I'm a big fan of both organic foods and the Fair Trade movement so when a company comes along that sells organic Fair Trade chocolate I tend to get a bit excited. Equal Exchange are a company dedicated to delivering gourmet quality organic Fair Trade foods (links at the bottom of the review) including coffee, tea, sugar, and (most importantly) chocolate and they were nice enough to send along some samples. So today we have their Milk Chocolate with Ground Hazelnuts bar, Dark Chocolate with Almonds bar, Very Dark Chocolate bar, and their Dark Chocolate Minis up for review.
Milk Chocolate with Ground Hazelnuts
First thing I noticed upon opening this bar was the organic chocolate smell. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't know what it is, but I can smell something different about organic chocolate and I've yet to find an organic chocolate without it. So the organic smell is there. The chocolate itself is very smooth and some of that organic smell is present in the taste. The hazelnuts are really not a major component of the taste, but you can tell that they're there. I'm not a big fan of milk chocolate but I really like this bar. The only other organic milk chocolate I've tried so far is Green and Black's and while I enjoyed it I definitely prefer this. I usually only get milk chocolate with stuff in and this is one I would go for even though it only has a hint of hazelnut to it.
Dark Chocolate with Almonds
Ok, this is more my speed. I do love dark chocolate and I do love almonds. The aroma is somewhat sweet and the organic smell is there along with a hint of berries. The taste is very nice. With the sweetness in the aroma I was worried it would be too sweet but the sweetness isn't too much. There is a nice tangy fruity note to it as well and just like the milk chocolate it is wonderfully smooth. And it is chock full of almonds. I really like this bar a lot and would definitely repeat.
Very Dark Chocolate
I anticipated this to be the main event. I love dark chocolate with a high cocoa mass. This bar clocks in with 71% and that is right in my favored range. The gloss on this one is beautiful and the snap is good with a clean break. The aroma is very nice. It has a spice to the aroma that I can't place. A dark and spicy sweetness. I can't figure out what beyond that (darn my undeveloped senses). Just like the other bars the chocolate in this is very smooth. It melts beautifully. The flavor starts off bright and acidic eventually giving way to a fruity tang. It’s not the most complex chocolate I’ve had but it is pleasant and not overly bitter and, as I said, it is very smooth.
Dark Chocolate Minis
It’s a pretty little thing. Well formed with a nice gloss. It doesn’t snap quite so nice as the Very Dark Chocolate, but it’s really tasty stuff. It’s sweet and smooth with a light fruity tang and a makes a nice two-bite treat. It isn’t overly complex connoisseur chocolate but it is really good and very enjoyable. Interestingly, I don’t taste the organic taste so much in these.
All three of the bars were good and the Minis are great little treats as well. I’d rate the Very Dark a 7.5, the Milk Chocolate an 8 and the Dark Chocolate with Almonds and the Minis an 8.5. They are all very good and you get the added bonus of buying Fair Trade Organic products. The only bad part is that I haven’t found them locally anywhere. Hopefully this will change. I’d really like to be able to get these at my local Whole Foods or Wild Oats but so far no dice (though I may have seen them at Jungle Jim's). Chocosphere doesn’t have them and the Equal Exchange web site only does wholesale quantities so this is one of those situations where if you want to try it you will probably need to pester your local retailers and see if they’ll start carrying their products.
What is Fairtrade?
Fair Trade at Equal Exchange