A couple of weeks ago, on February 25th, I skipped my bootcamp class at the gym and went to a Master’s Tea with Judy Logback, the founder of Kallari chocolates, instead. After complaining about the Times Styles’ snarky chocolate review that fawned over Kallari a bit too much, how could I pass up the opportunity to meet and taste chocolate with the woman who founded the cooperative?
Judy, a student at Yale’s School of Management, gave a great talk and tea. She covered the details of how the Kallari cooperative works, what the cooperative’s farmers and chocolate makers do, and how each step that they do themselves earns them more money and helps them work their way out of poverty. I was quite impressed.
Along the way, Judy threw in neat chocolate facts. I learned that processing cacao with alkali (aka Dutch processing) darkens the color of the cacao without affecting the flavor, which explains why some chocolates manage look so much darker than they taste. I also learned that high quality chocolate doesn’t need lecithin as an emulsifier because they’re comprised of just cocoa butter and cocoa solids. And, most shockingly of all to me, I learned that in the U.K., single-origin bars only need to contain 10% of beans from that single-origin. In the U.S., the claims are totally unregulated.
We tasted 8 bars along the way, four of them from Kallair. Three were the above bars that Kallari is now selling via Whole Foods, and the fourth was one of their artisanal bars. While the Whole Food bars are machine tempered and molded, the artisinal bars are entirely handmade, from tempering to molding. Judy had us taste the chocolates as she went through her Kallari slideshow, stopping every few slides ask us about what we thought about what we were eating. It was a little intimidating to verbalize my tasting notes to a chocolate expert, but it was also neat to hear her responses and feedback.
The bars were tasted blindly, though Judy gave us their percentages as we went. The bars and my notes are below the photo.
- 86% Ghirardelli – cool, thin, glossy melt thanks to good use of cocoa butter. Pretty bitter, dry finish, but not exactly unpleasant.
- 85% Kallari artisinal bar – more burnt smell; sweeter, winey notes to the flavor. A thicker melt than the above bar, but still not thick, exactly, and with a slight grit
- 85% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – thicker melt, fruity finish. Astringent.
- 85% Lindt – strong smell, thick melt. A light, fruity sweetness that gave way to a super dry finish.
- 75% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – milky, caramel notes with a wonderfully dusky finish (Judy said the caramel notes were from their use of organic raw cane sugar). ZOMG
- 75% Chocolove – sweet, strong cherry notes. Suprisingly thick melt for dark chocolate.
- 70% Green & Black’s – flat fruity citrus sweetness. Unexceptional and, well, flat.
- 70% Kallari bar available at Whole Foods – reminds me of European bars with the dusky caramel flavors.
My favorite bar of the lot was number 5, Kallari’s 75% bar. I went back for seconds, and it definitely merits a ZOMG! I’ll be looking for it next time I’m in a Whole Foods.
Finally, just a logistical note to point out, these bars aren’t technically certified Fair Trade, but I’ve chosen to tag them as such. Kallari has gone so far above and beyond the ideals of Fair Trade that they’re really beyond certification.