Green & Black’s got its beginnings in 1991, when Craig Sams, founder of the English organic food company Whole Earth, was sent a bar of organic 70% cocoa dark bittersweet chocolate. Sams and his wife, Josephine Fairley, environment columnist for The London Times, began production shortly thereafter. In 1994, on a trip to Belize, they reached agreement with a group of cocoa growers for a fair trade arrangement, and also created Maya Gold, which won the UK’s first fairtrade mark. The rest, as they say, is history. The provenance of the name, “Green & Black’s,” should be obvious: organic chocolate with a dark, rich color and flavor.
The Organic Milk Chocolate boasts 34% cocoa (and how often do you see milk chocolate boasting cocoa at all?), and I have to say I was impressed, even though I’m not a particular fan of milk chocolate. It’s a trifle sweet, but ultimately there is a near-perfect balance of chocolate, milk and sugar. The taste is chocolate and sweet cream, with a slightly nutty aftertaste, and while the label notes that it was produced in a factory that handles various kinds of nuts, it doesn’t seem as though the aftertaste is added — it really appears as a natural part of the chocolate. The texture is firm for a milk chocolate, but very pleasing.
Maya Gold contains a minimum of 55% cocoa, with orange and spices. Considering my general reaction to what I consider “adulterants” in chocolate, it was with some trepidation that I took my first bite, but I have to admit I was completely captivated. I may have to change my attitude about flavorings in chocolate: again, the balance is nearly perfect, with the flavor of orange definitely there but in no way overshadowing the chocolate, and slight hints of cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg as well. The blend is so apt that it’s hard to tell where one flavor leaves off and the next begins. The scent is definitely tempting and the texture is a little brittle, but ultimately pleasing. This is definitely a tropical gem.
The Bittersweet Dark Chocolate is just that: again, the balance is right where it should be between bitter and sweet: the sugar supports the chocolate without dominating it at all. The aftertaste is rich and lingers in the mouth. Strangely, the texture is less brittle than Maya Gold, and very satisfying — firm enough, but not hard and brittle.
It occurs to me that the perfect description of Green & Black’s chocolates is “balance.” The milk chocolate doesn’t forget that there’s chocolate involved, the Maya Gold does its best to call up the flavors of the tropics, and the bittersweet dark is commanding without being overpowering. You can tell by smelling these bars that the central idea here is “chocolate” — the scent is as rich and balanced as the taste.
Green & Black’s makes not only chocolate for eating, but for baking and drinking as well, and their US Web site contains, among other things, a handy function that finds sources for Green & Black’s within whatever radius you choose of your location. I am delighted to discover that my neighborhood CVS Pharmacy is on the list.
Mmm — guess where I’m headed next.