If I buy a chocolate bar that is light brown or soft/powdery should I eat it?

With high temperatures during the summer, chocolate is particularly susceptible to changes, which is called fat bloom. We apologize if you find a bar with some degree of bloom. While we store our chocolates at the right temperature, during transportation the excessive heat or the direct radiation from the sun might melt the bar ever so slightly; however, it is ok to eat.
Chocolate bloom is a whitish coating that can appear on the surface of chocolate. There are two types of bloom: fat bloom, arising from changes in the fat in the chocolate; and sugar bloom, formed by the action of moisture on the sugar ingredients.

Why don’t you use vanilla in your chocolate recipes?

At the production stage, we believe that vanilla is frequently used as a frill that superficially enhances flavor or masks unsavory flavors in low-quality cocoa; and real gourmet chocolate, at this stage, shouldn’t need any masking. This is very different from chef’s using added ingredients in their confections at the cooking stage.We believe in a pure product that is refined for a chef’s palate and needs, and to that end, we want to give chefs a “blank slate” to create whatever they want with the chocolate in whatever flavor they please – with or without vanilla. We want to provide gourmet chefs with bricks of high-quality, delectable chocolate, not bricks of vanilla.

What’s all this emphasis on couverture, and what is it, anyway?

Couverture is a term that simply means a chocolate that is made for covering, for instance, on pastries. We call that “enrobing,” i.e., in enrobed my phillo in 85% cacao. What makescouverture chocolate different than mass-market retail chocolate is its ability to melt and “cover” well because of high cocoa butter content. Cocoa butter is the most costly component in chocolate making, but it’s also one of the healthiest things about eating chocolate (besides of course the super-high doses of antioxidants found in pure cocoa). For chocolate to be considered couverture, it should have more than 32 percent cocoa butter; and in our case, even our retail bars have a higher percentage than that.

Is the cocoa pod a fruit or a vegetable, because if it’s either, than it should make up at least half of my diet for life!

Technically, it’s neither. Cocoa beans (used to make chocolate after the fermentation process) are found inside the cocoa pod, which is the fruit of the cacao tree. Natives of places that grow cacao often crack the pod open and suck on the unfermented and pulpy cocoa beans inside. In the fermentation process, those pulpy cocoa beans are dried out (sometimes called cocoa nibs) and used to make chocolate. We still think pure and natural cocoa like ours is pretty awesome, but you should probably check with your doctor before making chocolate its own food group!

Can you tell me more about the fermentation process?

Absolutely. And if you leave it to us, we’d talk to you about it for hours. But here’s the basic gist of what it means to ferment cacao in a few short words:
First, cocoa pods are opened and the pulpy cocoa beans inside are scooped out over large banana leaves or a massive wooden box known as a fermentation vat. That vat has holes on the bottom which allow the liquids in the pulp to drain. At this point, the white pulp covering the bean begins to ferment with the help of tiny microorganisms. This leads to changes inside the bean which, over time, will influence both the flavor of the bean and final product – the chocolate bar you will eventually eat.
The characteristics a chocolatier would want in his chocolate depend on this critical fermentation process; much like a wine maker’s fermentation processwould affect how wine would taste. This is why Arriba Gold thinks that being close to the source is so important. Because we have control over the fermentation process our finished product is just what we want it to be.

If you want a more detailed and scientific explanation, check out the International Cocoa Organization’s explanation here. INCLUDE HYPERLINK

Why is your chocolate produced in Ecuador and not here in New York City, or even Belgium?

At Arriba Gold we think that if you want good chocolate, you go right to the source. So we hitched a ride on a plane to Ecuador, found our beloved Arriba beans and set up camp. New York City (and Belgium) has great sights to see and foods to eat, but we looked high and low and couldn’t find a cacao tree! Processing the cocoa beans and producing the chocolate near the source means we have tight quality control and can watch over the process from start to finish.

Can you tell me a bedtime story?

Sure. We think the best kinds of stories are legends, especially legends with chocolate in them. And legend has it that way back in the 19th century, while cruising along the Guayas River in Ecuador, a French chocolatier came upon some men toting freshly harvested cocoa. On smelling it he asked where it came from, and they responded, “de rioarriba”, which means “from upriver”. Since then, this variety of awesome cocoa has been known as “Arriba.”

Let’s talk organic. You talk a lot about natural, pure and raw, but your chocolate isn’t labelled organic. Why don’t you have the label and how does your product rise up to the standard without it?

Before it was called organic, most stuff that grew from the earth was just called “food.” You planted a seed, it grew, you ate from it. That’s it. Industrialization brought upon the “need” for pesticides and other chemicals and processes that were just plain bad for us and not good for the earth, either. But in Ecuador, where we purchase our cocoa from local farmers, the cocoa is intrinsically organic because cocoa grows in the wild without the need of fertilizers. Not only that, farmers in Ecuador simply can’t afford fertilizers or chemical controls. What you see is what you eat.
In our opinion, organic labeling actually hurts small farmers in Ecuador and other parts of the world. USDA organic or EU organic charge large fees to farmers in order to issue the organic certificate, and each year farmers must pay to maintain their certification. For crops where farmers enjoy large margins, the fee is negligible, but for poor cocoa farmers the fee is excessive. For cocoa farmers, neighboring farms that have the organic label get paid market or over-market prices for their crops while farmers who don’t have the certification are discounted. All the while, their crops are growing as “organically” as their neighbors, and with smaller yields because trees must be cared for by hand and individually.
We believe in pure chocolate, close to the source, as nature intended it. So, though we don’t have an “organic” label, we have full confidence that our cocoa is being sustainably raised in the healthiest way possible.
Eventually, we would like to create our own free certification called Naturale (which means “organic” in French) where small farmers with plots less than 100 acres could apply and be evaluated for this certification. This gives consumers a standard they can expect from the product in their hands, and allows small farmers to reap the benefits of that recognition without an unsustainable fee.

What’s your favorite type of chocolate and your favorite chocolate & wine pairing?

Andre likes dark chocolate, not milk or white, and favors the fruitiness of Arriba chocolates; otherwise, he’s had some great chocolate from Madagascar, Malaysia and Venezuela. XO brandies with delicate undertones are perfect pairings for dark chocolates in the 55-70% range or bars with nuts, according to Andre. And Italian digestif cordials are amazing with dark chocolates that contain nuts or fruits, too.

How can I buy your chocolate and are there minimum orders? What if I want just one bar, or, 5,000?

If you’re in or near New York City, retail bars and cooking chocolates can be purchased here. Chefs in the tri-state area may send us an email and we will be happy to meet you with samples and to expedite the delivery of your order. If you have any more questions, please email us at cocoa@arribagold.com. We can talk to you about your needs and what products and quantities would be best.