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12/01/2010

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Hi Candice

We have been following your blog with interest, and were pleased to see your review of our Chuao bar recently. We wanted to respond to the challenges you raised regarding the bean type, conch time and pricing.

Chuao is not an ongoing part of our range but is making a guest appearance while we can get the beans, which we were able to do for the first time, from a respected cocoa broker. We have not had DNA tests carried out on such a small batch but we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the origin of the beans. We are very interested in DNA testing but we are restricting this to Rabot Estate grades where we have total control over the traceability, down to the specific tree.

Regarding the conch time, this production was a micro-batch and we made the decision to process in a combined refiner conch. The nibs go straight into the conch and the total time includes mixing, grinding, refining and conching. With this processing method, we can’t explicitly separate the time for conching and the 96 hours is the total processing time. The real test is the final taste. At several tastings (yours included, thanks!) our Chuao has come out well, including when pitched against the better known Chuao players. This gives us the appetite to continue to explore the possibilities with this bean, including hopefully a second batch.

We are also really glad that you have commented on the reasonable price of the Chuao bar. It is part of our fine chocolate range where we aim to make quality and variety accessible to our customers, whilst insulating them from the vagaries of supply and demand via consistent consumer level pricing. I can assure you that the Chuao beans were the most expensive beans we have ever bought!

I hope this addresses the questions you have raised and look forward to reading your next reviews.

Rgds
Angus Thirlwell

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