Starbucks Chocolate Bar
Take a bite out of a great new line of affordable, artisan-style chocolate. Shown: The three-ounce Dark Chocolate bar with its lovely etching of cacao pods, just $2.99. Photography by Claire Freierman.




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KAREN HOCHMAN is editorial director of THE NIBBLE.


April 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Starbucks Chocolate

Artisan-Style Chocolate Treats & Gifts At Delicious Prices


CAPSULE REPORT: The new Starbucks line of artisan-style chocolates is delicious, at an affordable price. There’s something for everyone, from bars to truffles to chocolate-covered coffee beans. At this time, the product line is not being sold in Starbucks coffee shops, but is available at retailers nationwide—mass retailers, grocery and drug stores. It is most likely the best chocolate you can buy there! The crisply packaged line makes a fine everyday treat as well as a nice gift. And yes, it’s delicious with a cup of Starbucks coffee—all the more pity that it’s not sold alongside the coffee. The line is certified kosher.

Starbucks Chocolate: Overview

What do you do when you’ve mastered coffee? Come up with a line that goes with it. Starbucks has launched Starbucks Chocolate, a portfolio of artisan-style chocolates inspired by their coffee and Tazo tea products—and in some cases, containing pieces of the coffee and tea. The chocolate looks beautiful: a glossy finish and beautiful design. And it tastes great, too.

The chocolate was designed in consultation with The Artisan Confections Company, the subsidiary of The Hershey Company that owns the artisan chocolate brands Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Joseph Schmidt Confections and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker.

The chocolate quality is superb—among the best one can find outside a gourmet bar store, and some of the products can compete with most of what is found within those stores. The price is right: 3-ounce bars for $2.99, boxes of tasting squares and  Milk Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans for $4.99 to $5.49 and five flavors of Chocolate Truffles in the same price range.

Let’s take a look at the chocolates.

Chocolate Bars

The chocolate bars are not only beautiful (see the photo at top), they’re delicious for the price, and as good as some artisan bars that cost more.

Milk Chocolate. The milk chocolate bars are “dark milk chocolate,” at 37% cacao content. Most milk chocolate is 30% to 33% cacao, and is much sweeter (cacao, or cocoa mass, and sugar exist in inverse proportions—the lower the cacao percentage, the more sugar, the higher the cacao percentage, the less sugar).

At 37%, the “sugariness” of the chocolate is suppressed, and wonderful caramel tones appear on the nose and the palate. If you’re accustomed to sweet milk chocolate, this will open your eyes to the finer things available to you.

Dark Chocolate. The 55% cacao semisweet Dark Chocolate bar is even more complex, with a raisiny nose, lots of cocoa-buttery melt on the palate and a fruity finish—if you focus, you can taste raspberry.

Mocha Dark Chocolate. Starbucks’ Guatemala Casi Cielo beans are added to the dark chocolate couverture to provide flavor and a bit of crunch. Another delicious bar, with cocoa and citrus notes from the coffee beans.

Starbucks Chocolate Bars
A trio of delectable chocolate bars—high quality
for the price.

Tasting Squares

When you just want a little taste of chocolate—perhaps with a cup of coffee or tea after a meal—reach for a tasting square.

They’re also called tasting squares because you can get a taste before you buy the whole bar. They are used in chocolate tastings as an easy way to give participants portions of the chocolates to be tasted—much tidier than breaking off pieces from larger bars.

But the original purpose of the carré, or palet, as the tasting square is called in France, or napolitain, as it is called in Italy, was to provide a small taste of chocolate along with an espresso. The flavors blend divinely; you can bring a bit of Europe to every cup of tea or coffee you serve (or personally enjoy), by offering a choice of these.

Starbucks has excelled again here.

Chocolate Tasting Squares. Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Mocha Tasting Squares are tiny versions of the three-ounce bars. In an assorted box, they hit the spot. At just five grams apiece, one would not be remiss to enjoy a piece of each flavor with coffee or as a snack.

Starbucks Chocolate Tasting Squares
Tasting Squares are available in both milk and dark chocolate, plain and flavored.

They are joined by Chocolate and Tea Tasting Squares, three flavors inspired by the Tazo line of teas:

  • Chai Milk Chocolate. Chai lovers will flip for the spicy aroma of this chocolate, and it does not fail to deliver on the palate, with a long finish. The spices make the chocolate seem sweeter than the regular Milk Chocolate, but few will complain. Enjoy it with a cup of chai tea, of course (Tazo also makes a decaffeinated chai tea—a real find).
  • Citron Dark Chocolate. One could be content to inhale the aroma of this tiny delight, but on the palate, you’ll find seductive citron (citrus and chocolate are a perfect marriage) and texture from the actual tea leaves blended into the chocolate. Does this mean you can count this as “double antioxidants”? No. Eat chocolate for pleasure, not for health.
  • Passion Dark Chocolate. Blended with Tazo Passion Tea, the most sophisticated of the tasting squares has a hibiscus nose and tart hibiscus, as well as passionfruit, flavor on the palate. Those who like sweet-tart pairings should make a bee line for this chocolate. Ground hibiscus blossoms add texture and an exotic experience. Hibiscus is an underutilized flavor, and, we predict, one that will become more fashionable in the seasons to come. The finish is one glorious mouthful of red fruit flavor. Tazo Passion tea, a caffeine-free herbal, is also an exciting discovery, hot or iced. Have some with the chocolate.

The tasting squares, at .17 ounces (5 grams) and a 1-1/4 inch square, also make beautiful garnishes on desserts or a guilt-free chocolate snack at any time of the day (guilt-free assuming you eat one or two squares and not the entire box).

Starbucks Chocolate Truffles

We’d like these yummy candies even more if they were called bonbons or filled chocolates instead of truffles. That’s because “truffle,” along with “praline,” is the most misused and confusing word in the language of chocolate. You always need to clarify what is being discussed, because the words have multiple meanings. You can read longer discussions of each in our Chocolate Glossary. However, the original chocolate truffles are balls of ganache, not filled chocolates with creamy centers.

Still, we’re not going to split hairs: These chocolates with flavored soft centers are good, and for the price, really good. The centers are very thick and chewy, which makes them long-lasting. One can take a while to consume, and is very satisfying.

Initially, there are four flavors:

  • Milk Chocolate Café Truffles. In the photo at right, this is the milk chocolate piece with two coffee beans embossed on the top. Inside, there’s a chocolate center with a hint of coffee. Pick it from the box by the purple wrapper.
  • Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles. If you want more coffee flavor, reach for the dark oval piece. While the raised design in the top reminds us of a vanilla bean, the chocolate center is infused with espresso flavor. Pick it from the box by the dark orange wrapper.
  • Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Truffles. The simplest flavor pairs a sweet vanilla center against the serious dark chocolate flavors. It’s the bonbon at the front right of the photo, with the vertical stripes. Pick it from the box by the gold wrapper.
Starbucks Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate truffles, clockwise: Milk Chocolate Chai, Dark Chocolate Espresso, Milk Chocolate Café and Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean. Our “bonbon dish” is a double-glass insulated cappuccino cup (handle-free) by Bodum. When we’re not using our cups for cappuccino, we use them for cereal, dessert, olives and candy.
  • Milk Chocolate Chai Truffles. Our personal favorite is the orange wrapper: milk chocolate with a vanilla, chai-infused center. It’s different from everything else on the market—lots of orange flavor, cardamom, ginger heat, black tea and soaring caramel notes from the milk chocolate. The finish goes on for days. We also are charmed that it is shaped like an upside-down teacup (it’s the piece at the front left of the photo). Pick it from the box by the light orange wrapper.

Chocolate-tasting tip: Clear your palate with water and water biscuits or matzoh. But keep the water at room temperature. Ice water lowers the temperature in your mouth, and affects how the cocoa butter in the chocolate will melt.

Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
Chocolate, coffee and lots of crunch.

Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans

These are perhaps the best chocolate-covered coffee beans we’ve ever had. Why? Because they use the coffee beans from Starbucks’ Caffè Verona blend, and they taste much fresher than most covered coffee beans. Next, the milk chocolate coating is very good.

If you’re fond of chocolate-covered coffee beans, you’ll be extremely fond of these. If you’ve never quite liked them, give these a try. They’re excellent with a cup of coffee, and fun decoration on cream, cake, cupcakes, chocolate pudding and mousse.

Our only unhappiness is that today, we can’t find anyone online to ship these to us. But the products were just launched last month, and distribution will evolve. Whenever you see them, grab them. For three to five dollars a pop, they’re a treat you can enjoy, and a gift you can afford to give.

Assorted Bars, Tasting Squares, Truffles and Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans

Certified kosher (dairy) by OU

  • Chocolate Bars
    Milk, Dark or Mocha
    3.5 Ounces
    $2.99 Suggested Retail Price
  • Tasting Squares
    2.64-Ounce Box, 15 Squares
    Box Of Milk, Dark & Mocha
    Box of Chai, Citron & Passion
    $4.99 to $5.49
    Suggested Retail Price
  • Chocolate Truffles
    $4.99 to $5.49
    Suggested Retail Price
  • Milk Chocolate Covered
    Coffee Beans

    3.5-Ounce Box
    $4.99 to $5.49
    Suggested Retail Price

Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans
Handsome packaging makes Starbucks Chocolates nice for gift-giving, and the size is right for stocking stuffers (for those who literally have stockings to stuff).

Not sold at Starbucks cafés, but available at food stores, price clubs and other retailers nationwide including Target Stores. Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.                                                              

Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.  Images are the copyright of their respective owners.