Bristol’s Cocoa Corner Bean To Bar Chocolate Review
Simple is more. This phrase works with many things, from food, decor and experiences. Coming from fat and sugary past, chocolate was usually at the bottom of my snack list unless it was infused with some manic and sweet flavours. Funny that I am doing a chocolate review then. Shows how much times have changed.
Now that I am old and decrepit, my taste buds are refined to be able to pick up on more than just sweet. A mixture of sweet, tangy, savoury and texture in a balanced form is essential for any dish to refrain from being dull and monotone.
My favourite variety of chocolate is the 100% kind. 100% that is well developed, not too bitter and is prepared from quality ingredients that will melt on the tongue. I tried many varieties of 100% chocolate, and there can be significant differences between them even if the ingredients are the same.
That said, I am no stranger to flavoured chocolate from artisans who take great pride in their work. A chocolatier who cares will use the best ingredients possible, experiment with flavours and produce chocolate that has character. Similar to a cheesemaker and cheesemonger.
The Cheese Life blog is more than just eating cheese and writing about it. Life should not be taken seriously all the time where we (and I mean me) should take the time to indulge sometimes while remaining fit and healthy. This blog is about living a fun, happy and healthy life mixed with fattening and delicious cheeses.
This article is not about cheese.
While working in Bristol before the Easter weekend, I took a break and went to the shops. While walking through House of Frasier in Cabot Circus, there was a pop-up chocolate store that had a table filled with many varieties of chocolate for you to test. There was probably more than 20 unique flavours and styles of chocolate. They even had a mini-chocolate maker whirring around to the side.
I knew that if I stopped to sample their chocolate that I would end up spending money, so I attempted to walk past. Naturally, though, the aromas go to me, so I had a gander
The pop-up shop is called Cocoa Corner – Bean To Bar and they are real chocolatiers.
Cocoa Corner creates nearly everything to do with their chocolate, even their sweeteners. Brothers, Mariusz and Sebastian, produce and sell within Bristol. Having spoken to them, they take great pride in their chocolate and have machinery and know how to create some of the best tasting chocolate I had since I visited Italy last year (there is a chocolate store in Sorrento that I fell in love with).
What I love is the attention to detail and quality but also their drive to create unique products in a sustainable way to leave as little impact on the environment as possible.
From Bean To Bar
All chocolates start from cocoa beans of course. To ensure their products are the best, they import then own cocoa beans, and not just a single type of bean too. They work with beans from Colombia, Madacasa, and Venezuela. Little did I know that each of these beans had such different character profiles between them.
They go steps further by only using other ingredients that they have vetted to be high in quality, organic and more. If there is something that they can make themselves that will better their product, they will.
In a few of their dark chocolate varieties, Stevia is used instead of sugar. If you have not had Stevia before, it is derived from a plant and has little impact on your blood sugar. However, many cheaper products on the market are either laced with other unwanted ingredients or have a nasty bitter aftertaste.
Cocoa Corner was not set on having unwanted bitter notes in their chocolate, and so they produce their own Stevia for their chocolates. Truly awesome.
Less Is More Not The Case
As mentioned in the beginning, I prefer the pure nature of an ultra dark 100% chocolate. Far more indulgent and elegant where I can let a piece of chocolate slowly melt on my tongue and be enriched with the purity of the cocoa.
Cocoa Corner has an excellent range of dark chocolates, but sadly, they did not have 100% version in their pop-up store at the time.
They also have an extensive collection of flavoured chocolate. Orange, chilli, coffee was part of the usual mix. However, there was a mixture of other flavours where you can see how the artisans have genuinely been experimenting with tastes and textures
Lack of time meant I was not able to taste all their samples; however all the unique flavours were naturally divine and morish. I had to stop myself from picking on the samples while I stood there chatting away to them.
I’ll be doing a mini-review on a dark piece of chocolate that blew me away and may review other varieties later. Just to keep it simple. However, that said, they know flavours. They know them well enough to build enough character that shines through in a single square.
Three different flavoured types of chocolates stood out to me. Espresso Crunch, Chilli & what I thought was a bizarre, Five Spice. Each of these was amazing. The Espresso Crunch had hints of honeycomb that complemented the coffee so well.
The Chilli one surprised me. Though I eat spicy foods all the time, I dislike chilli chocolate. While trying their version, I said to them that I could not detect any chilli at all. 5-10 seconds later and it hits, and I don’t hate it. The chilli is soft and subtle. It is not overpowering and graciously complements that cocoa beans used within the bar.
Five Spice is a bizarre flavour choice. There have been many times where I have put too much Five Spice into a dish called and ruined it. I sceptically put a square into my mouth and was blown away at how unique it was. It is hard to describe as I did not take many notes on this. However, it was a journey of flavours that kept me going back for more while we chatted away. It was probably my most favourited flavoured chocolate from the ones I tried.
Stoneground chocolate. This is a new one to me, and it blew me away because I did not know how a process of creating the bar could affect the taste and texture of a bar in such a way.
It’s like nothing I have ever tasted before.
Chocolatiers use traditional methods with stone mills to create Stoneground chocolate by grinding the cacao beans.
Cocoa Corners version looks like a simple bar of chocolate on the outset. It is thick, chunky and has some Aztec vibes to the design which makes it that much more elegant.
Breaking into the bar is more satisfying then it should be. Probably has something to do with the snap sound. Because the bar is quite chunky, you are able to appreciate the texture of chocolate before tasting.
It has a grainy texture feel that is scatted with pocket holes. It is a significant departure from the chocolate that we are used to that has a perfectly smooth finish throughout. The rustic nature is much preferred that adds to the experience.
Though it consists of only dark chocolate and sugar, this bar has so much going for it, and it is all down to the method, Stoneground. Tasting it and you experience grainy yet elegant and rich chocolate. It’s so expertly produced that the richness of the cocoa beans they use shine through with an intense flavour. It is strong enough that you cannot eat too much in a single sitting.
The gritty nature may make it sound like cheap chocolate, but that is far from the truth. Cheap chocolate is gritty because of the cheap ingredients and the minimal cocoa used. This, on the other hand, is gritty because of the methods to mill the beans which add to the texture and flavour.
While rich and intense, it has an earthy grain taste that is something I have never experienced before. It’s genuinely satisfying, more-ish and extraordinary.
If you are in the market to spoil yourself with chocolate that is fresh, has flavour and character, I highly recommend Cocoa Corner. They currently reside in St Nicholas Market, Bristol on Wednesdays and in farmer markets on Saturdays.
Follow them on Facebook, and hopefully, you will run into them in Bristol. In time they will have their own website with plans to open their own store.