Friday, April 24, 2015

Hageland - Costa Rica 71% dark bar - April 24, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

(Kim's Chocolates)
Costa Rica 71% dark bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 159 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $1.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Palo Alto, CA

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Central America Theme Week.

Kim's Chocolates is a large chocolate maker in Belgium that manufactures bars under different brand names in the U.S., including KC, Cachet, and Hageland (a brand originally developed for Walmart).

The Hageland Costa Rica 71% dark chocolate bar, was made in Belgium, with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, and imported into the U.S. and stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I bought this bar.

Evolving supply chain, sourcing

Ingredients and commodities are often shipped thousands of miles, as part of our food supply chain, before they arrive, wholly integrated and packaged on grocery shelves. I try to shop local where I can. However, most chocolate I buy has a back-story that started with growing cacao in the tropics, and involved shipping cacao beans to a manufacturer or maker elsewhere.

The good news is that even larger players like Kim's Chocolates are trying to make improvements to their supply chain and manufacturing process. (E.g., they're working to switch to a more sustainable sourcing model, and to power their plant in Belgium with solar and alternative energy sources. Twenty percent of their energy is coming from their own solar panels.)

Today's single region bar was made, as mentioned above, with Rainforest Alliance Certified cacao. What does that mean? It means that beans were sourced from Costa Rican farms that met certain criteria for production and farming methods and treatment of workers. "Cocoa workers and families have proper housing, education, access to medical care and safe working conditions."

So, what did the bar taste like?

The tasting notes on the back of the bar package contained this description: "This strong dark origin chocolate" (has an) "...exquisitely bitter cocoa taste," (with a) "tempting bouquet of smoke and wood."

I also thought this bar had a very "dark" earthy, heavily roasted, smoky (almost burnt) flavor, with a hint of nuttiness as well. Given its strong flavor it was still well balanced and enjoyable to eat. And, very reasonably priced.

Tomorrow I'll taste and feature a very similar Costa Rica 71% dark bar, also made by Kim's Chocolates, for Whole Foods Market (with a Whole Trade Guarantee symbol). The ingredients were just a tad different, but the tasting notes on the back look very similar (dark, smoky). 

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