Monday, March 5, 2012

Subtle Differences: A Taste and Purchase Comparison of Theo's 84% Organic Dominican Chocolate versus 85% Organic & Fair Trade Chocolate

There is extra dark chocolate, then there is ultimate dark chocolate. So what is the difference?  Apparently not more than 1% when you are tasting and comparing Theo's Organic 84% Dominican Republic dark chocolate bar against Theo's Organic & Fair Trade 85% Ultimate Dark chocolate bar.

The differences between these two chocolate bars are very subtle.  I have been taste-comparing them every day for a week.  At first, I thought they were exactly the same, so I waited a few more days until the sinus cold that I had caught passed, to see if that would make a difference in their taste.  Then I realized that the Dominican 84% bar was slightly fruity and tangy in comparison. The 85% was slightly chalkier in taste, but the differences were so subtle that I could go back and forth between them and never be quite sure that they were not the same chocolate. 

One major difference that I did find was that Theo's Organic Dominican 84% bar paired well with the Mission Hill 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (extra dry and high in tannins) that I was sipping the other night, whereas Theo's Organic & Fair Trade 85% did not pair well with that wine.

Overall, I liked them both, but preferred the Dominican bar for its fruity tanginess.  If you are choosing between these chocolate bars, here are the facts:
  • Theo's Dominican 84% costs $5 (US) on their website and it is listed as 'organic', but not 'Fair Trade' (only the sugar used is listed as Fair Trade) and it is also listed as Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free and Vegan.
  • Theo's 85% Ultimate Dark bar is Organic and Fair Trade. Bean origin is unknown, but the price is only $4 on the website. It is also listed as Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free and Vegan.

I also tasted these against the Lindt 85% bar.  Sure the Lindt bar is smoother and finer in texture, but it still has that distinct flavour that I can never quite put my finger on, a super sweetness to it which I think has something to do with the mix of beans used, use of vanilla and the roasting or refining process. There is also brown sugar in Lindt's extra dark chocolate (85% and 99%) that is not listed in a lot of other bars in the same cocoa percentage range, which gives it a different flavour.  I'll let you decide for yourself if you prefer Lindt's flavour over that of small bean-to-bar chocolate companies. 

So here is an interesting challenge: Hold a chocolate tasting party and compare Lindt's 85% to Theo's 85% (see below for Theo's website to order) or if you are in Canada and do not want to order online, try Lindt's against President's Choice 85% or a Camino Organic & Fair Trade bar in the same % range.  It makes for an interesting taste comparison. Perhaps you and your chocolate-loving friends can verbalize Lindt's distinct flavour better than I can!  If so, feel free to write it in the Comments area below!

I ordered these two Theo bars from along with several other brands, but you can also order from Theo's website directly.

Theo Organic Fair Trade Ultimate Dark Chocolate, 85% cacao, 3 oz (84g)
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA, USA)
Ingredients: cocoa beans*+, sugar*+, cocoa butter*+, ground vanilla bean*. *Organic  +Fair Trade.
Manufactured on shared equipment with products containing milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts & other nuts.

Theo Organic 84% Dark Chocolate, Cacao Origin: Dominican Republic, 3 oz (85g)
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA, USA)
Ingredients: Cocoa Beans (Dominican Republic)*, Sugar*+, Cocoa Butter*, Ground Vanilla Bean*.
*Organic +Fair Trade Certified. Certified Organic by Washington State Department of Agriculture. Manufactured on shared equipment with products containing wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts and other nuts.

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