Cuyagua is a remote valley in Venezuela that neighbors Ocumare de la Costa. Historically, beans from this area have not been plentiful enough for companies to produce chocolate regularly. In fact, supply has been so low that the only company to produce a pure Cuyagua bar has been Scharffen Berger, and they did it twice in different years. Well, move over Scharffen Berger; Amano has a wonderful surprise for everyone: a Cuyagua 70% bar, which is also limited edition.
So, with only one Cuyagua bar available to the public (two, if you count the two batches), our reference basis is very limited. Scharffen Berger’s first run was fruity and spicy, somewhat dark as well, and overall a good chocolate, if a little wild and perhaps roasted too lightly. I sampled the second batch not too long ago, but impressions weren’t good.
Amano’s bar, by contrast, is much more complex and interesting. It’s not as heavy as their Ocumare bar, but rather a notch or two below it. Spicy and piquant like molasses, but also fruity with hints of dairy, the chocolate is practically a whirlwind of flavor. It even showcases some earthiness towards the end, like a Carenero usually does, exhibiting similarities in spatial ecology.
It’s obvious Amano knows what they’re doing with this cacao. They ousted Scharffen Berger easily, managing to control the wild nature of the beans perhaps with a longer roast. I can confidently say that Amano should handle this cacao exclusively, so if anyone from Utah is reading this, you better work hard to get your hands on this cacao before anyone else!
As an aside, I wrote an extensive article on Amano in The Nibble. You’ll notice that more than just Amano was covered, but Karen, the editor, loves to educate readers! I hope you find it informative. Read it here.