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Home / Doug's Chocolate Republic  /   Review:  Madecasse Arabica Coffee

     
Madecasse Arabica Coffee 
Posted: 26 July 2012    9.0 
Madecasse Arabica Coffee from Madagascar As befits any premium wholesome product, the ingredient list is easy to decipher.   Before I took my first bite, I expected a decent, but not great, chocolate, trying to garner international sales by appealing to people on the emotional level.  I was in for a pleasant surprise. The milk chocolate was smooth, perfectly rich, not too milky, not too bitter. And there was plenty of coffee taste. The coffee wasn't ground up into a pulp to create a coffee-cacao flavor. The milk chocolate and coffee flavors remained distinct, with coffee crumble and coffee nibs, and it worked perfectly for this bar.   
Avg price/gram: USD 0.079   Cocoa %: 44  Size: 75g   
       


Madagascar occupies a respected position, though a small one, as a grower of rare Criollo as well as Forastero and Trinitario beans. Only 1% of world cacao production comes from Madagascar, in an area about 50 km in radius.  Cacao from the lush island of Madagascar is nothing new on the Chocolate Republic.  Whittaker's Milk Madagascar and Valrhona's Manjari both got high marks here.    

I almost made it to Madagascar.  Way back in 1997.  I was traveling through Africa with my then girlfriend.  We hitched a boat from Mozambique to Kenya in the hopes of getting dropped off in Madagascar on the return journey.  Never happened.  We got kicked off the boat in Kenya.  That's another story, which has nothing to do with chocolate.       

Aussie Dave mailed me five Madecasse bars for sampling purposes.  I was then on a cleanse and stored them in my refrigerator.  I didn't get a chance to sample them before my wife and I took a trip to China and Korea in June.  My father-in-law visited while we were abroad and helped himself to a few of these in my absence, much to my dismay.  I had to re-order them from a U.S. chocolate retailer and have them shipped to my brother who then re-shipped them to me.  That, too, is another story, which has nothing to do with chocolate -- well, chocolate that went into my mouth.       

Madecasse is a bean-to-bar manufacturer set up by two former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, Brett Beach and Tim McCollum.  The two had done their stint in Madagascar and wanted to found a business which could help the Malagasy economy.   Nearly all the treasured cacao grown in Madagascar -- and the rest of Africa, for that matter -- is exported and turned into famous chocolate bars by other companies.  The French company Valrhona has exclusive buying rights to the entire production of the Millot Estate  Madecasse wants to keep the value-added in Madgascar itself.  They source the beans from a cooperative in Madagascar and turn them into finished wrapped bars in a nearby factory. 

The press you see on Madecasse would have you believe that Madecasse is the first of its kind to harvest cacao and turn it into an edible bar locally. That isn't true. Two bean-to-bar manufacturers, Chocolaterie Robert and Chocolaterie Cinagra, were in operation before the idea of Madecasse was ever conceived.  Viewing some marketing videos for Madecasse, I noticed they mentioned that they carted the beans to their partner's factory.  I did a little research and discovered that Madecasse's local partner is Chocolaterie Cinagra.  My research was a waste of time.  You only need to look on the back wrapper to see that the bars are made in Madagascar by Cinagra.   

This is a very unusual situation for a bean-to-bar manufacturer to be in.  Madecasse is almost like a chocolate management company.  They have their own relationships with cooperatives.  They have their own local Malagasy manager, as the two founders spend nearly all their time in the US.   I assume they must have their own recipes (though I have nothing base that assumption on).  But actually none of the infrastructure -- the farms or the factory -- are theirs.           

Madecasse's Arabica Coffee utilizes the same blend as Madecasse's Milk Chocolate, which comes in at very high cocoa solid content (44%) for a milk chocolate bar.  Better producers want to highlight cacao flavor, so their milk chocolate blends tend to have as much cacao as cheaper producer's darks.  See Lindt Dark Hazelnut for an example of a dark poseur. Madecasse is well aware of this trend.   They describe their own bar as a "dark" milk chocolate.       

As befits any premium wholesome product, the ingredient list is easy to decipher, simply sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, 2% arabica coffee, emulsifier, natural vanilla powder (Madecasse also sells Madagascan vanilla), and sea salt.  I have to come clean.  Before I took my first bite, I expected a decent, but not great, chocolate, trying to garner international sales by appealing to people on the emotional level.  "We make our chocolate in Madagascar," Madecasse ceaselessly claims.  "This creates 4 times the impact of Fair Trade Cocoa."  I was in for a pleasant surprise.  The milk chocolate was smooth, perfectly rich, not too milky, not too bitter.  And there was plenty of coffee taste.  The coffee wasn't ground up into a pulp to create a coffee-cacao flavor.  The milk chocolate and coffee flavors remained distinct, with coffee crumble and coffee nibs, and it worked perfectly for this bar.     

Madecasses's social mission could persuade me to buy the bar once. The wonderfully smooth flavor and expert blend of filling is what will keep me coming back. Korea should shut down all its coffee shops and start selling Madecasse Arabica Coffee bars instead. Now THAT'S a social mission. African farmers would get a financial boost and Koreans would finally be able to get a tasty coffee caffeine kick in the morning actually worth $5 or $6.

If you liked reading this, consider savoring these reviews:strong>
 Jacquot Dark Chocolate Pecan from France -- 49% cocoa solids
 Cadbury Roast Almond from India -- 24% cocoa solids
 The Complete Chocolate Republic Index


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  Madecasse has arabica coffee in a milk chocolate made in Madagascar by Cinagra. Do you like Madagascan milk chocolate made with coffee nibs? The chocolate republic does.