Chocolate tasting innovations with Firetree –
Firetree is a brand of chocolate with a pretty unique selling point: their cocoa comes from areas of volcanic nature. They are mainly distant exotic paradises located in the “ring of fire”, the remote circle of the South Pacific and Oceania of 452 volcanoes (either submerged or forming beautiful tropical islands).
This is where the fire tree, or cocoa tree, with its flame-colored pods originates and grows. The fire tree thrives on the rich, porous volcanic soil found on these islands.
It’s here and a few other places around the world like the volcanic island of Madagascar, where the brand sources its cocoa from. Beyond the soil itself, it is the know-how of local farmers that really makes the difference in the quality and result of the harvest.
Much like the grapes used in winemaking, the cocoa beans from each estate associated with the fire tree have their own unique taste. Each variation they produce only uses cocoa from a single estate or farm.
In addition, instead of dealing with farmers through agents, the company goes directly to them by guaranteeing a fair price (often above the market rate) and ensuring that farmers have the opportunity to provide for their families and commit to high agricultural standards that make them excellent cocoa. .
Bars available in the UK are excellent and available in two sizes (25 and 65g), either through the company’s online store or through the Holland & Barrett chain. The options are seven single-estate grape varieties ranging from 69% to 100% cocoa, and subscriptions or multi-pack boxes are also available.
Foodepedia, already familiar with its usual varieties, was invited to an online tasting to present its Innovations Collection.
This included five 65g bars – Hispaniola, Dominican Republic 72% cocoa; Indonesia, island of Seram 72% cocoa; Vanuatu, Malekula Island, 100% cocoa; Vanuatu, Malekula Island 72% cocoa and cocoa nibs and Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal Oat Bar.
The tasting event was well organized and very informative and entertaining. Each chocolate was preceded by a visual aid explaining the terroir and also presenting the farmers for each specific pod, highlighting the differences in pod type and taste.
We started with a surprisingly sweet Solomon Islands oat bar, Guadalcanal, a perfect milk chocolate bar for those with lactose intolerance as it is made with oat milk.
The coast of Guadalcanal, nestled in the heart of the Solomon Islands, is home to some of the best cocoas in this region. Cocoa trees grow in this rich volcanic soil, protected from the midday sun under tall coconut palms. This bar revealed a smooth finish with the buttery richness of toasted oats.
Then we moved to another tropical paradise, Vanuatu. Almost all of the cocoa grown in Vanuatu comes from one island: Malekula. This sparsely populated island is a two day boat trip from the capital of Port Vila.
There are two Malekula bars in the Innovations collection, the first one we tried is 72% with cocoa beans, perhaps our favorite of the whole night. The feathers add a delicious crunch to the rich and fruity dark chocolate.
The 100% bar we tasted was surprisingly ‘sweet’ and with an extremely pleasant aftertaste compared to many 100% bars which are sort of inedible on their own!
We stayed in the South Pacific with the next bar, an Indonesian Seram Island wrapped in 72% bright orange color. Nestled in the seas of the southern Moluccas, this island’s chocolate has a pleasant blend of cocoa, tomatoes, nuts, molasses and floral notes with a truly creamy finish.
For the last bar, we traveled to the Caribbean to one of the main cocoa producers in the region: the Dominican Republic. Here is the Trinitario bean that is harvested, different from the species cultivated in Asia.
The 72% Hispaniola bar is intense and showcases flavors of brown fruit, with hints of spicy red fruit and a hint of green banana and a coffee aroma.
Most of the tasting guests said they hoped these bars would be part of the regular collection, and so did we. They are beautiful chocolates and the box itself is elegant and well presented while the packaging is beautifully designed, which also makes it a great gift for any chocolate lover (Â£ 33 for the box of 5 bars).