Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter, coffee
I bought Claudio Corallo's chocolate covered coffee beans after trying one in the store and liking it, but also in no small part because I was about to take a road trip and thought they might be a good way to stay awake. Fortunately I wasn't driving when I opened the box, as it turned out to be a bit more complicated than just a bag of candy: Nestled in the box were three neatly rolled cellophane bags labeled CAT 1, BB 2, and NM 3, and a full-size piece of paper printed on the front and back. An intriguing start, to say the least.
In brief, the note explains that the three bags contain three different coffee varieties—CAT, BB, and NM—and though all are Arabica, from the same plantation, and covered in the same 55% cacao chocolate, the flavors of the three types of beans are distinct, offering a sort of tasting adventure. Instructions recommend that tasters try the chocolate in the order given, and describe the sensations that should come across.
CAT is expected to hit with a strong punch and then vanish with little lingering coffee flavor, and I that is indeed how I experienced it. The bean has the bitter flavor I associate with a darker roast (mind you, I'm no coffee connoisseur), a contrast with the sweet chocolate on the outside. Once I swallow it, the coffee is virtually gone, with just a hint remaining from anything stuck in my teeth. (How's that for an appetizing image?)
According to the note, BB should taste only of chocolate at first, with coffee then arriving “sweet,” “delicate,” and “with extraordinary persistence,” sticking around “longer than the chocolate.” That sounds about right: To me, this confection tastes mellow, sweet, and creamy, more melded with the chocolate than the CAT was, and with a long aftertaste. It's like a good, rich mocha drink.
The NM is less vividly described, only as a “rare equilibrium” and “unique experience that will linger.” To my taste it's both less and more interesting than the other two: While the CAT was a bit harsh and the BB very enjoyable in an easy way, the NM seems more delicate but also subtly pleasant, like a mocha I could drink every day without being over-bittered (CAT) or riched-out (BB). I'm not sure that's what Claudio Corallo was getting at, but I will say that for general snacking, NM is my favorite of the three.
Of course, I can't forget the chocolate! I like it because it's thankfully non-shellacked, more soft chocolate than hard gloss, which I think matches much better with a crispy coffee bean than the common shiny coating. The flavor might be a bit sweet for me personally—I'm tasting more cream and sugar than deep fruit—but I do think that if it were more than 60-70% cacao it wouldn't balance the coffee well, and I'd allow that even 70% might be too dark to highlight the distinctions among the beans.
What really struck me about this set of chocolate covered coffee beans is that it engenders an interactive experience (review blog or no) and that I found the predictions borne out even by my only semi-sensitive palate. Very cool.
Conclusion: Claudio Corallo 3 Locuras de Cafés com Chocolate is a unique, guided tasting experience.