By Benjamin Skipper
It always bothers me as a connoisseur to see a chocolate taken off the store shelf permanently. Some of the best chocolates I've ever been introduced to were often nearing the end of their store presence, and within a week or two my cravings for them could no longer be satisfied. It's dissatisfying since they often aren't replaced by anything finer, making the selection become yet more run-of-the-mill. Are fine chocolate tastes rare? Or are consumers not being adventurous enough to go out and try these great things? I never forgave that one Walmart for introducing me to New Tree chocolates, especially after it made me attached to that lovely ginger bar and took it away within the month. It seems that my local Target is victimizing its own worthwhile chocolates, as I picked up Ghirardelli's 60% cacao Espresso Escape bar in the clearance bin, now vanished.
I don't drink coffee. In fact, I dedicate myself almost solely to water, excepting fruit smoothies and coconut juice as rare treats, though I like raw milk too. But coffee is dandy in chocolate, and that's just where I like it. How could I neglect this given the euphoric experience I had with Green & Black's own 67% espresso?
Overall, it's plenty satisfying. The cardboard sleeve has an excellent eye-catching design and color scheme, and from a technical advertising perspective I am appreciative of their economical usage and variety of information, with precisely separated sections on the back and no wasted space. Beyond the lovely silver foil -- I'm always so tempted to collect it, perhaps make a giant ball like Pee Wee Herman's foil ball -- appears an expertly designed bar with a wonderful, full-textured Ghirardelli emblem on each square, a great aesthetic touch. It's glossy, though not shiny, and has a quiet, crisp snap. The aroma comes out with a trio of chocolate, coffee, and maybe a hint of nuts. Seizing upon the eating, the flavor complex consisted of powered dairy -- though not texturally -- sugar, coffee, and a chocolately tone permeating the background throughout. In contradiction to the tasting notes, I did not sense any sort of spiciness or cherry-like fruitiness. The chocolate melts goodly, but unevenly and with lumps.
To my fortune I do not seem sensitive to caffeine, for even the consumption of this entire bar did not put me on a high or set me up for a crash, so maybe I have a helpful immunity in sampling a great quantity of coffee things. All in all, I'm pleased, but just cannot say it's superior to Green & Black's, and I nearly cannot list any advantage the competitor has except that the flavors are just higher quality and more intense. That, and I just like the better, more gooey and smooth mouthfeel that the thicker bars G&B's provide. Nutritionally, the lower cacao content of the Ghirardelli bar may be more preferable to those sensitive to caffeine, as the lower content might mean less caffeine, though it doesn't escape me that the G&B's bar contains cocoa instead of cacao, which makes things more difficult to judge.
In the end, I have to say it was pleasurable, but it just doesn't seem to match the quality of G&B's. I'd recommend this if it's all you have access to or can include in your budget, or if you have nutritional reasons for consuming it (e.g. possibly lower caffeine, different nature of cacao from cocoa), but otherwise my coffee chocolate preference lies with Green & Black's.