Seeing as the guys at JD Williams have decimated my chocolate collection it was great to have it replenished with the arrival of Traidcraft bars that David sent over for me to give my thoughts on. Whenever I review Fairtrade products I always try and see the chocolate in the context of what the maker actually tries to achieve and not in direct comparison to the type of chocolate that a maker will happily charge £7-£10 for. This market is completely different. It’s one that competes on supermarket shelves and, charity outlets and market stalls. It’s for people that want to make a progression away from chocolate that makes use of child slavery and deforestation.
As consumers we have to realise that the pinnacle of ethical chocolate production, direct trade, just isn’t scalable for the mass-market, there has to be a tier that makes use of more ethical production methods but can reach all corners of the chocolate market at an affordable price. And that’s where Traidcraft comes in.
These four bars, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, almond & orange and the caramel espresso cost £2.25 each for 100g from the Traidcraft shop. They’re inexpensive and should be reviewed in that context. Interestingly, however, chocolate of this Fairtrade price point often is made from Ghanaian cacao, but with this selection we have cacao grown in Peru, Bolivia and Dominican Republic – although to my mind it has more of an Ecuadorian quality, or that could be that the 70% dark I’m trying first has more earthiness from the Dominican notes than anything else. It’s that earthiness with a touch of under-ripe banana and salinity that certainly does dominate. It even comes across with a slight bitterness and warming of the back of the throat that I would expect from brandy.
The 38% milk is more typical of the genre. The semi-sweet flavours are very well-received. Almost honey-like and pushing towards the Hotel Chocolat-standard milk. The tartness is there and miles better than virtually every milk I’ve tried at this price-point.
The caramel espresso is a version that builds on that lovely 38% milk with an intense sharpness of the ground coffee beans. Perhaps I couldn’t happily consume this in as great a quantity as the milk given that the flavours from the coffee and the caramel do build rapidly on one another, but as a lunchtime pick-me-up I expect it would work very well.
The almond & orange chocolate and only just rested on my tongue and the sweet orange flavours were punching their way around my mouth. The almond played the bass-guitar role of building a flavour rhythm without ever coming to the fore. Orange may not be ‘my thing’, but I knew I would happily consume it I needed to jolt my tastebuds.
Overall, I was very impressed with this chocolate given the blend of origins and the price point. I’ll now seek feedback from the guys in the office. For this I will use qualitative feedback and a stopwatch.