Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Harper Macaw is a craft chocolate maker headquartered in Washington, DC. They work exclusively with premium Brazilian cacao beans directly sourced from the most acclaimed Brazilian cacao producers. They apply cutting-edge technology - the most advanced equipment/techniques available for the bean to bar process - to traditional European methods targeting the finest chocolate flavor, aroma, and texture possible.
More precisely, H. M. directly source cacao beans from farms in Brazil`s Atlantic and Amazon Rainforests because they have unique and rich flavors and aromas due to the country`s vast and diverse terroir.
It all started thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Samuel Carvalho and Matt Dixon and their passion for chocolate and conservation.
About Samuel, his history in the chocolate industry begins with his grandfather, a Brazilian cocoa producer in the 80’s. He grew up in one of the biggest cacao-producing regions in Bahia, where Harper Macaw sources a large percentage of its beans:
Working with bean-to-bar chocolate brings back memories of the flavors and the smell I grew up within the cacao farms in Brazil.
Samuel sees the craft chocolate industry as a way to promote economic development with sustainable practices. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master’s degree in business management.
About Matt, he is a Culinary Institute of America alumni with a passion for chocolate, pastry, bread, and solving the problems of the world. Matt has over 15 years of experience working in the food and service industry. He loves combining unexpected flavors and watching the look of awe and enjoyment on people's faces. During his time at the CIA, Matt worked for Bryan Voltaggio's Range in Chevy Chase where he made bread, pastries, plated desserts, fresh ice creams, sorbets, and a spread of confections. He finished out his degree as the head confectioner for the CIA's Bocuse restaurant.
Samuel told me:
Our mission is to delight with extraordinary fine flavor, aroma, and texture that enables permanent rainforest restoration as its sources. By linking fine cacao, craftsmanship, and rainforest conservation, we hope to advance the way individuals perceive and experience chocolate. Our C-27 variety received the Cacao of Excellence Award from the Salon de Chocolat in Paris and it was certified one of the 50 best cacao in the world. Our packaging is designed by award-winning local artists. Therefore our chocolate makes a fashion statement.
He also mentioned another important matter:
Rainforest conservation is a key objective woven throughout our vision, mission, culture, and operations. We reinvest a portion of our sales in rainforest restoration and protection near our sources in northeastern Brazil. Through our partner non-profit organization, Instituto Uiraçu, we acquire deforested or threatened land for integration into Reserva Serra Bonita, a private natural heritage reserve and conservation initiative in the heart of the Atlantic Forest. In other words, at Harper Macaw we see the potential for cacao agroforestry and private reserves to facilitate tropical reforestation, and we are thrilled to actualize our vision to forge chocolate into a vessel for ecological restoration, from bean to bar and back to the rainforest!
Their name comes from two beautiful and rare birds that represent their personality and commitment to the health of Brazil`s rainforests:
the harpy eagle, native to the Atlantic Forest, is the largest and most powerful raptor on earth and represents their professional rigor;
the blue hyacinth macaw, native to the Amazon Rainforest, is the largest flying parrot species and represents their sense of vivaciousness.
It goes without saying that they clean, roast, crack, winnow, grind, refine, conche, age, temper, mold, cool, and package their bars with great care to ensure the highest quality products to their costumers.
The single-origin selection is just made of cacao, cane sugar, and cocoa butter ensuring delicious flavor highlighting the specialty of their source. Of course, inclusion options include milk powder or exotic ingredients to tease the most exigent palates.
I cannot fall to express my greatest gratitude for the samples I received:
the Coffee Bar;
the 74% Atlantic Forest Brazil;
the 70% Dark Blend Brazil (International Chocolate Award Winner Bronze 2018).
In conclusion, I want to add my review of their new breakfast blend.
61% Cocoa - Dark Milk Chocolate with Coffee Beans
Cocoa Source: Single Estate - Konagano, Tomé Açu Cocoa Origin: Pará, Brazil Directly Traded
Coffee Source: Pereira Sisters Estate Coffee Origin: Minas Gerais, Brazil
Coffee Roaster: Ceremony Coffee Roasters
Ingredients: cocoa beans, organic whole milk powder, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, and coffee beans.
Until very recently the world viewed cocoa and coffee as mere commodities, indistinguishable in quality. This chocolate bar represents our challenge to that concept and pays homage to these two glorious tropical fruits. To give this chocolate batch a mocha kick, we got our hands on some expertly roasted coffee beans from Ceremony Coffee Roasters of Annapolis, Maryland, and dumped them straight into our cocoa bean grinding process.
Firstly, I love the detailed mold style. Secondly, the rich brown color is very welcoming. I am completely surprised by the extra soft snap and the heavy cookie dough-like mouthfeel. On a brighter note, it leaves a clean-mouthwatering palate. Regarding the taste, I am torn between being enthusiastic about the absolute absence of dairy taste and being cautious about a vivid description of the result of the primary ingredients of this inclusion in terms of flavors. It is packed with intense coffee roast taste on a chocolate-peanut background surrounded by a plain cream cooling character and a light citrusy finish.
I think the Brazil Pereira coffee prevails the scene and reinvigorates your body and mind.
It would be a significant temptation for:
unsweetened (high cacao content) dark-milk lovers;
100% dark chocolate lovers;
Black Coffee geeks.
Personally, I find the tasting experience along with the mouthfeel perhaps too excessive.