If you love dark chocolate with rich, robust coffee, then you've found yourself the perfect bar. I've tried many craft chocolate bars with coffee and this is my favorite by a landslide. It has the superb creamy texture and sophisticated elegance that is characteristic of all Castronovo bars, and the inclusion of outstanding Colombian coffee strikes a superb balance with the deep chocolaty notes.
- Silver Winner of the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2019
- Bronze Winner of the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2017
- (Flavored Dark Chocolate Category)
Origin story: On the southern pacific coast of Colombia lies Tumaco, a region hard hit by political conflict and plagued by a history of drug trafficking. In 2011 Cacao de Colombia, a producer and marketer of premium chocolate that sources its cacao from smallholder farmers in Colombia's post-conflict regions, first explored Tumaco. What they found was cacao drying everywhere, occupying any flat surface available, including the road. The sheer volume of cacao was overwhelming and Cacao de Colombia jumped right in to help the farmers by introducing centralized processing and drying while sharing their expertise in high-quality flavor development. As a result, the farmers in the Tumaco area now earn 70% more income from their fine cacao today than they did when selling dried beans to the commodity mass market supply chain. They also have a truly sustainable alternative to coca production and association with narcotics groups.
Denise Castronovo, creator of this exceptional bar from Tumaco, is a solo female chocolate maker, and that is something of a rarity in the craft chocolate world. She is the only woman whose U.S. bean-to-bar company has amassed dozens of awards from the International Chocolate Awards (as well as Academy of Chocolate Awards and Good Food Awards). You might expect that a maker as accomplished as Denise has spent a lifetime working in the world of craft chocolate, or at least in the food and pastry industry. Actually, in her former career Denise was an ecologist and preservationist after having studied environmental science and economics in undergrad and graduate school.
Denise had always been a foodie and fine chocolate lover thanks to an aunt who lived in Switzerland and kept her supplied with spectacular chocolate bars that were unavailable in the United States. Those bars, far superior to any chocolate she had ever tasted, made an impact that imprinted on her soul. After a long and successful career dedicated to protecting the environment through mapping technology and spatial analysis, Denise and her husband moved from Massachusetts to Florida, where she decided to approach protection of the environment from a far tastier perspective.
In 2008, Denise bought some cacao nibs from Whole Foods with which to experiment, and began doing research on cacao. She was fascinated by all the different flavor notes and profiles based on genetics and origin. Eventually, in 2013, Denise began to work with fine, heirloom, single origin cacao in earnest, and knew she had found her calling.
Extremely talented and perhaps just a little bit lucky, her first batch of chocolate turned out absolutely delicious, and that kept her motivated to make more. Most craft makers talk about the many mistake batches of “bad” chocolate they had to endure before they honed their skills and turned out something truly special. Denise magically skipped that phase.
For Denise, making bean-to-bar craft chocolate is a way to improve lives and livelihoods of indigenous people. She insists on protecting the rainforests by supporting natural utilization of the land. None of Denise Castronovo’s beans come from manicured cacao plantations that had once been lush rainforests, cut down in the name of profit. All of the cacao beans she uses to make her luscious bars and treats either grow naturally in the wild or come from small, family-owned farms where cacao just happens to be one of their crops.
Denise is an inspired artisan as well as a steward of the land and protector of indigenous communities. Her chocolate is exceptional, and I know you will appreciate the fine flavor of her bars as well as her commitment to nurturing the natural world and its inhabitants.
- Ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter, Coffee
- Net Weight: 62 g. / 2.2 oz.
- Country of Origin: USA