Cafe Tasse is a Belgium chocolate company whose work I see around a lot. You see it mingling around the higher end chocolate like Valrhona, El Rey, Dolfin, Michel Cluizel, etc. Hanging around a crowd like that gives me high expectations. I finally caved one day and picked up this Noir Cafe bar since I was craving something with a good coffee flavor.
I’ve seen Cafe Tasse chocolate sold in many different formats. I’ve seen small 5g tasting squares, larger “mini” bars, 45g finger bars, then the large sized bar pictures above. I like how they offer lots of different sizes to cater to how gluttonous you feel.
The design is lovely. A brown paper wrapper with vintage styled black lettering adorns the outside. The different flavors of the chocolates are color coded, so it’s easy to pick out your favorite amongst a vast selection on a high shelf.
The bar is beautiful to look at with a gorgeous, deep coloring that’s very inviting. The snap was promising too: crisp and robust.
It’s sadly in the flavor where this chocolate goes south. The chocolate is indeed dark, with a flat flavor that’s extremely dry. The coffee is overpowering, adding more unnecessary tannic flavor to an already sour chocolate. Also, the coffee flavor is not just a flavor really. There’s coffee grounds in here. Lots of them. So yes, I do taste coffee, but I feel like I’m eating sand there’s so much grit in here. Isn’t the point of chocolate is to taste it and feel it’s wonderful smooth texture? It is for me at least.
This bar is a great example of how a chocolate bar can be misleading. Everything about it suggests it’s an excellent treat except for the flavor. Where, sadly, where the mark of a good chocolate bar really lies.
Rating: Not Worth It
Links Cafe Tasse Website
One thing that I really love about Charles Chocolates is their willingness to experiment with a multitude of different flavors. Their standard line of chocolates use all sort of additions to their tasty chocolate; from the traditional to the exotic. Regardless of what ingredients are used, the result is always pleasurable and delicious.
One of their most recent creations are a series of bars made especially for Bi-Rite Creamery, which are inspired by their infamous ice cream flavors. It’s a match made in heaven, as both companies share similar philosophies: making delicious treats in small batches while using the freshest ingredients. Besides, ice cream and chocolate are a natural pairing, and I’m interested to finally see ice cream in chocolate as opposed to the other way around.
Before I get into describing the flavors, I want to mention first that the base of these bars is a mix of dark and milk chocolates. This makes the chocolate exceptionally sweet and creamy, very reminiscent to how an ice cream base tastes. I thought this was a clever method of getting the “essence” of an ice cream’s flavor while still missing the texture.
Peanut Praline (a crunchy peanut candy in a rich blend of dark and milk chocolate): It has a terribly enticing aroma that’s hints of caramel, nutty, and very chocolatey. There’s large chunks of the candy in the bar and they are quite visible. The taste is of the chocolate: sweet, creamy, and of rich cocoa. The praline is crunchy and gives a great texture. The flavor is very buttery and nutty with a good dose of salt.
It’s exactly how I imagines a peanut praline would taste in chocolate. I love how the chunks of the praline aren’t too small so that I’d lose the texture in the chocolate, as I love to chomp on the chunks. Neither element of this bar is compromised for the other and it’s really nice.
Rocky Road (housemade marshmallows and salted almonds in a rich bled of dark and milk chocolate): Wow. Rocky road is right! This bar is just loaded with chunky bits of marshmallows and nuts and really looks like it needs a good pave job. Just breaking off a row I immediately hit the marshmallows and they softly pulled and stretched. You can tell they’re fresh and it’s awesome.
This bar is all about the texture. You get the intense crunchiness of the nuts and they’re very hefty. The marshmallows are soft, spongy and have a good “give” to them which is a great contrast to the nuts.
Flavor-wise it’s of the nice chocolate blend but supplemented with some saltiness from the nuts. It’s sweet and slightly stronger on the vanilla from the marshmallows.
Coffee Toffee (housemade almond toffee and coffee beans in a rich blend of dark and milk chocolate): This bar is extremely textured, and you can really tell just by looking at it. You can easily see the bits of toffee and espresso beans and it makes the bar look very mottled and spotted. Breaking off a row the texture is a little more crumbly and the snap is softer from all the additions.
The aroma is very roasted and sweet with a distinguishable coffee scent. It reminds me of mocha.
The flavor is immediately creamy with notes of the toffee with caramel and burnt sugar. The coffee flavor comes through after that initial burst of sweetness, with a smooth flavor that’s light and compliments the toffee and chocolate. Once you have all three flavors working together, it’s really wonderful, as all they’re all expertly balanced.
I’m happy to say that there’s no coffee grounds in this bar to deliver the flavor. Instead it’s bits of espresso beans and combined with the chunks of toffee it’s a very satisfying crispy texture.
This is my favorite of the bunch.
I love these bars and it’s a shame that unless I made the trek to the San Francisco to buy more, I probably won’t have them again. They’re certainly worth picking up if you’re in the area and I highly recommend you do so.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Charles Chocolates Website
These pretty little chocolate cups of coffee made by Anthon Berg were another random “gourmet” shopping find. I’d never seen little chocolates filled with coffee before, only liqueurs, so I was eager to give this type of candy a try without making myself woozy from the alcohol. Yes, I am that much of a lightweight that this sort of thing concerns me.
I made my purchase and I eagerly did some internet research on Anthon Berg, which is a company from Denmark with an impressive confectionery history dating all the way back to 1884 when Anton Berg, a green grocer in Copenhagen, decided to start making chocolate. How’s that for an impressive history?
The premise of these treat are simple. A 55% dark chocolate shell holding a flavored syrupy center. They are cute; shaped like little coffee mugs with color coded foil wrappers. The first thing I did once I unwrapped one was gently bite the top off one so I could taste the chocolate alone. I find that it’s pretty average bittersweet chocolate, which is fine considering their main purpose is serving as a vessel for the liquid coffee interior.
Structurally, they chocolates are pretty sound. I had no leakage on any of the pieces and when I bit into them I could feel how thick the chocolate case is. The think foil packaging kept things fresh too, so they get points for that.
Espresso: Smells more of chocolate, but with a good coffee hit to it. The espresso is bitter but doesn’t taste terribly strong. It balances nicely with the sweet chocolate.
Cappuccino: The taste is strong and the coffee is more bitter and acidic. There’s a milky flavor to it, even thought the liquid coffee doesn’t show any dairy addition (not lighter in color at all). It’s terribly sweet.
Toffee Macciato: This one has a very milky and strong caramel aroma to it. The flavor is lighter than all the others with a really big toffee/caramel taste. There’s only a light coffee hint to be found so it’s by far the most mild, coffee-wise, of the bunch. It’s really more like dessert than a drink, as the caramel toffee flavor is very pronounced.
Vanilla Frappe: Smells of light, sweet coffee. The flavor is of a medium-bodied coffee with no acidity and a smooth vanilla flavor. It’s also very sweet.
I don’t quite get the appeal of these. If I want chocolate, I’ll have chocolate. If I want coffee, then I’ll grab myself a cup. These, while nice, are just a little tease of both for me and I find myself frustrated as opposed to satisfied. I need to go get myself some coffee now to fill this odd flavor void I’m feeling at the moment.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Anthon Berg Website
I’m always impressed by the candy that I find from Meiji, and Coffeebeat is one that I always see at my local Asian market without fail. The fact that I see it all the time has made me continually hold off on buying it, until recently when I finally told myself: “Just try it already! Sheesh!”. I didn’t really know what it was exactly, other than chocolate and coffee were involved, so I was interested to see what I’d gotten myself into.
These look familiar, like M&Ms to be exact. They are all a rich brown color and have a wonderful roasted, coffee aroma. They’re immediately enticing.
Biting into one, yes, they really are like M&Ms. The candy shell is thin and has a good crunch to it. Inside is the chocolate center, and it carries not only the flavor of coffee, but it has notes of cream and chocolate as well. It’s more of a mocha than a true black cup of coffee. I think the flavor carries well here, the sweetness doesn’t overpower the coffee and vise versa. I also like the form of the candy too, I have always been a fan of the little lentil shapes for chocolate.
The packaging is really a nice design too. The tube allows you to take as little or much as you want at one time, and whatever you don’t eat is easily saved for later or shared with friends.
A nice treat if you’re into coffee and chocolate. I’ll have these on hand when for when my next craving strikes.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Meiji Coffeebeat Webpage
I saw this bar on the shelf of a overlooked convenience store and knew it was something that was long and forgotten. Despite my better judgment, I picked it up anyways. Once I was home I checked the code on the back; it read 87F2Z 61 2 . Ahh, it was considered peak freshness in Jan 2006. No wonder I haven’t seen this bar anywhere else!
As I opened the bar (yes, I did plan on eating it!) a strong smell of coffee came through. The smell, mixed with the caramel and chocolate, makes a very malty cappuccino effect. Impressive, for once, since candy often claiming to be coffee of cappuccino flavored tend to fall short on their promises. So far this one smells spot on.
Overall, it looks pretty good. There was a little blooming in the chocolate on the bottom side of the bar where the chocolate had cracked near the caramel cavity. There was also a little on top where the chocolate has been bumped from storage and rough handling during shipment. Still, it looked nice for something so old!
The bar itself is split into four square cavities, with all of them sitting on a nicely molded rectangular base. There’s nice decorative cross hatching on the top, surrounding the Hershey’s logo. The ingredients list is pretty clean, no trans fats listed, unlike Hershey’s products today, but PGPR is shown on there.
I break off a piece to try….
Ugh. Not good. The chocolate is dry and the caramel is thick and sticky. Not in a good way either; but an old, tacky sort of way. The cappuccino flavor, which I’m sure was good a long time ago, now just tastes like two week old coffee: bland, odious and oddly artificial. I bet this tasted great two years ago, but now not so much.
I don’t know why I feel so surprised about this. Let this be a lesson to you: don’t eat candy that’s expired over two years ago.
Rating: Inedible (but it’s my fault!)