Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate Review: Dagoba Superfruit (74% Cacao)

By Benjamin Skipper

Acai and goji berries are quite delicious fruits. Acai berries offer a smooth and comforting form of sweetness while goji berries offer a citrusy tartness reminiscent of oranges and cranberries. It is irrelevant to me as to whether or not these are the "super fruits" they're often touted to be; I just think they're delicious and deserve to be widely appreciated. Dagoba's Superfruit bar, then, is a chocolate certainly worthy of my attention.


Now I've already reviewed Beaucoup Berries and would ordinarily take package aesthetics for granted since they're usually consistent throughout a brand's whole line -- the only difference is that this wrapper is purple -- but I have noticed one defect I hadn't before. Irritatingly enough, the inner foil is caught between the flaps of the outer packaging paper, so if you try to just take off the label you'll end up unwrapping the whole chocolate bar anyhow. Given that Dagoba leaves messages inside its wrappers this is annoying, as someone may just want to read the writing inside and might accidentally make the chocolate bar fall out. Whether or not this is intentional is unknown to me, but I hope they remedy it in the future.


The bar itself is not unattractive, but it does lack even the least bit of shine, even worse than Theo. Theo, on the other hand, had at least a very dull glimmer, and this Dagoba variety can hardly reflect a simple light source. It also has a color inconsistency where certain parts of the bar are lighter than other parts, most noticeably on the bottom, and together it works to give this bar an almost chocolately purple hue. The mathematical neatness of the rectangle divisions and fancy font branding on each divisible part makes up for it, however, and still serves to be quite an attractive bar despite these unfavorable shine and color characteristics.


One difficulty I mentioned with the Beaucoup Berries bar is that the rectangles are far too small to break off without causing undesirable fissures, but at the time I thought that maybe I was being too rough and the problem was with my technique. Well, I tried being extra careful with this bar and I still ran into the problem of breaking off irregular pieces despite my wanting clean rectangles. For anyone who likes sharing, eating their chocolate in mathematically measured amounts, or simply likes eating bars in their intended division parts will have a problem, but this won't bother any of those who bite right off the bar, especially considering since this only comes in a single-serving size. As for me, it doesn't bother me too much since I'm eating the whole bar anyways and will cleanly divide the chocolate by sticking my incisors in the division fissures.


The mouthfeel offers the same wonderful contrast I enjoyed in the Beaucoup Berries bar: a softly crumbly sort of crunchy chocolate texture with an inconsistently incorporated gooey-sticky-squishy berry texture whenever you should happen into a fruit. The variety of textures keeps the eating interesting since you can't anticipate the mouthfeel of any bite, so while Dagoba's conching process may deprive their bars of a good shine it certainly leads to a distinguishable and pleasurable mouthfeel.


The flavor profile itself is awesome, but unfortunately it doesn't do true justice to the goji berry. The acai berry is blended in as a powder, so its flavor is present throughout the entirety of the bar whereas the goji berries and currant raisins are integrated inconsistently as pieces of dried fruit. You'll taste the acai the entire time, but not the other two players. The effect the acai has on the chocolate is very subtle and will require your attention to notice, but taking such effort to concentrate will reward you with a taste you might otherwise not experience. Strangely enough, the acai seems to have attributes of other fruits: a hint of blueberries and raisins. Acai berries are quite unique in their flavor profile and hard to describe, but I think this is what comes close to describing it. The attributes here can be clearly distinguished only with exertion of the concentration, and those who take the time will be rewarded with flavors that play well together without necessarily fusing.


The currants and goji, while contributing greatly to the overall mouthfeel, don't do much for the flavor profile. I haven't eaten currants separately before, so I wouldn't know what they taste like, but I could distinguish them from the reddish-orange goji berries and therefore could observe when a currant was in the next bite or not. Most likely is that they contribute to the raisin note, but I don't really know or get a strong impression of anything, so my conclusion is that it merely heightens a flavor note already there and is therefore hard to distinguish on its own. The orange-cranberry tartness is quite noticeable whenever you get one of those goji berries, but it seems strangely absent in this bar. When I decided to keep track, I could only count two goji berries in the whole bar, so I think this goji to currants ratio problem definitely needs to be fixed.


Considering the flavor in total, the acai berry seems to have found a throne in this bar, but the goji and currant fruits still have yet to receive their justice. In comparison to other competitors (Endangered Species uses acai here and goji here, but both varieties are very terrible) this variety is a world above, but I still desire to see each berry to be given their very own bar with no one else to hog the stage, or at least to see acai and goji berries combined with no other flavor players. Such is something I'll keep on my wish list and look for in the market, but for now it seems that this is the best offering.


Ultimately I like this bar -- I like it a lot. Definitely worth both eating and purchasing again, and I bought three the last time I made a purchase on Lucky Vitamin. It enters my "like" list, but not my top favorites and so will not be something I would purchase in bulk, like Endangered Species' mint.


In summary, the bar has a strange color inconsistency and is too hard to break off in exactly the pieces you want, but makes up for it with a very soft, crumbly, crunchy mouthfeel. It has a very pleasantly complex flavor profile that does a great justice for acai berries but not quite so for the goji and currants. Each fruit, I think, is still deserving of its own bar, but I still like this bar enough to want to purchase it again. The only significant improvement I can think to call for is an increase in the amount of goji berries incorporated, as their tartness is noticeable but absent in the majority of bites. I recommend this chocolate.

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