Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Wild Juruá 70% Bar from the Brazilian Rainforest
Every once in a while, in a Zingerman’s world that is filled with special people and special products, something comes along that is so exceptional from start to finish that it grabs my attention at a particularly high level. This newly-arrived chocolate bar, made solely from wild cacao in northwestern Brazil, is one of those. It’s the result of a project created and brought to fruition by a group of folks who live a long way from each other, but are very closely aligned in their values. Making this bar happen has been a lot of work by a lot of people. The five families in northwestern Brazil who harvest wild cacao; Luisa Abram the chocolate maker, in her workshop 1,000 miles to the southeast in Sao Paulo; Matt and Yelena Caputo, the quality- and craft-committed importers who imagined this project from their home base in Salt Lake City; a handful of specialty retailers like us around the country; and consumers (like you) who care enough about quality, tradition, and ecosystem health to take the time to buy and eat it.
Luisa Abram and her family in Brazil are doing wonderful work with hard-to-find old cacao varietals and crafting some exceptional, complexly flavored bars. We’ve been carrying a couple of different bars from her for the last few months, and I’ve been eating them all regularly! This great new arrival though is even more special still. A limited edition, 70% dark chocolate made with a rare varietal of wild beans hand-harvested in the region of the Jurua River. The proceeds from the bar go to support five families who are harvesting this wild cacao in the Amazon; Matt and Yelena Caputo prepaid for the whole harvest to help the farmers with cash flow. Matt Caputo shares that, “This project is one of the most important I’ve ever undertaken. It is my joint effort with one of my favorite chocolate makers. An effort to save the cacao from Jurua, a genetically unique type of wild cacao.”
Everything about this bar is exceptional. The package, the card, and the mold for the actual chocolate were all done by Dan Christofferson and his company, Young Jerks—the design work is awesome! Matt shared, “I met Dan when he attended a chocolate class at Caputo’s, and he quickly became my favorite artist. A lot of his work is very symbolistic, cryptic, and a proud jewel of Utah counterculture.” The label is hand drawn, fabulous, and attention-getting. The pattern pressed into the actual bar itself is also beautiful; the corners are “clipped” in one of the small design touches that would be easy to ignore, but add a little bit of extra beauty to the bar.
The finished chocolate is truly terrific. The aroma is lovely—the smells alone are enough to excite the imagination. The flavor has an exceptional fruity lightness and an unusually interesting complexity. There’s a creaminess to it that makes me think it could be a milk chocolate, but it isn’t—all that’s in the bar is cacao and organic cane sugar. There’s a nice delicate touch of tannins in the finish, a flavor that makes me want to just keep eating more.
Read more about our curated collection of chocolate here!