Cacao! Bean-to-Bar Comes to Vancouver: East Van Roasters

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Is it worth it to be so fussy about chocolate?

Single-origin chocolate? Wooo, hoo, la-di-fuckin’-da, you hipster!

I’m not a huge fan of sweets or dessert, but I do love some plain dark chocolate once in a while. Maybe a dark chocolate with chili added 😉 I love the single-origin, bean-to-bar concept. You get to taste chocolate in one of its purest forms, without distraction. Doing side-by-side tastings is super fun and you’ll be amazed at the different flavours and sensations going on with chocolate from different regions. One of my few previous experiences with true single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate was Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco (as described in this SF post). Amazing chocolate. So when I learned that Vancouver has its own bean-to-bar chocolate place, East Van Roasters, I had to check it out!

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East Van Roasters is located in the increasingly hipsterized Gastown/Downtown Eastside, just steps away from Pigeon Park (and Pidgin), and right beside Neslon the Seagull.

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I can’t stop taking pictures of signboards and chalkboards!

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Trivia! Reminds me of the coffee shop in Ghost World. Chocolate nerds would totally dig that bag.

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Lots of gift ideas.

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I bought a 3-pack for $18 (single bars are $6.50). The 3-pack contains each of their 70% dark chocolate single-origin bars (Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Peru).

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Other treats. Prices aren’t too bad.

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I might try these sometime but I was just here for straight-up dark chocolate 🙂

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A great stout can combine all these flavours. Maybe that’s why I like dark chocolate so much.

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Not big on coconut though, that’s Wendy’s territory.

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That’s what I’m gonna do at home!

Back at home…

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Here’s the bars! Simple, attractive packaging. I like the choice of card stock. Unfussy, conveys handcraftedness.

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Would you rather give your money to Hershey’s, Nestle or these guys?

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Three ingredients. I love it.

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The chocolate. One nitpicky complaint: the chocolate could have better snap and shine. I think maybe it’s the addition of cocoa butter that makes the texture a bit softer, a bit smoother than say Dandelion Chocolate, who don’t add cocoa butter. But otherwise the chocolate from East Van Roasters tastes amazing!

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Here you can see the difference in the colour. The Dominican Republic is the darkest, the Madagascar the lightest and the Peru somewhere in-between.

Tasting Notes

Wendy dove into the chocolate later that night, in order of light to dark. Her reaction was voluminous:

Madagascar:

  • sour cherry
  • good melt on the tongue
  • chocolatiness is rich and pronounced
  • smooth texture, velvety
  • brings to mind Black Forest Cake

Peru:

  • initial note of citrus
  • also has sour element, probably the most sour of the three chocolates (don’t let that scare you, it’s still chocolate)
  • not as rich or creamy as Madagascar
  • alcoholic/boozy/fermented quality, funky
  • interesting contrast to the other chocolates

Dominican Republic:

  • “I LIKE THIS ONE! WHAT’S…WHAT’S THIS FLAVOUR I’M GETTING? WHAT IS IT??”
  • flavour of sesame, not quite nutty
  • milky coffee
  • creamy
  • least sour, least fruity out of the three
  • Wendy’s favourite

Now for my turn…

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I had to break out something to pair with the special chocolate. Driftwood Belle Royale from 2013. Tart, sour, barrel-aged funkiness. When you’re in the right mood, it’s fantastic.

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It’s very rare that I hold onto a beer for that long. I just sort of forgot about this bottle in the fridge. It’s more than a year old! But I needed a bit more preparation before I tried the chocolate…

Four minutes and 20 seconds later, I tried the chocolate.

I found the chocolates quite sweet, compared to what I remember the Dandelion Chocolate 70% bars being. Especially when paired with the Belle Royale…the tartness in the beer really brought out the sweetness of the chocolate. Wendy loved the level of sweetness, I found it almost too much. But still, HUGE chocolate flavour coming through.

I enjoyed all three chocolates. I found the Dominican Republic to be the “fudgiest”, especially after partaking…it felt like I was biting into a delicious fudge bar…that gorgeous fudgy texture as you bite and squish it between your molars.

I got prunes and cherries from the Madagascar. Definitely the most black forest cakey of the bunch. But my pairing with the sour cherry beer made all of the chocolates taste a bit like black forest cake 😛

The Peru had a definite whiskey note and fermented quality. It was Wendy’s least favourite (but still a favourite) but I loved it. It’s a great contrast to the other two chocolates. Taste the Domincan Republic and Peru right after each other and you’ll notice a huge difference.

I feel so proud that this chocolate is made in Vancouver. I highly recommend it, especially if the idea of a chocolate tasting is foreign to you. It’s so fun to compare and contrast — you’ll be amazed at the subtleties and layers of flavour that come out if you choose to slow down and pay attention to it. It *is* worth it to be fussy about chocolate!

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