Our main ingredient is cacao.
We are unapologetically dark in that we are serious about our chocolate and strive to make true dark chocolate. Our chocolate is true in that when we say our chocolate is 80% Cacao it literally means that 80% of the amount used to make the chocolate is cacao and the rest is either sugar or depending on the flavor a minuscule amount of another whole ingredient, so mainly cacao.
We do not add any extra cocoa butter besides the cocoa butter that the bean itself already contains, and we do not add any emulsifiers, such as soy lecithin. Chocolate should be pure, which is why we try to keep it simple with only a couple ingredients. No dairy, no gluten, just pure chocolate.
Given that I am in constant pursuit of purity, this place was automatically added to the vacation itinerary.
So off we went and drove an hour up the mountain to the quaint community of Idyllwild-Pine Cove.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Jessica, half of the founding husband and wife duo, who was behind the counter attending to customers. The shop was hopping with people coming through for their chocolate fix in the form of bars, confections, and drinks.
Jessica took the time to introduce me to their diverse selection of bars, while her husband Erik was engaged with my daughter and handed her a dried cacao pod to check out. What a trusting fellow as my daughter has not yet mastered the art of sharing and has been known to “adopt” things as her own once they are placed in her hands. Those of you with children may be familiar with what I’m talking about, ha.
Erik and Jessica shared their travel experiences going to origin and showed us pictures from their recent trip to El Salvador. It was great to see how they make an effort to regularly travel to meet the farmers from whom they source their beans, all of whom practice fair labor which ensures there is no slave labor and that the farmers earn a good living wage.
Sounds great and all, right? The real question is whether all of this effort amounts to a quality product.
I must say that I was pleasantly impressed with all the chocolate I sampled from their 82% made with cacao from Tupi South Cotabato, Philippines, 82% Semuliki Forest, Uganda, 100% cacao from Tabasco, Mexico, and Ghost 80% Tabasco Mexico Blend. It seems as though this couple is able to turn every type of cacao they work with into gold! Their chocolate really highlighted the unique aspects of each bean. Talk about a noteworthy accomplishment!
It was hard to say which of the bars I liked best as they were all special for their distinct flavors. However, this was my first experience sampling chocolate made with beans from Uganda and I was quite impressed! I was treated to a beautiful array of mouthwatering flavors, such as dried cherries and Brazil nuts, prior to being lavished in rich cocoa.
Furthermore, their bar with Ghost pepper had a definite kick - just what I’ve been looking for in a bar with pepper. I have no idea how many Scoville heat units this bar would rank at, but I would not recommend it if you don’t have a palate for capsaicin. But if you do, it makes for the perfect chocolate pick me up!
El Buen Cacao is a MUST for dark chocolate lovers. If you aren’t a dark chocolate fan, you should still give them a try. Their chocolate may very well convert you!
P.S. Erik did manage to get his cacao pod from my daughter. The bait and switch with a book technique worked wonders!
Check out their website: https://elbuencacao.co/