Week 18. Letterpress Marañón Peru 70%

Cacao: 70%        Type: Dark chocolate         Origin: Peru

Region: Marañón

Ingredients: organic cacao beans, organic unrefined cane sugar

Where to Buy: online or at these retailers

Average Price: $12.00 Bar Size: 2.3 oz

Cacao Origin Map

Personal Tasting Notes

I've been hoarding a significant stash of Letterpress chocolate, hidden away in its own box, for a few months now, not really knowing why I didn't put it into my bar review rotation. I know why now: I didn't want to share that chocolate with anyone--not even myself. But I finally did it, and this week's review is the result of the painful sacrifice of opening a coveted bar of Marañón chocolate so that you could hear all about it. The things I do for love.

I remember when I met David and Corey Menkes last fall at the unveiling of a brand new Peruvian origin chocolate; I knew that the Northwest Chocolate Festival was coming up soon and I needed to save my money for chocolate purchasing, so I was intent on only purchasing one or two bars of the featured chocolate. But I was happily beguiled when I heard them talking lovingly about each of the bars in their lineup, telling stories of the farms and of the farmers, how the beans were procured, how this particular farm is no longer operating, how new horizons are opening up to people in other places because of cacao. I walked away from that table with one of just about everything, because every bar told a story, and the maker wove that tale right into the chocolate.

So when it came time to review this bar, I couldn't remember the particulars and knew I had to contact David directly and ask him about it--I knew it would be a good one, and I wasn't disappointed. It was a story about trying to source the beans on a small scale, finally getting some, and going through great pains to figure out what the beans were trying to say before, 4 months later, one day they opened up and a beautiful chocolate was born. 

For me, this chocolate had a lot to say. There was a beautiful tartness and a feisty fruitiness, with lots of tabaccoey notes and spice. It talked about the deliciousness of cheesecake and rooibos tea and lemons, or raspberry and parchment paper (yes, parchment paper!), of unparalleled smoothness (despite no additional cocoa butter--how do they even do that??) Finally, there was just the right amount of bitter on the back of the tongue as the chocolate signed its name across my memory. I'll not soon forget it.

Maker Profile

Letterpress was founded in 2014 by David & Corey Menkes out of Los Angeles, and has a range of single origin and single region (and even single-plantation!) bars. They dig deep and source the best, the most sustainable, the most responsible beans they can find, and work as closely with the farmers as possible. To me, they embody the relentless pursuit of perfection in every aspect of their chocolate making, taking the time to plumb the depths of each bean and to call out its distinct and celebrated qualities. Find them on their website, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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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