There has recently been a lot of buzz about various brewing chocolates. Choffy and Crio Bru are the two big ones that come to mind. I've received more inquires than I can count about what makes them so special, if my roasted cocoa beans will work and how one can make their own hot chocolate drink with minimum fuss.
Up until this point, I didn't have any really good answers. Now I do.
I ordered up both products (I could not get any courtesy professional samples). What I got was this
Looks a whole lot like ground cocoa with the husk on to me. Here's the two commercial ones and one I prepared.
I set up a flight of 3 tests. Choffy, Crio Bru, and Roasted Peru.
Their two I dosed as roughly recommended (2 T/ 4.25 oz 'cup' for Crio Bru, 2-3T/6 oz 'cup' for Choffy - side note, WTF is it with coffee (and now cocoa) measuring 4, 5 and 6 oz 'cups' - a cup is 8 ozs, thank you, end of story) and for mine, 40 g/8 oz. I ground mine coarsely in my hand burr grinder. A whirley blade spice grinder will work. High speed burr coffee grinders may or may not (I think not, but don't have one to try) work as the cocoa butter may melt and coat the burrs.
Just so we stay consistent here, 1 T = ~10 g. I brewed up 8 oz of each (in a french press - steeped for 5 minutes), and luckily, they all fall into a dosing of 4T or 40g per 8 oz CUP.
Here they are all brewed up.
Can you tell the difference - neither can I.
Could I taste the difference - well, in a matter of speaking. They are three different origins. Dominican Republic for Crio Bru, Ivory Coast for Choffy, and Peru as I already mentioned for mine. Here are my tasting notes, tasted 'blind' of course.
Crio Bru was a little fruity and mildly chocolatey in the nose. It had a nice mouth feel, an ok chocolate flavor and a bit as astringency.
Choffy had more chocolate in the nose but not much else. It had a full mouth feel, a moderate chocolate flavor, but not much else going on except a little sharpness. About what I would expect from Ivory Coast - it's Forastero, so has a good chocolate backbone, but not a huge amount of subtlety.
Chocolate Alchemy's Peru matched the Choffy in chocolate aroma, and some soft fruits. The mouth feel was between the other two, but more approachable in my opinion. Nice chocolate, some plum and banana flavors and a 'round' mouth feel.
I also tried these all with a little sugar and milk, just for the sake of completeness. I can't say any were better or worse than any other. The milk definitely rounded out the rough edges that I noted in the Choffy and Crio Bru. And with sugar, they all start approaching what many people think of as a hot chocolate flavor.
On that last comment about hot chocolate flavor, I should mention brewed cocoa, regardless of source, is not an intense, thick mouth coating drink like many are accustomed to in hot chocolate or the other various processed chocolate drinks. It's more subtle and sublime than that. It is its own drink. If you compare it to hot chocolate, you may come away disappointed. If you evaluate it for it own flavor and merits, I think you will come away impressed.
So, in review,
- They all looked about the same.
- They all tasted very similar, with variation for origin
- They are all roasted, ground cocoa beans.
Choffy claims some other proprietary processing method (and they may have one) but if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck and it tastes like a duck....you get the point.
The only other point I will make is this:
- Crio Bru: $14.95/12 oz bag
- Choffy: $15.00/12 oz bag
- Chocolate Alchemy Roasted beans: $10-14.50/LB (update - you can now order Brewing Cocoa directly, and it will come all roasted and ground)
I'll let my very intelligent customers decide which way to go.
Finally, I will say, in I hope the next week or so (in between winnower building) I will be setting up a Brewing Chocolate category, with 8 oz bags of roasted and ground cocoa beans, with tasting notes.
In the mean time, if you would like your roasted beans ground, just leave me a note when checking out and I will be more than happy to prepare them for you. Otherwise, you can grind them yourself in a spice grinder and you will be on your way to a new luscious taste experience. Just remember:
- 4 T/8 oz boiling water
- Steep 5 minutes
- Press (assuming you are using a press pot - drip works ok too)
- Enjoy straight, with milk (or cream) and/or sugar.