Internet celebrity monkey ("i'm small, i'm terry cloth, and i think i have a nice personality!") weighs in on the internet fistfight over luxury chocolate brand Noka (Previous BB post: Link). There's an interesting thread on this over at food forum "chocolateandzucchini" today: Link. Monkey's rebuttal after the jump.
you have certainly touched a nerve for many with your posting about dallasfood.org's noka chocolates exposé! have you tasted them? i have! all of them. of course, i'm no chloe doutre-roussel (author of the chocolate connoisseur), but, i do know my way around a cocao pod. (see photo for proof.)For those of you who doubt monkey's culinary cred: Link.
noka chocolates are distinctively presented in very small servings. (their truffles are half the size of what you would expect a truffle to be.) they cater to a niche market that is about the total package. those i have given their chocolate to have been more impressed with the presentation than the contents. for the serious chocolate aficionado, their single origin chocolates are of good quality and are worth a nibble, but, probably won't engender any brand loyalty.
as far as the hype goes, the stores that carry their chocolates would have you think that they handpick the cocao pods, dry them on silk cushions under teak cabanas, lovingly carry the beans home in padded cased on their own first class seats, roast each bean individually and conch the nibs to the sound of a string quartet that has composed pieces for the occasion. on the other hand, if asked noka will tell you that they source the chocolate, temper it and make the chocolates and truffles.
dallasfoods.org expose was extensive, but, not impartial. the writer's answer to the question "what's noka worth" is his opinion. unfortunately, we know nothing about the writer's qualifications or background to know if his opinion carry's any weight. for what it's worth, here's my opinion. if you're the kind of person who is content tucking into a caburry dairy milk, noka is not the chocolate for you. if you are into chocolate and want to give your tastebuds a little work out, they are worth a try. if you like the status of buying expensive items with an aura of exclusivity you have found your chocolate! at least until the next challenger enters the ring.
Reader comment: Subspace says,
As much as I'd like to support our friend monkey, I'm afraid the 'rebuttal' is directly contrary to the facts presented in the article and not a rebuttal at all.BB reader Cayden rebuts the rebuttal of the rebuttal:
monkey states that "...if asked noka will tell you that they source the chocolate, temper it and make the chocolates and truffles..." The dallasfood.com article goes to great lengths to demonstrate that that is precisely what Noka will not do -- they repeatedly imply that they "make" or process the chocolate, which seems to be half of the article's entire point.
Additionally, monkey says that the article is merely the opinion of dallasfood.com. The actual content of the article attempts to provide demonstrable evidence for the reader that it is not the opinion of the writer that the mark-up of Noka's product is worth what they are charging. His language is reserved and often open-ended instead of stating personal conclusions - I myself would have labeled it 'criminal' on page 1.
The writer makes several gestures to assure the reader that his taste-testing finale is purely of his own opinion, yes, but his thorough demonstration of chocolatier translucency and currently world prices for chocolate seem to show with impartiality that Noka is, as he concludes, not worth it.
If monkey would like to pay for "exclusivity" than of course he is welcome to. On the other hand, the public service of an expose regarding deceptive "luxury" goods is commendable, in particular in a society of foodies who are ever increasingly investing in whatever single-origin/organic/artisanal product is hyped to them. As for the writer's qualifications, shouldn't we be asking was Noka's qualifications for making chocolate are first?
Wait, wait. Dallas Food asked the question, "Is Noka worth it?" Clearly the answer is yes, at least to a significant number of consumers. The author mentions he noticed their website two whole years ago. Doesn't this ostensibly mean they've been doing decent (if not good) business since then?
Sure, the issues of misdirection and exorbitant markup without any added-value due to Noka's processing are important for some consumers to think about. But it's clear to me that some consumers just *don't* care. They're buying a prestige product. This is a kind of market failure that is discussed in any introductory economics course.
So I think that the question here is rather an economic one than a culinary one: Dallas Food has made plain that some of Noka's practices are shady, or maybe just silly, but the fact remains that some consumers think Noka *is* worth it, whether they have deceived themselves about Noka's quality, or merely because they *like* paying top dollar for a fairly standard product, just because they think it looks better.