This post is about some fantastic Food Finds that I’ve discovered on my Food Adventures and I will be reviewing a range of Organic and Fair Trade chocolate bars from Traidcraft.
Before I dive into my review I want to offer some comments and thoughts on Fair Trade, ethical sourcing and sustainability. Don’t worry I’ve kicked my soap box to one side but this is a big issue that we should at least be aware of; being a Food Adventurer is all about awareness of what we’re eating, from all aspects.
Ultimately I believe that the Fair Trade mission is a fantastic thing and, where possible, I will always support Fair Trade. It is a great way of alleviating poverty in commodity producing regions, returning ownership back to the producers and ensuring that the planet has a sustainable food source that is protected for future generations. However, over the last couple of years there has been a moral blurring on the products that carry the Fair Trade mark. For me, and many other ethically conscious foodies, Nestle and Mondelez have sullied the mark. Yes, they both have an extensive CSR program but the mark for them is a sales and marketing tool as opposed to a desire to pay a fair price for raw materials (I’ve included a couple of links below to help you make up you own mind). This doesn’t mean that I’ve lost faith in Fair Trade and what it stands for, it just means that the foundation have made some decisions that I don’t agree with. There are a number of suppliers who have decided to continue buying ethically but not to pay money to the foundation to carry their mark which I think is a great compromise.
That being said, if the decision I faced was a choice between a Mars bar without the mark or a Cadbury bar with the mark, I’d be Cadbury every time. So my appeal to you is: whatever you choose to buy and eat, read the label, it might tell you more than you were expecting.
Traidcraft is a fantastic business that endorses and enthuses about all things Fair Trade to build sales and awareness for a noble cause. So not only does it taste great, it doesn’t come laden with the tears of an underpaid, malnourished workforce…
So, onto my review!
Product/ Review: Traidcraft Chocolate (Milk, Dark, Milk Caramel Espresso, Dark Almond and Orange)
Appeals to: chocoholics and those with a moral buying compass.
The packaging for this product is spot on for the category and consumer. The messaging on pack is simple but it calls out the key messages: cocoa %, organic and fair trade. The gold embossed print makes the product stand out on fixture and enforce the premium price tag. When you open up the box there’s even more information on the other side telling the Traidcraft story about ‘so much more than chocolate’. The only element missing on the packaging is any provenance and this is becoming more and more important to consumers. On visiting the website I discovered that this could be that the cocoa is made from a blend as opposed to a single origin; this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s lower quality than single origin chocolate and I believe it’s a miss to not include any provenance claims.
£2.25 is a very reasonable price for 100g of quality chocolate. It’s definitely market appropriate and still accessible for anyone wanting to dabble in high-quality, ethical chocolate.
I’ll take each bar in turn as they all offer something quite different.
The first bar I tasted was the 38% Milk Chocolate. Now, I am a milk fan so I was excited to find a milk with such a high cocoa percentage. I wasn’t disappointed. The initial hit of cocoa is followed up by a smooth, creamy warmth. Loved it.
Next, I moved up the flavour profiles and tasted the 38% Caramel Espresso. The first thing that you notice about this bar is the coffee smell that comes from the chocolate, for me it’s a little strong and overpowers any other notes. This contrasted with the taste as the coffee flavour was dumbed down and was less Espresso and more Macchiato. The coffee nibs and the caramel pieces added a great texture combination to the bar which worked really well.
I then moved onto the 55% Almond and Orange bar. The first flavour that hit me was quite a bitter cocoa which was intensified when the citrus hit me. The almonds came into play as I chewed and were softer than I was expecting. The harsh cocoa flavours soon subsided and left a creamy, chewy chocolate. I didn’t want this bar to end.
Finally I tore into the 70% Dark. I was expecting quite bitter flavours based on my experience with the Almond and Orange bar, but that didn’t come. Instead, the first flavour released was an intense dark berries that burst with creaminess as I chewed. The bar held quite earthy and rustic flavours that lasted way after I’d finished eating.
Verdict: In a word – fantastic. This was exactly what I expect from a well made chocolate bar. The flavours were sufficiently different to warrant their own space and would accompany a smooth red wine or an earthy coffee very well.
For those of you interested in learning more about Fair Trade and, in particular, Nestle please see the links below to make up your own mind.