Calibrating your palate

Bean to Bar, Chocolopolis, Favorites, Regional Bar Collection / Friday, April 27th, 2018

We recently decided to put together two bundles of chocolate bars made with fine flavor cacao to help our customers calibrate their palates. Why the need for The Baseline and The Calibrator bundles?

The craft chocolate market has exploded in recent years with hundreds of new makers entering the scene in a short period of time. We receive a lot of chocolate samples from new chocolate makers and while the volume of chocolate samples has increased dramatically since Chocolopolis opened in 2008, the quality of the samples has not.

We accept less than 5% of the samples submitted each year. Many of the samples we taste do not offer the complex flavors and smooth, creamy texture we expect from fine chocolate, particularly at $8 or more per bar. We put The Baseline and The Calibrator together as tools for chocolate makers and serious chocolate lovers to use in calibrating their palate for chocolate made with fine flavor cacao.

The best way to build a refined palate is to taste a lot of chocolate, and it is important to taste “Other People’s Chocolate”, or “OPC”, as Seneca Klassen of Lonohana Chocolate likes to say. Making sure to taste a range of chocolate makers and styles is important, otherwise a chocolate maker or chocophile may condition their palate to only one style of chocolate. The Calibrator and The Baseline offer our opinion on taste and texture, providing chocolate makers and chocophiles with an opportunity to taste chocolate that we think demonstrates excellence.

How did we choose the bars to include in The Calibrator?
The chocolate bars in this bundle represent bars we think offer complex, pleasant flavors, and smooth creamy texture. These are the characteristics we look for when choosing chocolate for our own chocolate collection. The exact bars in the bundle may change from time to time to reflect what we think are the best examples of flavor complexity and texture.

We had a much harder time than expected choosing the bars to be included in The Calibrator and The Baseline. Every batch of chocolate by a craft chocolate maker is different, and while there are some stalwart bars that we expected to include in the bundle, the most recent batches weren’t quite up to their usual level. It doesn’t mean they were bad, just that they weren’t as strong an example of excellence as others. All of the bars included in The Calibrator and The Baseline are evaluated for their excellence by specific batch number. A bar that is included now may not be included at a later date if we don’t feel the new batch is a good example for calibrating your palate.

How do we choose the chocolate for our curated collection?
If you would like to read more about our curation process and the challenges we’ve experienced in sourcing great chocolate, I encourage you to check out the “How We Curate” page on our website, and my recent blog post geared to the craft chocolate industry that I wrote for The Chocolate Life.