Around a year and a half ago, a friend brought a chocolate brand to my attention by tagging me on their Instagram page. I must say that tag got me super excited! Any sort of food news is breaking news for me. A made in Ghana chocolate brand that looked amazing and was very different to Golden Tree chocolate. Golden Tree is Ghana’s oldest brand of bar chocolates (established in 1965) and is readily available nationally at stores as well as on the streets by the roadside sellers.
Being intrigued with this new chocolate brand, I organised to try their chocolate as soon as I could. I was impressed with not only their packaging, but standard of chocolate. Then not long after, I noticed several other Ghanaian companies pop up on my Instagram feed that also produce bean-to-bar chocolates. Now I was spoilt for choice!
For those who don’t know, Ghana is the second largest exporter of cocoa in the world. So it is definitely time we have companies using the country’s well known raw material and help make it known for high quality finished products like the bean-to-bar chocolate bars I’m about to introduce you to.
So what exactly does ‘bean-to-bar’ mean? According to the Organic Fair website, it means “that every step of making chocolate is done by the chocolate maker”. These steps include sorting the beans, to roasting them, cracking them open, grinding, tempering the chocolate, creating the bars and wrapping them. Organic Fair’s website gives further detail on each step if you’re interested in learning some more.
I asked four friends to participate in the blind tasting so that I could concentrate solely on conducting the blind tasting and making it as fair as possible. Each person wore eye masks so they couldn’t see the chocolates they tasted while trying them. This is because some of them were already familiar with how some of the chocolates looked like and this might affect their judgement or ability to be non-bias.
The chocolates that were tasted were milk and dark chocolate varieties from the following companies:
All companies have different flavour bars as well however not all four companies had the same flavours so I thought it was best to stick to the milk and dark chocolate varieties.
Apple slices and water were provided as palate cleansers and all chocolates were served at room temperature. We started the tasting with the milk chocolates before tasting the dark chocolates. I provided some paper so the tasters could make notes on the different chocolates they tasted. They were asked to fill out and write down their observations on the aroma, whether the chocolate had a good snap, taste and texture as well as the finish of the chocolates on their palates.
I had a few key questions I wanted answered from the tasters:
- Does the price of the chocolates correlate with the quality or taste of the chocolates?
- Which packaging looks most attractive?
- Which brands were their favourite, their least favourite and why?
Reactions to the tastings were surprising and entertaining at the same time. I never knew I had some real chocolate connoisseurs amongst my group of friends! Interestingly, the decision for their least favourite milk and dark chocolates was unanimous. The favourite milk chocolate was the same for 3 out of the 4 tasters, while the favourite dark chocolate was unanimous.
Favourite milk chocolate
(source: Niche Cocoa)
Tasters enjoyed this milk chocolate the best and described it as smooth, has a nice snap, not crumbly and milky.
Favourite dark chocolate
(source: 57 Chocolate)
Tasters enjoyed this dark chocolate the best and described it as strong, has a good snap, smooth and creamy, has a nice finish, dry (which is what is expected from dark chocolate).
I have to be honest and mention that I was a little torn about whether to reveal the other rankings and least favourite chocolates, however, chose not to reveal them. Everyone has different tastes and these are just the opinions of four of my friends for the purpose of my blog post.
I can however reveal the reasons given for their least favourite chocolates. Their least favourite milk chocolate was because it was dry, had no snap, bland, grainy and tasted like cooking chocolate. Their least favourite dark chocolate was described as buttery, had a weak flavour, greasy, crumbly and very bland.
Price did not necessarily correlate to the taste or quality of the milk chocolates. Niche chocolates are priced at around 10 Cedis a bar (100 grams) which is significantly cheaper than some of the other brands. For the dark chocolates, 57 Chocolate is priced at the premium end, with a 50 gram bar for 17 Cedis.
We also reviewed the packaging of the chocolates and the following was noted:
- Moments Chocolates packaging (with a lovely matte finish) was most attractive and looked most premium
- 57 Chocolate packaging does not appear to match the quality of their chocolates and blind-tasters said they would have preferred more attractive packaging for the price
- DecoKraft packaging is nice and will make good souvenirs however the packaging looks a lot larger than the chocolate bar and makes it seem as if you are getting more than you actually get
- Niche chocolate packaging is simple but matches its pricing.
Thank you to Dania Chaar Dasuki, Elisabet Casas, Margaret McCue and Rokhsana Hailes for being my happy and willing blind-tasters! I appreciated your time and efforts in taking the tasting so seriously with the payment of free chocolate.
So tell me, what’s your favourite Ghanaian bean-to-bar chocolate brand? Are there other brands not already mentioned that are your favourite that I should know about?
Pricing of chocolates (at time of publishing) – Niche were approximately 10 Cedis/bar (varies depending on the retailer), DecoKraft 12 Cedis/bar, Moments Chocolate – 20 Cedis/bar, 57 Chocolate – varies, but milk chocolate is 21 Cedis/bar and dark chocolate is 17 Cedis/bar (bars are 50g and not 100g like other brands).
All milk and dark chocolate varieties from the various companies had different chocolate percentages. It was not possible to have them all the same for the blind-tasting.