To paraphrase singing Scottish siblings The Proclaimers, when it comes to good chocolate, I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more, just to be the girl who gets a box directly through her door. But now, thanks to Cocoa Runners, there’s no perambulation of any kind required; unless you fancy a quick jog to build a decent calorie debt ahead of your glorious gorge.
‘Cause once you crack into this chocolate, you might find it hard to stop at a single square. Each monthly delivery showcases a different quartet of specimens from around the world – what’s more, the brown cardboard box is innocuous enough to sneak past the postman, your partner, and even the piggy flatmate who can sniff out a truffle like a prize hog without betraying your delicious little habit.
It’s not a bad habit to cultivate, particularly if you already linger a little too long in the confectionary section and skulk in the shadows of your local chocolate shop, sniffing around for single-origin samples. Think of the service as a kind of Open University for chocoholics; one that will turn you from hobbyist enthusiast into cocoa connoisseur. You even have access to an excellently-indexed, bargainous online ‘chocolate library‘. Don’t do yourself a disservice by denying yourself the opportunity to become a scholar.
I, for one, am a willing student. Thus far, I’ve been self-schooled, even slavishly sampling over 50 high-cocoa bars in an attempt to earn myself an edible education. Been there, done that, then? Not at all – Cocoa Runners seeks out the best bean-to-bar beauties that elude even experts, providing detailed notes on each bar’s origins, producer’s story, and eating qualities.
And it’s a quality haul. My first box produces packages from Pacari, Menakao,Original Beans, and Marou – all companies that I’m familiar with, all bars that I’m not. There are also a couple of teddy bears, although they’re not there for a picnic; rather, to show Cocoa Runners’ own creativity with chocolate from The Cocoa Tree.
I don’t dive straight in like Augustus Gloop – when that sort of gorging is in order, cheap corner shop choc is the order of the day. But this stuff is worth savouring; the shiny little squares like those gold stars you earn for scholarly endeavours. Read the notes, reap the rewards. And as we all know, you reap what you sow. So, after poring over the paperwork, I feel justified in sitting down with an awesome foursome of phwoarsome chocs.
First, I go low with Menakao’s 44% Madagascan milk with vanilla. It’s a fruity beauty; Galaxy for grown-ups. That brand is fond of proclaiming it’s not mere ‘cotton’, but Menakao’s offering is like the highest threat-count Egyptian stuff, knocking that sugary, so-called silk into another solar system. Original Beans’ Bolivian Beni Wild Harvest is next, darker, smoother, less lively – and, to me, a little less likeable.
I persevere with Pacari, and a raw Ecuadorian specimen with a 70% cocoa content. This is more like it; grassy and slightly vegetal, bittersweet, with the distinctive, divisive ‘raw’ flavour that I rather like. As with the other bars I’ve tried from the Vietnamese maker, Marou is marvellous – the Tien Giang 70% so aromatic, so smoky with spice and dried fig that it tastes like it’s had flavour added.
Witnessing my munching, the aforementioned teddies are begging me with their beady eyes to spare them. But it’s no use. In the urban vernacular, the little bears are bare tasty; all roasty-toasty with the black tea flavours of The Chocolate Tree’s Peruvian 70% stuff. Sorry, chaps. A cute appearance is no excuse for eschewing a moment of edible ecstasy.
If you have the slightest liking for chocolate, I’d urge you to dash over to your computer and check out Cocoa Runners post haste. There aren’t many monthly deliveries that deliver so many moments of thoroughly enjoyable indulgence and impart equally enjoyable education as they do so. Sign up for the school of choc; an academy that edibly embodies the ethos ‘food for body and mind’.
- For more information on Cocoa Runners, and to subscribe, visit cocoarunners.com.
- Monthly subscriptions start from £14.95 and subscribers have the chance to purchase over 100 individual bars from the chocolate library at a special price.