One of my favorite things besides candy is coffee, so I couldn’t believe my luck when I received a huge, beautifully packaged box of Starbucks Chocolate to review! Yes, folks, Starbucks Coffee Company is now in the chocolate business. Starbucks has partnered with Hershey’s, whose subsidiary Artisan Confections Company, itself comprised of Joseph Schmidt Confections, Scharffen Berger, and Dagoba Chocolate, manufactures the Starbucks Chocolate. Did you get all that? Basically, Starbucks Chocolate is being made by people who know their chocolate.
I have to confess that while I was wowed by the attractive packaging, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the chocolate. Starbucks coffee is not quite full-bodied or flavorful enough for my taste, so I figured the chocolate would be geared toward a similar palate. I am happy to say that I was wrong. Starbucks chocolate, with just a few exceptions, is rich, full flavored, and thoroughly enjoyable.
The box came stocked with three chocolate bars (nice and hefty), an assortment of chocolate truffles, a package of Milk Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans, and a slew of little tasting squares.
Let’s begin with the truffles. The Starbucks Chocolate Truffles come in four flavors (well, five if you count the Milk Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Truffles, which will only be sold in club stores). Now, I prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, but I enjoyed all the Starbucks dark chocolates. This may mean the dark chocolates have a lower cacao content than some hardcore dark chocolate fanatics would like. Please bear that in mind.
Milk Chocolate Caffe Mocha Truffles: I was kind of expecting Starbucks to wimp out a little bit on the coffee bang, so I really appreciated the strong espresso flavor in these truffles. These are reminiscent of those chocolate-covered espresso beans (aka buzzballs), but the milk chocolate makes them sweeter than the norm. The chocolate is smooth and flavorful. I expected the texture of the truffles to be soft and creamy, but in fact they are slightly firm and on the verge of being crumbly. I rather liked the texture!
Milk Chocolate Chai Truffles: I was a little frightened to try these. I generally like drinking chai, but in my experience chai-flavored foods are rather dreadful, and I usually end up feeling like one of those roasted pigs with the cloves stuck all over them. There was no need to be scared! Though these truffles do boast a strong chai aroma, the flavors are not overwhelming. There are hints of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, and they fuse rather nicely without being excessively spicy. This truffle is definitely the sweetest of the bunch.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles: Now THIS definitely tastes like a chocolate-covered espresso bean. What’s nice about it is there is no hint of bitterness. The dark chocolate is smooth and flavorful and intense.
Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Truffles: I assumed this was going to be really sweet, but again I was wrong! The vanilla bean center is creamy and smooth, and this is going to be hard to describe, but it’s like I can taste the extract part of the vanilla extract more than the vanilla bean. I hope that makes sense. The dark chocolate and vanilla bean filling make a really satisfying pairing.
Okay, and now on to the tasting squares. The flavors of the three full-sized bars, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and Mocha Dark Chocolate, are all represented in the tasting squares, so you’ll have to just extrapolate from the tasting square reviews, okay?
Milk Chocolate: I confess that I have already plowed through the entire full-sized Milk Chocolate bar. The chocolate is very creamy and milky but with a full and deep chocolate flavor. Milk chocolate can sometimes taste waxy and bland, but you can really taste and savor the chocolate in the Starbucks Milk Chocolate. Thumbs up from me!
Dark Chocolate: Not a stitch of bitterness in this dark chocolate. There are some slightly fruity undertones here, but they aren’t overpowering. This dark chocolate has a nice, clean dark chocolate flavor, and the texture is smooth (sometimes dark chocolate can be too snappy).
Mocha Dark Chocolate: The aroma alone makes me swoon – this smells like dark-roasted coffee beans, and hey! It tastes like it, too! There are little nuggets of coffee bean embedded into this chocolate, which as you can imagine impart a nice, strong, smoky coffee flavor.
Chai Milk Chocolate: Okay, now we get to the scary flavors. Everything I feared in chai-flavored food seems to be infused in this Chai Milk Chocolate. First, the chocolate smells like the cleaning solvent used in public restrooms. I can’t identify it by name, but hoo boy the smell memory is strong! Unfortunately, the chocolate also tastes like said cleaning solvent. It’s very bitter, as if the concentration of spices was just too strong. I even felt a burning sensation in the back of my throat after eating a square.
Passion Dark Chocolate: This one, along with the Citron Dark Chocolate, is infused with tea. I’m guessing this Passion Tea is a fruity herbal blend, because this chocolate had a very strong raspberry flavor. If you like raspberry and dark chocolate combinations, then this chocolate isn’t bad, but I did find it to be a little sour.
Citron Dark Chocolate: Now this one smelled like lemon-scented Pledge. It is quite bitter, making me think they should change the name to Citron Rind Dark Chocolate. It really tastes like they got carried away with a lemon zester. It even tastes a little soapy.
So that just leaves the Starbucks Milk Chocolate Covered Caffe Verona Coffee Beans. These are keepers! They smell like coffee beans, which is a plus, and they are crunchy and tasty. The standard chocolate-covered coffee bean uses dark chocolate, and the coffee bean tends to overpower the chocolate so that you can’t really taste the chocolate. With these Starbucks beans, though, you can really taste the chocolate. For some reason the milk chocolate provides more contrast and is more complementary to the bean than dark chocolate.
Starbucks Chocolates will not be available at Starbucks stores. Instead, you can find them at grocery stores and mass retailers and such across the nation. I know that I will be looking for them!