Coffee and chocolate are the best of friends, and when I was browsing the shelves of Whole Foods Market in London, there was a beautiful bar of chocolate that cried out for my attention.
The vivid packaging of Chocolate and Love's vegan Dark Chocolate & Coffee bar boasted a Great Taste Award and plenty of flavour, so how could I resist?
The front of the packaging is a feast for the eyes, with hand-drawn depictions of coffee beans and vanilla flowers. A palette of rich browns, greens, and whites really did help this wrapper stand out.
Carefully peel open the outer wrapper and you'll be greeted with background information about Chocolate and Love, including information that a New York artist designs the outers. There's a wealth of information about the Organic certifications for the bar (and therefore the traceability), as well as the origin of the cocoa, tasting tips, information about the Fairtrade scheme and their farmers, as well as a brief history of Chocolate and Love. There's also some information about the 27,000 trees the company has planted.
This bar has awards behind it. While the front of the packaging boasts a Great Taste award in 2017, the website also lists a Great Taste Award in 2015 and 2018, as well as an Academy of Chocolate Award in 2011.
The reverse of the outer wrapper lists the ingredients and nutritional information in English, German, French, and Danish (for Norway and Sweden too).
Chocolate and Love Dark Chocolate & Coffee ingredients:
Cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole cane sugar, coffee (4%), vanilla pods. Minimum cocoa solids 55%.
The ingredients list is kept simple, and the recipe is GMO free as it uses a total of 100% certified organic cocoa, sugar, coffee, and vanilla. The sugar content of this vegan-friendly bar works out at around 41%. There's no preservatives, artificial colours, and no emulsifiers.
The Chocolate and Love website lists this Fairtrade Kosher certified bar of chocolate as suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs.
Inside the paper wrapper is a silver metallised plastic wrapper, although it is imprinted with text that suggests it is biodegradable. There's no chance of neatly opening the heat-sealed wrapper so you'll need to decant the bar into an airtight container or wrap the remainder in a piece of foil to keep it fresh.
I can't recall opening any other chocolate bar to date and immediately picturing a colour so vividly. That colour is green. The initial aroma smells green. More specifically, it's rich with organic notes of grass and hay.
A classic chocolate bar mould has been used, with 24 rectangular segments on offer. There's no guidance on recommended portion size but I found four pieces to be a comfortable figure, equating to around six portions. A good clean snap was music to my ears and made portioning this bar a doddle.
Chocolate and Love describes this bar as "elegant" with a "real but subtle taste of [Arabica] coffee". The aroma I get is of fresh green coffee, far from the heavily roasted and sometimes synthetic coffee flavours used by other manufacturers. It caught me off guard as I was expecting exactly that - a rich, dark coffee bean flavour.
Upon tasting the chocolate, the green coffee notes sat at the front, gently percolating away. As they eased, they made way for the rich yet sweet chocolate to come through.
The blend of cacao in this bar heralds from Peru and the Dominican Republic plantations. Chocolate and Love's information on the bar suggests hints of "red berries" and "slightly acidic notes" in the cocoa. Indeed, I pick up a hint of acidity but couldn't find the red berry characteristics.
The bar contains a sweetness that works well here. The coffee isn't allowed to run away and neither is the bitterness. Everything is in delicate balance.
I really enjoyed this bar and its refreshingly different flavour. The green taste of the coffee together with the robust dark chocolate are paired perfectly. While it was too rich for me to devour in a sitting or two, I did enjoy going back to it time and time again for a cheeky treat.
Do you love coffee and chocolate mixed together in a bar? Or is it something that is always the last to be eaten in your household? Let me know whether it's your cup of joe in the comments below.
Disclosure: I purchased the 80g Chocolate and Love Dark Chocolate & Coffee bar from Whole Foods Market in London for £2.95. I was not asked for a review. My opinions are my own.