastery in Canterbury before making their way to my little house here in Cambridge.
Overall this was a delightful little box to indulge in and one I would love to have again. The pairing of the chocolate and the coffee was gorgeous and you really felt like you were getting some interesting and exotic flavour combinations.
A monthly subscription is £19.99 which seems reasonable as a treat for yourself, as well as making a great gift for friends and family. You certainly feel happier paying the price knowing that the work they do to ethically source their cocoa. I found more info on their travel blog here: http://www.choctree.co.uk/blog/.