Bonnat – Porcelana

Recently, a friend from Germany sent me a Porcelana bar produced by Bonnat. This bar has been circulating for a couple months now in Germany and only recently has it become available at Chocosphere in America. At a whopping 100g, the bar is larger than most bars of Porcelana composition, and the price certainly shows.

In Germany the bar is sold for €5.90 ($8.65) but in America for $16.95, which is almost double the price. Nonetheless, one bar costs less than two of Amedei’s 50g bars ($26 total), so the price really isn’t that bad. Besides, this is an affordable luxury, produced from one of the rarest cacao beans on the planet.

Bonnat PorcelanaThe pink wrapper looks almost silly, quite honestly, but the bar inside looks very serious. Its shade is perhaps darker than most Porcelanas I’ve encountered and has an aroma to match. It’s dark, similar to Amedei, showing raisins, woods, and mild red fruits as well. The flavor follows suit but suggests some issues in bean quality and processing. Coffee and raisin dominate in this roast-influenced flavor, with bitter surges underneath, apparently quelled by extra cocoa butter since the texture is by far Bonnat’s smoothest.

Many problems come to mind after trying this bar. First of all, bean quality is obviously very low, which is a reality evident by the high bitterness level and associated over-roasting (#2). Extra cocoa butter (#3) compounds the problem by relegating all flavors to the background and thus giving a muffled feel to the flavor. These are common problems experienced by many seasoned makers, but when you’re dealing with beans such as these, a little more precaution should be observed.

If there is a reason to complain about this bar, it has to be the substandard quality one pays for at an exorbitant price. With such a grisly outcome, Bonnat should have cut their losses and sold the bar for at least half the going price. I understand very well what kind of arduous labor goes into making a bar of chocolate, and I agree wholeheartedly that farmers don’t earn enough money for their efforts. But there really is no excuse for a chocolate maker to charge so much for a bar of such shoddy quality. As I said, the losses here should come at the expense of Bonnat, not the farmers.

I’m not shifting the blame completely off the farmers, though. They have been known to mix cacaos of various origins and still call it nominally this or nominally that, unbeknownst to the buyer. Obviously, there’s a bit of risk involved, but you have choices and when you do buy, the ball is in your court.

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9 Responses to Bonnat – Porcelana

  1. Scott says:

    Excellent review. I guess I’ll save my money on that one.

    Have you tried Valrhona’s Porcelana (available only in that hexagonal package with the strangely molded pieces)?

  2. Hans-Peter says:

    Scott, I tried it a couple years ago when a friend sent a sample to me overseas, and initially I wasn’t impressed. I remember it vaguely now, i.e. pinkish in nature and very delicate.

    Valrhona also has another Porcelana bar readily available: Palmira. That’s a little known fact Valrhona is slowly revealing to the public. Personally, I’ve never liked the bar, especially 2006 which was a disaster.

  3. Scott says:

    Didn’t know that about Palmira. Thanks for the info.

  4. Steveg says:

    Thanks for your review. I was thinking of ordering that one, but will stick with the Amedei. Have you tried the Porcelana chocolate by Valrhona, Domori or Scharffen Berger?

  5. Hans-Peter says:

    Hello Steve, I’ve not tried the Scharffen Berger and since it was a limited production, those chances are now null. At any rate, to Domori I can say yes, and while that chocolate is superior to Amedei’s I have to insert that at one time it tasted like peat, tart apples, and bitterness. A bad batch you could say. Now, it’s back to pristine form, and gram for gram, it’s the cheapest Porcelana and ironically the best.

  6. Nadine says:

    http://www.ciao.fr/Bonnat_Porcelana_75__Avis_1065704
    I’m french woman from Paris and I bought 6€ a Porcelana (6 bars ) for my friends and me too directly to the Bonnat ‘s stand of Paris Salon ogf chocolate on the 2007/10/19 with another color of paper for ce special white bean. I’m not the same appreciation because, I suppose, itis no good to travell this beans. It’s like a exceptional french woman, her beauty and quality must have all attentions;o) In french all is rare is expensive, 6€ is nothing for the exceptionnel criollo. This bean is the harmonie of the strong of a man and the sweety of a woman. Bye and if you are found of french chocolate and quality when you will come in Paris, buy Michel Cluizel (Concepcion) before Valrhona. Bye

  7. Olorin says:

    Hans-Peter,

    On Jan 15 you said, “Valrhona also has another Porcelana bar readily available: Palmira. That’s a little known fact Valrhona is slowly revealing to the public.”

    Thanks for that info. It’s good to know. You always have good information. I’m curious about whether that kind of information is publicly available to the avg consumer, like me, or did you find that out from people you know or other insider connections that you have?

  8. Hans-Peter says:

    Olorin, I think both but I forgot exactly where I found out and who told me, but I found that info in the same week. I got an insider tip and also read the same statement on a website, which unfortunately I forgot the url for!

  9. francis Schenstead says:

    I have been a huge fan of porcelana for many years and keep finding it strange that coppeneur is rarely reviewed or spoken of. coppeneur does an amazing job of porcelana and their chuao, to such a degree that I have quit buying any of the others including domori for my personal consumption I am not affilated in any way with this company other than a consumer. I offer chocolate tasting courses at our bed and breakfast and at schools and colleges across the country (Canada) , breaking it down by types, countries counching times ect. Blind tasting of hundreds of students with and without experience in chocolate all rate coppeneur near or at the top of their list for both chuao and porcelana

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