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Tazo Chocolate

Cacao, yo!
By PHIL AMARA  |  September 14, 2007

The Taza Chocolate founders are a trip. Larry Slotnick is that modern businessman who’d hop on a Segway to mail a letter. Alex Whitmore is the guy who’d totally let you crash at his house for a month. This odd couple was hella busy putting a dream plan in motion — and in February, the dream was realized. Tucked between Inman and Union Squares, Taza’s modest headquarters are space enough to transform massive burlap bags of Dominican Republic cacao beans into something fantastic. Raw beans (which taste sort of like olives) are roasted lightly, then processed on old-school molinos (Mexican-style mills) with stone wheels that you wouldn’t want to drop on your foot. The result is certified organic, single-origin 70-percent- and 80-percent-dark-chocolate bars ($5.95/each) with fruitier notes than the usual dark roast. And the Taza guys wisely steer clear of wacky flavor combos: no caramel-peppercorn or wasabi-walnut here. Neither is there stagnation. Pop their addictive, bite-size, chocolate-covered Colombian cacao nibs ($3.95/two ounces), or sprinkle Shakey chocolate flakes ($9.95/seven ounces) on your favorite premium ice cream.

New and notable to the Taza line is the 100-percent-organic Chocolate Mexicano ($3.50). These cool-looking chocolate hockey pucks weigh in at 2.7 ounces and are meant for concocting supreme mugs of hot chocolate. That’s assuming you can resist munching on chunks of it. Sugar-cane granules contribute to the intriguing texture and mouth feel. What makes the taste experience truly unreal is the Costa Rican cinnamon. Unlike cassia, the faux cinnamon you’re used to, the real stuff is a fragile bark that crumbles even with a delicate touch. Clearly, Whitmore’s extensive chocolate-scouting jaunts around the globe have paid off.

Taza Chocolate is available locally at Darwin’s Ltd, Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Cardullo’s, and other area locations. Visit

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