Disclaimer: Three Kallari chocolate bars were given to my boyfriend and me by a good friend of mine, who is now a saleswoman for Kallari, with the request that I post an honest review here. They know it's that good.
I was very confused by the packaging of the Kallari Chocolate 75% Cacao bar. "Single Source Organic Chocolate" says the title. It's certified by USDA Organic and by Rainforest Alliance. But where, I wondered, was the chocolate actually from? I was looking for the country name, like on a bag of coffee or a bar of Theo's Chocolate. I was more confused because of the three chocolate bars I had received, only the percentage cacao seemed to differ from bar to bar.
As it turns out, when you actually read the copy on the back, you learn that Kallari (pronounced as in Spanish) sources all of its beans from the same farm cooperative — they aren't an importer and processor of the likes of Scharfen Berger (which is no longer located in Berkeley, much to my chagrin) — from which the bar gets its name. The cooperative, says the box, comprises "850 indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuadorean Amazon", and the box promises that all the profits from the chocolate go to them.
Great, so the chocolate assuages rich liberal guilt. Is it any good? The New York Times rated Kallari's chocolate the only "good" bar out of eight organic and/or fair trade bars. (They describe Theo's, for example, as "acidic, bland, astringent (drying) finish, not worth the calories" and Endangered Species as "sugary, moldy taste, had to spit it out. ... [I]f dogs could eat chocolate, I would have given it to the dog.") And sure enough, Kallari's is one of the better chocolate bars I've had. The texture is quite smooth, but does not particularly melt on the tongue, and the flavors are strong and only lightly sweetened. I picked up various fruit flavors, but I'd have to agree with one reviewer who describes the bar as what a good Red Wine should be like.
In fact, I should continue with the Red Wine analogy. The lack of sugar and the fruitiness, and also the mild tanins and oak in a very good Syrah or Pinot Noir come through. Except the chocolate is not at all boozy. And unlike a Nibs bar, it does not taste of caffeine.
Since I had decided to have the chocolate tonight because I was looking for a snack, I was initially disappointed that it was not sweeter (Scharfen Burger's 80% bar still has more sugar, or perhaps more vanilla?). And I don't think I can read the company name without thinking "calorie". Regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to enjoying the other two bars on other nights.
To read more about Kallari, start with this New York Times article from November of last year.