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Review: Duc De Praslin Costa Rica 64%
Duc De Praslin Costa Rica 64%
Posted: 8 March 2011
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.
price/gram: USD 0.056
Cocoa %: 64
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.
I 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
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.
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
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
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
you'll pay for the privilege.
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?