Week 15. Pitch Dark O'Payo, Nicaragua

Cacao: 70%        Type: Dark chocolate         Origin: Nicaragua

Region: O'Payo 

Ingredients: cacao, cane sugar, cocoa butter

Where to Buy: select locations in the Pacific Northwest, including Chocolate Vitale in Seattle

Average Price:$7.00-8.00  Bar Size: 1.86 oz

Cacao Origin Map

Personal Tasting Notes

For the second time in just a few weeks, my bar of the week has turned out to be a northern Nicaraguan bar, so while I hesitate to camp out too much in one region (there are so many to explore and I'm eager to find them all!), spending some time in studying a single origin (or in this case, a single sub-origin) can afford some really great insights into the common flavor threads that run through a particular terroir, as well as the differences that can emerge as a result of the approach and methodology of the chocolate maker.

Between my last Nicaraguan review two weeks ago, (Friis Holm Double Turned Chuno) and this O'Payo 70% bar from Pitch Dark, I found really a lot of differences. Texturally, they were worlds apart; where Friis Holm focused in on an almost over-the-top smoothness, Pitch Dark's bar was far grittier and more textural, despite their use of cocoa butter for added smoothness.  I found the flavor profiles between these two bars to be vastly different as well, the O'Payo chocolate having far stronger roasted and synthetic notes, more acidity, more astringency, and less of the cocoa, tobacco, and fruit notes that I found in the Friis Holm bar. 

Overall, the Pitch Dark O'Payo is a bar that I think would really appeal to lovers of bold, dark roasted coffee. All the undertones come out in this chocolate--burnt sugar, molasses and coffee, the astringency of strong black tea, even a little bit of pepper, somewhat balanced by acidity and fruit, cocoa and nuttiness. It is a chocolate that feels as though it retains some of its wildness despite its roastiness--a textural experience set apart from other Nicaraguan chocolates.

Maker Profile

From the Pitch Dark website

A Portland, Oregon crafter compelled to forge a new yet authentic manner for understanding chocolate. From initial roasting to final packaging, every aspect of production is carefully considered to ensure the ultimate tasting experience for the everyday connoisseur. Combining proven old-world methods with new and innovative technology, we do our best to highlight the character and personality of our handpicked single origin cocoa beans.

Grading Rubric

Criteria
Good Characteristics
5
4
3
2
1
0
Bad Characteristics
Appearance
clean, shiny, snappy
  
  
  
  
  
  
bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
complex, distinctive
  
  
  
  
  
  
neutral, boring, flat
Start
flavors develop quickly
  
  
  
  
  
 
flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
flavors develop and change
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
smooth, velvety
  
  
  
  
  
  
grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
love, love, LOVE it!
  
  
  
  
  
  
meh.
Criteria
5
4
3
2
1
0
Characteristics
Appearance
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: clean, shiny, snappy
0: bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: complex, distinctive
0: neutral, boring, flat
Start
  
  
  
  
  
 
5: flavors develop quickly
0: flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors develop and change
0: flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
0: flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: smooth, velvety
0: grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: love, love, LOVE it!
0: meh.

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