April 10, 2012
I had a great time with the founder of Original Beans, a man busy changing the world with chocolate.
I know I have mentioned Original Beans Chocolate before, how tasting it was one of my light-bulb moments. But good things bear repetition, and one of the purposes for me of writing this blog is to spread the word about great tastes and great people in the chocolate world. Philipp Kauffmann, its founder, is an inspiring man. I have known him for a few years, enjoying hearing his ideas and his plans. He is a man on a mission to save the planet, one chocolate bar at a time. His purpose in starting Original Beans was to create a truly sustainable and ethical company, with a clear ‘conservation first’ focus. But he knows we are first and foremost consumers, and if he is going to do something then boy he does it well! So his chocolate is amongst the best in the world, used by many of the top chefs and chocolatiers. As well as just being fantastic to eat!
Knowing that it would be great fun, and that my blog wouldn’t be complete without an interview with Philipp, I jumped at the chance to accompany him while he held a tasting at WholeFoods, West London. Philipp makes a point of getting out there to meet people, tell them about Original Beans, and guide them in tasting his chocolate. The tastings at Wholefoods are a regular occurrence if you are able to get down there, and Philipp usually mans his own stall at The Chocolate Festival events.
On this occasion there were no shortage of takers, a steady stream was drawn in by the irresistible pull of free chocolate to sample. Most were charmed by the idea that for each bar bought Original Beans plants a cacao tree in the region. And intrigued that each bar in the company’s portfolio of four is made with beans coming from a distinct and different region. They are handled to draw out the very most from the bean, bringing to the fore its true nature in the purest possible product.
I quizzed Philipp on all things conservation, and chocolate. Which he took in very good grace seeing as he was also juggling a curious and delighted public. After which I went home with the full collection of bars, to sit with this slice of heaven, and bring you the ever-important tasting notes. All four bars are chocolate I have tasted many times and know I love. They are diverse and complex, but not tricky like some single origin chocolate can be.
I started with the company’s only milk chocolate, a 2011 Academy of Chocolate gold medal winning 42% bar using Equadorian Arriba beans with a touch of Fleur de Sel.
This Esmerelda bar has a light caramel smell, which is also the first note I could taste. Then a little of the fleur de sel comes through rounding it out. This is perfect touch, as it prevents the overly rich or sweet experience that tends to put dark chocolate lovers like me off the milk variety. That and the complexity of flavour, which then has honey and notes of prune and peach.
Next in line was Beni Wild Harvest, a 66% bar using cacao from the Bolivian Amazon. This one is deservedly multi-award winning, with Gold and Silver from Academy of Chocolate 2011, and Gold from the Great Taste Awards 2011. It has a very fresh, almost grassy smell, and starts bright and lemony. There is lots of fruit in it, I found blackcurrant and mango. It finishes slowly with a hint of treacle and smoke, making it both fruity and mellow, bright and comforting.
The Piura Porcelana is the highest percentage bar at 75%, but like all of them it is gloriously smooth, with no hint of bitterness. It smells of spiced berries and it starts with citrus and those berries, and then mellows into raisins and orange zest, before a long aftertaste full of coffee and toast.
Cru Virunga, Philipp’s 70% bar using cacao from Eastern Congo is a well established personal favourite. This one is complex, a riot of red fruits, then has notes of tobacco, and for me it ends tasting of molasses and plums. Yum!
As one of our delighted tasters on Thursday put it; “Originally it was one of the things they took to go into spiritual states wasn’t it? I think eating this I would be joining them.”
Very well put indeed!
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