Espresso & Food

January 20, 2013

Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows


Did anyone pick up a tin of these this holiday season? I did, and I had to go back for more. Trader Joe's has a great little pick-me-up available in a stylish tin that will fit in a small pocket, briefcase, kitchen drawer, or anywhere you'll need a little sweetness and a shot of caffeine.

The tin is classic, and has a satisfying snap to it when it closes. The see-thru window gives you a quick chance of the beautiful treats inside; it also gives you a reason how much is left, with a clue to see if anyone has been downing your Espresso Pillows without your knowledge.

The Espresso Pillows are not just chocolate covered espresso beans, but instead have a sweeter layer of toffee coating the bean, then with a layer of dark chocolate on top to finish it off. These really aren't pillows, and are not fluffy, but instead are strong flavored and a bit crunchy - not sure who named it, but I don't really care. They are pretty good.

These are better than your average chocolate covered bean; the light sweetness of the toffee with its buttery notes, make this a better, tasty treat, and because it comes in a closable tin, a far better option than the usual cellophane bag for run of the mill beans.

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January 15, 2009

Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino


I picked this up at the local store for a couple of bucks, hoping that they would get it right - so many products have terrible coffee flavor. On top of the usual bad coffee flavors, the Bolthouse Farms drink has a boatload of protein in it; 19 grams, won't that make it doubly worse? On a word - no.

The Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino is very good, with a nice coffee/mocha flavor with a rounded profile. The drink is pretty sweet, and shouldn't be thought of as a "black" coffee flavor - very much a creamed/dairy profile - probably due to the milk in it! Bolthouse Farms says, "Our Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino is a smooth blend of 100% Arabica coffee and low fat milk. We then add premium cocoa and a touch of Madagascar vanilla extract to round out the flavor."

Definitely worth a try if you like these drinks. Each 450ml bottle contains about 2 servings, and is 178 calories, 2.5g fat, 10g of protein, and 28g of sugar per serving.

More at Bolthouse Farms

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March 13, 2008

Starbuck's Branded Chocolate Coming Soon


In case you missed it, Starbucks is moving into chocolate bar branding. Like their agreement with Dryers to make Starbucks Ice Cream, they have gotten into an agreement to brand a chocolate bar made by Hershey's subsidiary Artisan Confection Company. Bars should be showing up at stores near you sometime soon.

When we see them, we'll grab a few and dive in.

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February 25, 2008

Seattle Chocolates - Pike Place Espresso Dark Chocolate


These are always a fun diversion from sipping espresso and getting wired; eating chocolate and getting wired. This trip to the chocolatier brings me to a bar of Seattle's Chocolates "Pike Place Espresso" - an espresso infused dark chocolate bar. The 100% natural "Truffle Bar" is a 2.5 ounce little wonder that won't break the bank. The bar is made with decaffeinated espresso (too bad), and has a creamy center to it.

The Pike Place Espresso dark chocolate has a nice snap to it and a subtle flavor to it that is definitely dark chocolate with a hint of sweetness without the classic bitterness of an over the top dark chocolate bar. The truffle center is a wonderful experience that has a nice creamy finish to the bar, with a lingering chocolate flavor that lasts for a a nice reminder of the indulgence. I would not say it has a strong espresso flavor, or much of one at all. In the end though, who cares, it's a pretty good chocolate bar. 2.5 ounces, 43% cocoa, 2 servings per bar, 200 calories each.

More at Seattle Chocolates

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July 23, 2007

Starbucks and Hershey's Team Up


Starbucks and Hershey’s are teaming up to create a high end chocolate offering that will be available in Starbucks (and other retail outlets) later this year. Not surprising that Hershey’s snuggled up next to Starbucks with Hershey's distribution capabilities, their knowledge of chocolate and their dire need for a palatable coffee inspired chocolate bar; my impressions were that their current iteration is terrible. Tastes like old oxidized coffee from a gas station mixed in with a decent chocolate bar.

Judging from Starbucks’ success in other foodie areas, namely ice cream, where they have had good success with Dryers making great tasting coffee inspired creations, my expectations are for grand products. I hope that Hershey’s doesn’t keep them grounded in mediocre bars, because with the Hershey’s knowledge, I would imagine great things could happen.

My current favorite coffee inspired bar is Endangered Species Chocolate Bars with bits of espresso beans mixed into the bar.

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January 18, 2007

New Caramel High Rise Caribou Coffee Granola Bars

We've been fans of the Caribou Coffee Granola Bars ever since we stumbled across them last summer. The Mocha is really good, and the vanilla a little less "coffee-ish" but still pretty tasty. Well Caribou has another couple out, The Caramel High Rise flavor and a mint based one that I can't remember the name of. I am not a big fan of mint flavored food or drinks so you won't find me trying those, mint mochas, candy canes, or those after dinner mints either. Plain old mints, I like. reader Shelli mentioned these a couple of days ago, so they must be in decent distribution.

Back to the Caribou Coffee Caramel granola bars; again they nailed a pretty good granola bar. Sweet like caramel should be, with enough salty flavor in there to cut the sweetness down a bit. Doesn't quite have the espresso kick that I would like, but overall a very good and indulgent bar. It has 140 calories per 35 gram bar, and again, don't eat these things because of the caffeine. There's probably only about 150 milligrams of ground coffee beans in there after looking at the label, and of that only a few percent is actually caffeine. Stick with the espresso if you need a buzz. Out of all of them, the Mocha flavored ones pack the most coffee flavor.

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January 5, 2007

Valrhona Dark Chocolate with Coffee

Continuing on the Coffee and Chocolate reviews (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it), I stumbled onto another dark chocolate bar with coffee in it. This time it’s Valrhona Le Café Noir Dark Chocolate with Coffee. Valrhona is a French chocolatier that is working on estate grown cocoa (yes, just like fine coffee). This particular bar is dark and semi-sweet with 57% cocoa. It’s dark without being too bitter. The bar is a smooth style bar without bits in it and has a very subtle, and potentially non-existent coffee flavor in it. The bar snaps when broken. Overall, I think that it’s a very nice dark chocolate, slightly bitter, but not overly done without much coffee flavor to it. If that’s what you are looking for, there you go; for me I want a little bit more coffee, thanks. I got it at Whole foods for $3.99.

More at Valrhona

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December 13, 2006

Frey Supreme Cafe & Cacao Chocolate Bar


This time we grab a bar of Frey’s Supreme Café & Cacao chocolate. This happens to have coffee and crispy cocoa nibs in the bar, so it is not a smooth bar. The bar is a milk chocolate style bar from Frey, a Swiss chocolatier. According to the back of the package, Frey was started by two brothers in 1887, and now they offer over 1,200 different chocolate products for your engorgement enjoyment.

I happened to love this chocolate, as I think that the milk chocolate and creamy texture plays well off of the subtle coffee flavors. The crunch of the coffee and the cocoa nibs is great, and gives a very understated complexity in flavor and mouthfeel that is intriguing. It's not a blast of coffee, and at this price, it may not be the best chocolate, but it's certainly enjoyable.

I got this 100g bar for $1.99 at Target.

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November 30, 2006

Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans - Great Gift

Thought I would put up a post for these great little treats. They are a great gift for any coffee lover, let alone an espresso drinker. I had forgotten about them, and decided to add them onto my Holiday Gift Guide – The Best Espresso Gifts. We picked some of these up when we went to Costa Rica a few years ago, and could barely stop eating them. There are a couple of coffee varieties: a chocolate covered espresso bean – classic, and a white chocolate covered coffee bean, a nice twist on things. Café Britt is a huge brand of coffee in Costa Rica, and I really enjoyed their coffee while we were there, they seemed to be everywhere. Anyway, you should also check out some of the other confections they have under the brand name, chocolate covered Macadamia nuts, etc. yum!
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November 29, 2006

Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans


Continuing our little foray into chocolates with espresso in them, we found this Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans bar and I thought that it was great. So, apparently 10% of the profits go to helping endangered species, habitat and humanity. So, apparently this isn’t just a good tasting chocolate bar, its doing some good for the world. Anyway, this is a bar with espresso bean bits right in the bar that give it a visual cue on the bottom of the bar as you can see a few little lumps and bumps sticking out, as well as a few audible cues when you chew. The bar is dark chocolate, and subtly sweet, but doesn’t have an overly strong espresso flavor to it. That’s OK, because the bar is delicious. I would prefer a well made bar with bits of espresso in it to a bar that has a poorly done espresso flavor dosed on top of the chocolate. On the inside of the paper wrapper, there’s plenty of information regarding their product and cause.

More at Endagered Species Chocolate Bars

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November 10, 2006

Review: Newman’s Own Sweet Dark Espresso Dark Chocolate Bar

We checked out a familiar name in cause-related food products; Newman’s Own Sweet Dark Espresso Dark Chocolate Bar. This product is made with only organic ingredients, and is smooth in texture, i.e. no coffee lumps or bumps. It’s mildly sweet, and has some definite dark chocolate notes to it, without much hint of espresso. I have to say though that it’s got a lot of funky off-notes to it that is a real turn off. The bar has an acrid, “wild” flavor to it that is not good. I had to force myself to eat more of it to write this review and try to come up with what was wrong. Love your other stuff, not this bar though. Sorry Paul…..

More at Newman's Organics

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November 2, 2006

Review: Green & Blacks Organic Espresso Chocolate Bar

This is a very dark chocolate bar that has a low amount of sweetness, and a smooth texture, with a nice mild coffee flavor that is detectable, but not overwhelming. The bar is made in Italy of all organic ingredients and claims 5% coffee content, which is ground to a point that it is undetectable in the mouth. The flavor of the bar is nice dark chocolate, but is not a strong espresso. I would assume that it’s got some caffeine kick to it if had in large quantities, but I was happy to bite into it any time of day and didn’t worry about some caffeine backlash.

More at Green & Blacks

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October 27, 2006

Review: Caribou Coffee Granola Bars - Vanilla Latte


So, a while back, I wrote up a post about the delicious Caribou Coffee Granola Bars - Chocolate Mocha flavor, and thought that I would finally get around to looking at the Vanilla Latte and well writing a little review on the things. The Mocha flavored granola bars are rich and a bit sharp in flavor; pretty delicious overall. I love them, and my kids love them. "You feed them to your kids? How much caffeine is in there?” You ask. Yes, while they have coffee in them, the ingredient statement has coffee below salt, which means that there is less coffee in there than salt. Now, in looking at the sodium content of a hundred milligrams or so, it tells me that there is only a hundred or so milligrams of coffee in these things, and a LOT LESS caffeine. So, not to worry, they won't keep my kids or me up at night.

ArrowContinue reading: "Review: Caribou Coffee Granola Bars - Vanilla Latte"

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October 20, 2006

Review: Hershey's Special Dark Espresso Flavored Chocolate Bar


So I ran across this limited edition Hershey’s Special Dark Espresso flavored chocolate bar in the store yesterday. Since I tried the Caribou Coffee Granola Bars and like them a lot I thought I would give this a try. I mean come on, chocolate and coffee flavors are made to go together, right? Well, this bar is Espresso flavored, and does not have any coffee in it; I was a little disappointed in the coffee flavor too. It tasted more like “old coffee” than a nice espresso, or even those Caribou Granola bars. So, if you like Dark Chocolate, and mediocre coffee flavors, give it a try. If not, steer clear and let someone else buy it. (Glad it's a limited edition!)

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