Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Potomac Chocolate - Upala 70%

This is a great day for the World of Chocolate blog! I'm absolutely delighted to be featuring a selection of bars from Potomac Chocolate, based in Woodbridge, VA, just outside Washington DC. This is our first example of a 'bean to bar' artisan chocolate from across the pond. 

Ben Rasmussen is Potomac Chocolate and has been operating since 2010 and is the first b2b chocolate maker in this area. By the sound of it he is the chief chocolate maker, accountant and general bottle washer! Working from a small workshop, Ben makes fine chocolate using traditional artisan methods. Hand-crafting every bar, working to bring out the best flavours from the cacoa bean throughout every step of the process from roasting, cracking and winnowing the cocoa beans, refining and conching, to tempering and moulding the final bars. Interestingly he keeps other ingredients down to the bare minimum with no added vanilla, cocoa butter or emulsifier. 

Ben is currently using organic, fair trade beans from Upala, Costa Rica. The chocolate does not carry an ethical label but he is very concerned that the cacao growers receive fair prices and hopes to be able to work more closely and more directly with growers in the not-too-distant future. Continuing on the green theme Ben is currently working on new packaging that will be fully biodegradable and compost-able. Personally I have no problem with the cellophane wrapper that has been used and I like the clean finish of the label. Ben can you explain why you chose a fish logo?

Upala 70%
The Chocolate: This is the first of three bars to be features and the first bar, Upala 70%, was entered into the Good Food Awards. Ben was fairly realistic about its chances, as they'd only just started and didn't expect to get very far. However, call it beginners luck his chocolate was selected to join the final 16! To read more about the Good Food Awards click here

The chocolate is beautifully presented and has a fantastic shine. The initial aroma is a light tobacco aroma with hints of the forest. There is a great snap as you break off each chunk. The mould they've used makes it a little awkward to break but I do like the originality. There is an instant fruity taste of berry which is strong and long lasting. There is also a quality about this chocolate that I can only describe as 'zingy'. It is almost a sparkling sensation which I can't quite fathom out. The finish is slightly dry with a hint of tobacco in the background.

This is a very, very enjoyable bar of chocolate and it has some interesting surprises in terms of taste and flavour. His hard work and perseverance has produced a delicious piece of chocolate and I'm sure over time this will improve further. For that reason I'm happy to give this bar a score of 8/10. It currently retails at $7.00 for 57g which translates to £4.34, which  puts it in the Amedei price range. Maybe we will see it in Selfridges soon?

If you can't wait for Selfridges and you want to buy this bar click here. You can now buy this bar in the UK from our friends at Chocadores, £4.95 plus p&P.


  1. Great post Christine, Ben is truely a talented bean to bar chocolate maker:)
    Sarah - Chocadores

  2. Thank you.....interesting to see that he is getting a lot of press at the moment. Interviewed by 70% no less!