I was expecting week 7, chock full of artisanal chocolates from boutique American makers, to be the culmination of our two months of preliminary heats. Boy was I wrong:
This tasting was a bit of a disaster for the artisanal chocolate makers — in fact, our two reference chocolates, Green & Black’s 85% and Equal Exchange Very Dark Chocolate tied for first place, each receiving three first-place votes and two second-place votes. Excluding those two, the top finisher was Dick Taylor 72% Madagascar, despite the sourness that all tasters noted, with one first-place vote, followed by the old bar of Rogue Silvestre 75% with two second-place votes. Rogue Balao 75% also received one first-place vote.
I’m not quite sure what happened — was it my tasting panel, or the protocol, or even the chocolates themselves? I mean, if you’re going to pay 24 cents a gram, you’d hope that at least someone would think it was the best they’d ever had! One theory of mine, though, is that it’s just the format of these bars:
I suspect that the size of the pieces may have significantly affected the reception of these artisanal chocolates. Unlike the two supermarket bars included as references, the five on-theme products are cast in very thin bars, which makes them less conducive to the tasting protocol we have been using. Tasters received approximately 50% larger pieces of the Green & Black’s 85% than they did of the Dick Taylor bars (at 56 grams each, the smallest in our entire series of tastings), and the Equal Exchange bar came in even larger pieces. I suspect that all of these products would have done better as somewhat thicker bars with portions between 4 and 6 grams.
(See the full details on our wiki.)
The championship round will run for two weeks, although the schedule is not determined yet. I tried to organize the chocolate lineup for each week to minimize the apples-to-oranges effects, so the first week will be:
- Theo Pure 70% Dark Chocolate (runner-up, week 1)
- Vivani Dark Chocolate (71%, winner, week 2)
- Nói Síríus Traditional Icelandic Chocolate 70% (runner-up, week 3)
- Whole Foods Costa Rican Dark Chocolate 71% (winner, week 4)
- Divine Intensely Rich Dark Chocolate (70%, Ghana, winner [tie], week 5)
- Jelina Noir (72%, mixed origin, winner, week 6)
- Equal Exchange Very Dark Chocolate (71%, winner [tie], week 7)
- Dick Taylor 72% Madagascar (Sambirano) (top on-theme product, week 7)
Check back here next week for the results!