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Home / Doug's Chocolate Republic  /   Review: Duc De Praslin Costa Rica 64%

     
Duc De Praslin Costa Rica 64% 
Posted: 8 March 2011    5.5 
Duc De Praslin Costa Rica 64% The taste started out smooth with just the right amount of bitterness but quickly went downhill from there. For a 64% bar, considered higher dark by many, the flavor was initially palatable, and I could see solely milk chocophiles going over to the "dark side" if they were to try only a tiny piece. Ever more surprising was that a Thai company pulled this off.     
Avg price/gram: USD 0.056   Cocoa %: 64  Size: 45g   
       


I was strolling around one of Bangkok's better known shopping malls, the Emporium, and I walked by a booth selling the usual pralines and truffles.  These are never cheap in Thailand because they're usually imported.  I was about to make tracks when I noticed this booth sold a range of bars with well designed packaging featuring a sort of coat of arms emblazoned with "Duc de Praslin  - Belgium" in various colors. That wasn't what grabbed me.  Nowadays, every bar is trying to inflate its reputation by association with Switzerland or Belgium.  No, the real attention grabber was the fact that each of the bars in this Origin Dark Collection was named after a different country.  I couldn't be a hundred percent sure if the country names were tributes to cocoa-producing countries or if the chocolate bars, each 45 grams in size, were really manufactured from cocoa beans grown in that country.   

Chocolate regionsI looked at the labels closely.  The bars were manufactured by a company called Gallothai, based in Bangkok.   Thai-made chocolate?  That was another surprise. Thailand does not enjoy a chocolate-making reputation. The chocolates you'll find stocked in the local 7-11's aren't Thai.  They're mostly made in Malaysia or China. I picked up two bars on the spot just to test the waters.  To compare whether the bean taste really was different from one bar to the other, I chose two bars with 64% cocoa solid content.   The Costa Rica bar was the first one.

I wrote Gallothai later, and the sales manager informed me that, yep, each country-named bar really is made from cocoa beans from that country. In more evolved choco markets, like the U.S., various country bean bars aren't the hardest thing to find,    Gallothai has the beans roasted by a third party cocoa processor in Belgium.  The Belgian owner of Gallothai, Jean-Louis Grandorge, wrote me a few days later and said that he's been producing chocolate in Thailand since the corrupt American politician and sex maniac, Bill Clinton, assumed the White House. 

Currently, about 40,000 Americans live in Costa Rica, almost 1% of the Costa Rican population, and according to one stat I read online, the highest American expat scene per capita.   Americans like its weather, its lower costs, its friendliness.  But do they like its cocoa beans?  Gallothai describes their Costa Rica bar on the packaging as "a strong dark chocolate, with a taste enhanced by the exquisite bitter cocoa aroma.  An overall delicate smoky and woody bouquet gives this chocolate its own characteristic taste."  The Costa Rican bar is composed of 62% cocoa mass and only 2% cocoa butter. 

The taste started out smooth with just the right amount of bitterness but quickly went downhill from there. For a 64% bar, considered higher dark by many, the flavor was initially palatable, and I could see solely milk chocophiles going over to the "dark side" if they were to try only a tiny piece. Ever more surprising was that a Thai company pulled this off.   Costa Rica was better than many a European or Australian bar I've sampled in the Republic.  Don't consider it heaven sent, however. 

The big downside:  the price.  45 grams is an adequate size for a chocolate snack, but I think Gallothai keeps the bars at this size in order to keep the price reasonable.  Thailand is a low cost country for food and drink, and that makes this bar look expensive.  For slightly more than half the price of this bar, I could have walked 2 minutes further into the food court and ordered a vegetarian meal of rice and three dishes.  The reality, as I found out from Gallothai's owner later, is that the Duc de Praslin bars are actually made in Belgium.  The word 'made' must be defined strictly here.   The chocolate which goes into the the Origin Dark Collections bars is produced in Belgium by a company called Belcolade, but the chocolate is fashioned into 45 gram bars and packaged in Thailand by Gallothai.   

All chocolate, especially quality chocolate, is relatively expensive in Thailand.  When you compare the Gallothai price to those of, say, import Lindts or Movenpicks, you see that Gallothai's bars fall on the highest side without it yet having the cachet value to charge those prices.  Lindt and Movenpick have economies of scale Gallothai doesn't.  They can rest on the European reputation for chocolate manufacturing which Thailand doesn't have.  When I thought the bars were Thai-made (though sourced from Belgian chocolate) I penalized the rating, figuring they were expensive for something produced in Southeast Asia.  Realizing they were really crafted in Belgium, the chocolates fall within the acceptable price range, but on the higher side, for a Belgian import

A piece of work for Thailand but you'll pay for the privilege.     

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Computer Comprehensive Companion

  Thailand has Belgian chocolate produced by Belcolade. The dark chocolate is sourced in Belgium from beans grown in Costa Rica. Gallothai markets the Belgian chocolate bar as Duc de Praslin. The dark chocolate is part of the Origin dark collection series. Like the chocolate republic with Doug of Doug's Republic?