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Coffee

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Coffee Beat

As is often the case when I’m buying Japanese candy at Mitsuwa, I wasn’t quite sure what these were. Some good pictures on the package are always helpful and I figured that these were just coffee flavored chocolate shaped like coffee beans. They are, and so much more.

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The candies come in a sassy cardboard tube (wrapped in plastic to keep them fresh). The name, coffeebeat is in English, as I believe that the word ‘coffee’ is pretty recognizable in the Japanese market. The font is funky and reminds me of the ‘70s. Inside the tube are little coffee bean shaped (but slightly larger) chocolate candies with a hard candy shell like an M&M. They even have the little crease on the flat side like a real coffee bean.

The shell is sweet and crunchy and very thin. The center is chocolate with strong milky flavor to it and of course a hit of coffee. It tastes like a mocha. Sweet, smooth, milky and with an excellent coffee flavor that doesn’t feel like a “flavor.” In fact, it’s less chocolate than it is coffee - the chocolate is just a medium to deliver the milky coffee flavor. If you’re a black coffee person, I can see that this might not be the coffee candy for you.

The package is cute, makes it easy to share and the quality is very good. Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the Meiji brand. The products are well priced, use quality ingredients, have logical yet innovative packaging and of course they all taste great. The website seems to indicate they’re for kids, but maybe I’m just a kid at heart.

Name: Coffeebeat
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Meiji
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa (Little Tokyo)
Price: $1.29
Size: 1.23 ounces
Calories per ounce: 155
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Meiji, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:07 pm     Comments (19)

Mauna Loa Macadamia Kona Coffee Bar

It’s coffee day here at CandyBlog.net. Yes, I’ve got jetlag and I need lots and lots of caffeine. So in between sips of the regular liquid kind and some Black Black gum, I thought I’d review some coffee flavored chocolate candies.

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I found this bar at the checkout counter at Target. There are a few varieties of the new Mauna Loa foray into consumer chocolate, but I thought that they knew their macadamias and of course Kona is known for their coffee. How could I go wrong?

This is a smooth and sweet dark chocolate bar with macadamia nuts and coffee. The bar has four domed segments each with some nice small bits of macadamias scattered evenly on the bottom of the bar. In this form I get the macadamia taste, but the texture is more like coconut. That’s not a bad thing. Then the coffee kick comes in. It’s mostly a chocolate flavor, but when you hit the coffee grounds, it’s definitely a good mellow coffee flavor.

But here’s the thing, and I mentioned it yesterday when reviewing the Dolfin cafe tasting squares ... I don’t want the coffee grounds. I don’t put up with coffee grounds in my actual coffee, why do I want them in my chocolate? Well, they do add fiber. This bar has 3 grams of fiber. (It also has 9 grams of saturated fat.)

Overall, it’s too sweet for me. I want a little darker, richer chocolate with my coffee essences. The macadamias add a great nutty flavor and texture to it, and though I’d never drink a macadamia/chocolate flavored coffee, I will eat a macadamia and coffee studded chocolate. I’m vaguely curious about their milk chocolate and might pick that bar up at some future visit to Target. I do actually appreciate Target’s wide selection of candies at the check out that include more than the standard fare of Hershey’s, Mars and Nestle and at 99 cents, it’s only slightly more expensive than the regular bars.

Name: Macadamia Kona Coffee Dark Chocolate Bar
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mauna Loa
Place Purchased: Target
Price: $.99
Size: 1.76 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Nuts, United States, Hershey's, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:12 am     Comments (5)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dolfin Variety Tasting Squares

I was on a kick to find the Dolfin Peppercorn bar and stopped at the same liquor store that my husband bought the previous assortment. No luck. But they did have this assortment of tasting squares that I picked up.

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There are 24 squares in the package, 12 flavors.

Cafe Noir - dark chocolate with coffee bean bits. I’m kind of tired of the whole idea of throwing something that I generally regard as garbage in my chocolate. There are ways of getting coffee flavor into my chocolate without putting the actual beans in there.
Cafe Lait - sweet and milky but not a lot of coffee flavor to it, more cinnamon than I would have liked.
Au Lait - Nice, milky and sweet but lacking a real chocolate punch.
Lait Cannelle - milk chocolate with real cinnamon in it. Lots and lots of real cinnamon chips. The whole chips give a good sweet and spicy feel to the chocolate, but it all seems just a tad sweet. The scent, however, is absolutely mouthwateringly good and I’d like a perfume made of it.
Noir 88% - beautiful snap and creamy mouth feel without being chalky. Light and smoky with a good bitter and dry finish.
Noir 70% - sweeter and more buttery than the 88%, good chocolate kick, less dry but still nicely astringent.
Noir 52% - mellow and smoky with a really creamy base to it. Not bitter but not as smooth as it could be. When tasting their pure chocolate, I’ve come to believe that it’s just not as smooth as some of the other Belgian and European varieties I’ve tried.
Noir Nougatine (shown above unwrapped) - dark chocolate with hard nougat pieces (like a Toblerone). The dark chocolate is sweet and smooth and the nougat bits provide a nice little honey sweet break in the chocolate.
Lait Nougatine - very sweet, which keeps the nougat bits from popping out as well as they do on the Noir.
Orange - wonderful, great buttery chocolate with a good aromatic hit of orange, probably my favorite in this batch.
Citron - dark chocolate with the slightest hint of sweet lemon. It’s not zesty, just a pleasant aromatic feel to the chocolate.
Earl Grey - dark chocolate with black tea and bergamot. I didn’t really get a strong sense of the flavor here, just a black tea earthy flavor. There was a little grit because of the real tea leaves.

I think I prefer chocolate that comes in a slightly thicker piece. These very thin tasting wafers seem just slightly chalky to me and I’d prefer something with a bit more tooth to it.

I’m still looking forward to the Pink Peppercorn and Anise bars (which I ordered from Chocosphere) but I think I may prefer Dagoba and Lake Champlain as an overall brand to Dolfin.

Name: 24 Chocolats de Degustation
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Dolfin
Place Purchased: Silverlake Liquor (on Silverlake Blvd. - LA)
Price: $5.99
Size: 3.76 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Belgium, Dolfin

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:22 am     Comments (3)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Java Bark

I bought this tin of Java Bark on sale just after Christmas from Crate & Barrel. At only $4.50, marked down from $15.00, I couldn’t resist. Besides, I was buying some Mint Cookie Joys, so the shipping was a done deal.

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I wasn’t quite sure what Java Bark was going to be, and it’s not quite what I was expecting. I didn’t know if was going to be chocolate or toffee or good. And it was none of those things.

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Basically it’s a sweet coffee flavored “chocolate” with chocolate cookie chunks in it sprinkled with a coffee powder and then drizzled with some white chocolate. They’re cut into squares (about 2”) and individually wrapped. Then they’re tucked into a pretty oval tin.

Did I mention the tin is really pretty?

The little plastic wraps are incredibly hard to open for some reason, which leads me to believe that these are not made by Harry London, who made the Mint Cookie Joys, because those little cello sleeves were easy to open.

Once open the squares have a very sweet, coffee smell to them. The “chocolate” has a rather graham flavor to it, a bit grainy and after looking at the label, I see that it’s not really chocolate at all. The cookie bits are firm and crunchy and actually really good, mostly because they add a dash of salt to the sweet and chalky combination. The coffee powder (coffee grounds) gives the whole thing and unpleasant grain but a good boost of flavor.

The nicest thing about these is that I can bring them to work and set the tin out and no one will think I’ve pawning off Christmas candy on them. And that’s just what I’m going to do. I’ve gotta make room for the Valentine’s sale candy.

Name: Java Bark
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Crate & Barrel
Place Purchased: Crate & Barrel (online)
Price: $4.50
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: Cookie, Coffee, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:22 am     Comments (11)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Niederegger Capuccino Marzipan

I hardly thought it was possible, but I found a marzipan I actually like. (See, I didn’t give up.)

imageThis is a beautiful bar, it’s dark and glossy and has a wonderful rich aroma of smoky coffee and chocolate.

The chocolate is good quality, slightly bitter but smooth and the center is a different kind of marzipan. It’s not the ultrafine paste that you find in some of the sculpted varieties. Instead this one has palpable bits of almond in it and a darker color (because of the coffee flavoring). There’s also only the slightest hint of amaretto, which is the actual thing I don’t like about marzipan. I love almonds, I just don’t like the “flavor” of almonds.

The bar doesn’t really have much of a capuccino flavor, but a pleasing scent and creamy quality that I found really compelling.

I doubt these are widely available, but I noticed that Cost Plus had quite a variety of this brand (they were on sale for the After Christmas clearance) so I might give their actual plain marzipan a try in the future or perhaps the Orange I saw on this site.

Interesting fact: Niederegger was founded by Johann Georg Niederegger on March 1, 1806 ... that means they’re going to celebrate their bicentennial of marzipan in a few scant months. Happy Birthday Niederegger!

Related Candies

  1. Niederegger Marzipan Orange
  2. Soubeyran Array
  3. Queen Anne Orange
  4. Hachez Chocolates
  5. Orange KitKat
Name: Marzipan Cappuccino
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Niederegger
Place Purchased: Cost Plus World Market
Price: $1.89
Size: 3.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 143
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Coffee, Germany

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:02 pm     Comments (3)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hachez Chocolates

Name: Bits ‘n Fits and Bits ‘n Mints
Brand: Hachez
Place Purchased: candy exchange!
Price: unknown
Size: 1.1 ounce
Calories per ounce: unknown
Type: Chocolate

I got a wondeful package last week from a reader, Michal, in Israel. (I sent her some stuff too, but sadly it has not arrived yet.) It was a huge box of all sorts of goodies that will take me about a month to savor properly (and photograph & review, fear not!).

The first grouping I have is from Hachez, which is a German chocolate company that’s been around since 1880. These (except for the dark chocolate one) are from their Cocoa de Maracaibo line. It’s an exceptionally rich milk chocolate that boasts 55% cacao from Venezuela. In the States the government says that you only need to have 10% cocoa solids to call your concoction Milk Chocolate. In Europe that standard is at least 25% cocoa solids. Even most semi-sweet chocolates don’t have 55% cocoa solids in them!

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The most amazingly cool things are their “Bits” tins. The tin shape might be a bit familiar to some folks as it seems to be identical to those that hold “Hint Mints” that can be found at places like Cost Plus World Market and coffee shops everwhere. The neat thing about the Hint Mints is that the curved tin makes it easy to keep in a pocket. You don’t really wanna do that with a tin full of chocolate. But it’s a really elegant way to be social with your chocolate when you pull one of these out and offer a little chocolate nibble to a friend or someone you want to impress.

The dense milk chocolate for the Bits ‘n Mints is a little different. I wouldn’t call it waxy, but it doesn’t yield immediately. It sits on the tongue as it warms than then suddenly melts into a consistent puddle. It’s probably because there’s less fat in it than I’m used to in a milk chocolate. It takes a moment for it to come to body temperature, then it’s very smooth. I mean, really smooth. It’s literally like butter with a wonderful rich chocolate taste (very little milk taste to it) and a good cooling mint essence.

The Bits ‘n Fits are unlike anything else I’ve had before and pure little pebbles of delight. The outside is the same milk chocolate but the center is a mix of amazing roasted flavors. Inside is what I can only call a hazelnut toffee with a huge boost of coffee flavor. A warning though, the package says that not only does it have 1% espresso powder, it also contains 1% guarana, which is a cousin of caffeine except more expensive. I don’t know what that makes the “speed” content of this candy but at a little more than 1 ounce, you probably can’t go too wrong. They’re sweet and have a combination of textures that makes me wish they sold them around here.

Name: Longs - Cocoa de Maracaibo Classic & Espresso and Cocoa d’Arriba Orange
Brand: Hachez
Place Purchased: candy exchange!
Price: found online for about $1.49 each
Size: 1.3 ounces each
Calories per ounce: unknown
Type: Chocolate

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Cocoa de Maracaibo Classic - like the Bits ‘n Mints, this bar was incredibly buttery without being oily. The first ingredient for Hachez’s milk chocolate is not sugar, not butter and not milk solids, it’s Cocoa Butter. My favorite butter! The milk solids come in at 18% so there’s very little room for sugar in there. The milk flavors are much more evident in this bar than the Mints or the Espresso bar below. The milky flavor is very European like a much smoother, refined version of a Cadbury.

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Cocoa de Maracaibo Espresso - similarly smooth and slick tasting, this bar has an intense burst of espresso flavor. Actually, don’t think of it as flavor as in something that comes out of a bottle, it tastes like freshly ground coffee smells.

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Cocoa d’Arriba Orange - This particular Longs falls under the Cocoa d’Arriba line, which is 77% cacao chocolate from Ecuador. The bar smells like a combination of orange rinds and dark cocoa. With all the cocoa solids in this bar, there’s very little room for sugar. The bar is certainly chocolate with a substantial bitter bite but no real acidity or dryness that some bars have. It has woodsy flavors and of course the intense orange essence. I really liked this bar but probably couldn’t eat as much of it as I could with the Cocoa de Maracaibo bars.

I’ve seen some of the Hachez product in stores before and I hope they make a bigger run at the American market. I think this Cocoa de Maracaibo is unlike most other mid-density chocolate available right now.  It’s rich without being too dense and retains all the wonderful qualities of the cocoa butter that so many high-end chocolate seem to sacrafice for that high cacao percentage.

I also have to commend Hachez for their website. Though it doesn’t break out info on all their products individually, they do have an English version and the photography and additional pages are really wonderful.

Ratings: Bits ‘n Mints and Bits ‘n Fits - 9 out of 10
Cocoa de Maracaibo Classic & Espresso - 8 out of 10
Cocoa d’Arriba Orange - 8 out of 10

Related Candies

  1. Hachez Edel Vollmilch Nuss (Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts)
  2. Domori Cru
  3. Niederegger Marzipan Orange
  4. York Mints
  5. Cafe Tasse: Orange, Extra Noir & Noir Praline

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:15 am     CandyReviewHachezChocolateCoffeeToffee8-Tasty9-YummyGermanyComments (2)

Friday, November 4, 2005

Head to Head: Target vs Trader Joe’s

Everyone’s talking about Choxie. Probably half of you reading this right now are here because of a Google search for Choxie. Under a huge marketing blitz, Target is running national commercials that feature go-go dancers extolling “Cha-cha-cha Choxie. Chocolate with Moxie!” They’re having free tastings this weekend (Sunday, November 6th from 1-5 PM at all locations).

A couple of weeks ago my husband picked up some new candy at Trader Joe’s called “Slate of Bliss.” Very cool, I thought. Then I went to Target and saw the SAME thing under their Choxie label called simply “Thin.” As Trader Joe’s is well known for their repackaging of food under its own label, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. The Choxie is $2.50 a package, the Trader Joe’s is $1.99 ... a 20% savings. The biggest question is who makes the candy for both Target and Trader Joe’s? Actually, the biggest question is ... is it any good?

Since the packaging is identical (a clear cellophane inner wrapper and a matte cardboard box) and the sizes (2.5 ounces) and flavors are similar (Trader Joe’s carries only two flavors, both are included in the Choxie line, but Target has added selection on top of that) I’m going to treat them all the same.

 

Slate of Bliss -  Espresso and Milk Chocolate: I’m not sure why I’m starting with this one, because I was most disappointed with it. The milk chocolate base is sweet (32% cocoa solids) and has that European milk chocolate taste. On top are crushed Arabica espresso beans. The beans are crunchy and of course taste like coffee. They’re not bitter, but definitely have a lingering taste to them and oodles of caffeine. 7 out of 10.

 

Choxie - Toffee Ginger Thin: I’m a ginger nut, and I love toffee too, so I had high hopes for this. I was a little leery of the milk chocolate base though from the description, as I thought the sweet toffee and crystallized ginger would be set off better by semi-sweet chocolate. The label does not say how much cocoa solids are in the chocolate, and it’s definitely a different chocolate blend than the espresso Slate of Bliss. The milk chocolate is not as dairy smooth, but very sweet and lacks a chocolate punch. The toffee is nice, but I didn’t think there were enough bits on it and the ginger chunks were few and far between (when breaking the whole thing into 8 pieces, two ended up without ginger). 7 out of 10.

Slate of Bliss - Cacao Nibs and Dark Chocolate: I’ve had a few premium bars this year that have cacao nibs in them, and I really enjoy them. They’re like nuts, only chocolate! This bar has a wonderful cocoa aroma to it. Smoky and roasted with a slightly fruity fragrance. The chocolate here is only 54% cocoa solids, but instead of being overly sweet, it has a wonderful creamy cocoa butter melt. The chocolate is smooth with no hints of grainyness and the nibs give it a punch to highlight the nice apricot and cherry notes to the chocolate. 9 out of 10.

Choxie - Peppermint Marbled Crunch Thin: The sassiest of all the packages, this one is exactly what you’d expect from looking at it. A rich semi-sweet chocolate with a little marbling of white chocolate on top and some crushed peppermint candies. There’s no indication of the cocoa solids on this one, but with Sugar as the first ingredient of the chocolate, I suspect it’s less than 50%. The chocolate is slightly more astringent than the chocolate in the Slate of Bliss Cacao Nib one, but the light bitter/dry finish helps to buoy the lighter note of the mint. Though the bar smells mostly minty, it’s definitely chocolatey on the tongue. 9 out of 10.

Now, there’s been some talk in the comments section of this blog about BruCo being one of the company’s that’s making Choxie (I suspect that Choxie is made by several different candy manufacturers to Target’s standards). I don’t know BruCo well enough to comment on that. The two BruCo bars I’ve tried were not at all similar to anything that I’ve seen as part of the Choxie line. I’ve also heard that Vosges is making some of the candy (specifically the chocolate bars and some of the truffles - especially since the flavor of Vosges’ Red Fire Bar is similar to the Choxie Hot Chocolate Bar), but again, I have no confirmation on that. No matter who makes the stuff and my opinions on the flavor combinations, it’s all good quality with fresh and real ingredients.

UPDATE (11/15/05): I got an email from a very helpful reader that pointed me to Veritas Chocolatier who makes something called True Flats which looks EXACTLY like the Trader Joe’s Slate of Bliss packaging shape and of course the flavors.

Related Candies

  1. Choxie 3 Ounce Chocolate Bars
  2. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  3. Candy Source: Chocolates a la Carte
  4. Equal Exchange: Espresso, Mint & Nibs
  5. Choxie Champagne Truffles

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:34 am     CandyReviewChoxie (Target)Trader Joe'sChocolateCoffeeGingerNibsToffee7-Worth It9-YummyUnited StatesHead to HeadTargetComments (4)

Friday, September 30, 2005

KitKat Coffee!

Name: KitKat Coffee
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: 7-11 (Hollywood)
Price: $.85
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Type: Chocolate/Crisp

I know Marvo already covered KitKat Coffee this week, but if I don’t review it, I don’t get to eat it. I’d been looking for this bar for a few weeks when I finally saw it at the 7-11 I pass on my way home. There are a few 7-11s that I go to, but this one, on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Virgil seems to stock the best candy. The store is clean and the candy fresh. Though a little pricier than a lot of other places I shop, I’m willing to pay an extra 10 cents for something that I haven’t found elsewhere.

I was so excited by this bar that I bought two, one to eat when I got home and one to review, so by the time I took the photos, I knew that this was a good bar.

Upon opening the bar, the coffee scent is quite powerful and mixed with a sugary sweet smell. Where the Nestle Coffee Crisp bar smells like a creamy coffee concoction with toffee, the KitKat Coffee smells like a fresh brewed cup of black coffee. As with the Nestle KitKat Orange, the coffee flavor is actually in the chocolate (and maybe in the creamy filling of the crisps). It makes me wish that Hershey would release Coffee Kisses.

The bar is very simple and benefits from the addition of the coffee flavoring. It’s pretty amazing how the KitKat can be so good with so many other flavor iterations (Orange, Green Tea, Dark Chocolate, Melon, White Chocolate) but I think that shows that it’s a really well-engineered bar. The blank slate of the crisps and the vaguely vanilla cream can stand on its own or get a boost from another flavor.

I have my doubts that this will be added to the permanent KitKat repertoire (but they did add white chocolate, so who knows) but I’ll enjoy it while it’s around.

Rating - 9 out of 10

UPDATE: I neglected a link to the first place I saw this!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:15 am     CandyReviewHershey'sChocolateCoffeeCookieKitKatLimited Edition9-YummyUnited States7-11Comments (10)

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Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Eat with your Eyes: Nougat

• Orgran Molasses Licorice

• Rogue Chocolatier

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

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