Ari's Top 5, Good Food

Top Choice New Chocolate Bar from Colombia

Goodnow Farms finds some beautiful cacao beans

I met Tom and Monica Rogan from Goodnow Farms at the Mercantile artisan food show in San Francisco a few years ago. They’ve spent the last decade working around South and Central America to develop a line of direct trade, bean to bar chocolates. The Rogans are working from a two-centuries-plus-old farm in Sudbury, Mass.—it’s located on Goodnow Road, hence the name of the business.

Since the second half of the 19th century the mass market for cacao meant that small scale farmers sold their hand harvested beans to brokers and buyers for big European companies, usually with little say in the low prices that were set by the “market” far away in one of the big cities. In the spirit of connection and overcoming industrial isolation… by connecting the cacao growers to the chocolate that was actually made from their beans, folks like Shawn Askinosie and the Goodnows have helped a whole host of good things happen. Farmers can make the small changes (everything is related) in agricultural work that yield big quality improvements, and get paid more for the cacao in the process. Farm communities become healthier, and you and I get to eat more flavorful chocolate.

This new arrival from Goodnow is made with cacao from the country of Colombia. Tom shared:

Colombia is one of the birthplaces of cacao and we’ve wanted to make a bar for years but hadn’t found beans we liked… until now! It’s an incredible story. Monica and I spent a lot of time meeting many of the farmers who provide cacao for the fermentary and they’re all incredibly happy and proud to be involved. Coca was the main cash crop for this area for many years. In our farm visits we met many farmers who were involved in different ways—it was fascinating to hear about. And it was inspiring to see how they’ve now turned to other crops, including fine flavor cacao. We actually were the first people to buy their cacao for chocolate, and we worked with them to dial in the fermentation and drying protocols. They’d send samples, we’d give notes, they’d change the protocols and send more samples. It took several months for us to get it where it is now but it’s great stuff. Monica just did a “Women in Chocolate” series on our Instagram and she mentioned one of the women farmers, as well as the manager of the fermentery. As with all our bars we craft this with our own cocoa butter, which we press from the same Boyaca beans we use to make the bar.

The flavor of the chocolate, though it has a significant cacao content of 73%, is remarkably delicate and light. Cocoa-ey and compelling. Allison at the Candy Store says, “This 73% bar eats much more like a 63 or 65% with its lack of tannins and bitterness and its gentle fruitiness. It is like the chocolate equivalent of a vinho verde wine; refreshing and light but flavorful and really easy to enjoy.” The Rogans say it has notes of toasted marshmallow, graham cracker, and honey. This reminds me of one of the easiest pairings to put together, and also one of the most delicious: All you need to do is set a bit of one of the chocolates atop a small piece of a Bakehouse Graham Cracker. Bite. Enjoy!

Get Goodnow Colombian bar from the Candy pop-up store

The Goodnow Colombian bar is available at the Candy Store on Plaza Drive. If you’d like us to ship you a couple, email us at [email protected].