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.
The 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.