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Mass Review: Equal Exchange Chocolate

A few months back I reviewed a trio of bars from Equal Exchange, a company that is dedicated to Fair Trade sugar, coffee, and (joy of joys) chocolate. They deliver a product of the highest quality and they adhere to high principles. And they have new chocolate in the pipeline for everybody! Coming this fall there are three new bars of organic, fair trade chocolate coming our way and I (through their unending kindness) am lucky enough to have the opportunity to try them early! The new varieties are Organic Dark Chocolate with Pure Cocoa Nibs, Organic Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Organic Mint Chocolate. Their first three bars were very nice so I’ve got high hopes for these new ones.

Organic Dark Chocolate with Pure Cocoa Nibs

This is a no-brainer for me. I love dark chocolate and I love nibby dark chocolate even more. The bar smells sweet. It is a sweet lightly fruity cocoa aroma and is very nice. The taste is sweet and not very bitter and the 68% cocoa chocolate itself is very smooth (which is equally true of all of the Equal Exchange chocolate I’ve tried). It is sweet and bright with a slight sour note and a smoky finish and a wonderful crunch from the nibs. Very nice, though not as bitter as I like my dark chocolate.

Organic Chocolate Espresso Bean
Another bar with a crunch! For a company that does both coffee and chocolate this is a natural choice. It’s studded with espresso beans and boy oh boy does it pack a punch. It even smells strong. The chocolate – with a 55% cocoa content - almost takes a back seat to the espresso but it’s there and it mellows the coffee edge. I can’t comment much on the chocolate because this bar really is all about the espresso and from the first whiff of the aroma to the finish and lingering on even after that it’s all espresso with some chocolate along for the ride.

Organic Mint Chocolate
Leaving the bars with the crunchy stuff in them behind we move on to our final treat. You open the package and you know you are dealing with mint. The smell reminds me of one of those Andes mints you get after dinner or on your pillow at a hotel. The first bite brought with it lots of minty flavor and a big surprise – more crunch! A quick look at the ingredients makes it clear that the name of the bar doesn’t tell the whole story. The mint comes in the form of “peppermint crisps” – basically sugar and peppermint oil. It adds a sugar grain and crunch to the bar that is fantastic (I love the crunch of sugary candies). And the mint is strong without being overpowering. The chocolate – a 67% cocoa dark –is very nice and is a perfect complement to the sweet mint crisps. This bar is another winner in my book with a great texture and a great flavor.

Thoughts
The second round of bars from Equal Exchange have turned out to be just as nice as the first round and are a great expansion to their product line. I’ll go on record as giving the Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs an 8.5, the Chocolate Espresso Bean an 8.25, and the Mint Chocolate an 8.75. And that is ignoring the Fair Trade aspect and the fact that they’re all organic. If you are interested in trying their products and don't have a local source they have a page set up with info on convincing a local business to carry their products. Finally, I want to thank Equal Exchange for the samples - I'm enjoying them greatly.

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Greg Said:

Yup - these along with one other are my best bars - and I have gone through most of them at this point. Great consistent taste from beginning to end - and not as hard on the body as some chocolate is.

BTW - I am only talking about upper end chocolate (Hershey?? Who is Hershey?)



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