Mmmm...Theo Organic Fair Trade Chocolate

Mmmm…Theo Organic Fair Trade Chocolate

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Let’s put chocolate in perspective—my perspective. Obtaining and savoring chocolate may not be the ultimate goal of the purpose-driven life, but it is a good companion when traveling down life’s bumpy highway. As a child I discovered that a milk chocolate kiss was better than the wet mushy variety when I fell and scraped my knee, and years later that a chocolate sampler for Valentine’s Day healed my lonely, yearning-for-Rob-Lowe-preteen heart.

Yes, chocolate—milky, dark, filled or nutty—has always held psychological healing properties and given much joy. As an adult my joy of chocolate has not abated, it’s just aged a bit. The adult me is a (mostly) responsible consumer with a more adventurous palette. Adult Me, meet Theo Chocolate, an eco-responsible company catering to the worldly type without neglecting those with more simple tastes.

Theo Chocolate is a company based in Seattle that produces premium organic and Fair Trade specialty chocolates. Yes, folks, it is possible to get that childhood creamy milk chocolate fix as well as quell the adult-centric cravings of dark and gourmet chocolates—in a decidedly responsible, Green Monday approved fashion.

Theo Chocolate was founded by Joseph Whinney, a pioneer in the supply of organic cocoa beans into the United States. Prior to March 2006, all organic chocolate was produced in Europe and imported into the U.S. (a stunning fact). Presently, Theo Chocolates is still the only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the United States (an even more stunning fact).

Theo uses only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably, sourcing these ingredients locally whenever possible, and manufactures these chocolates in a factory that uses green energy sources along with sustainable packaging and printing methods. Theo Chocolate also partners with their growers to ensure a viable living wage for employees, as well as access to education for their families. As if all that weren’t enough to make you want to try Theo, did I mention that they make some delicious chocolates?

As with any green, sustainable, organic product, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the bar). The fairest, greenest chocolate in the world won’t get my bite if it tastes like cardboard. Theo’s Bean-to-Bar method of small batch chocolate production is both modern and artisanal, resulting in a measure of super-fine, super-creamy, super-bean-y chocolate bliss.

Theo—being the worldly, palette-pleasing sort—has entered the foodie realm of creative chocolate pairings with their online shop featuring a Chocolate & Wine as well as Chocolate & Beer pairing kit. In both kits, five of their bars are balanced with beers or wines based on flavor profiles, geographical characteristics, cacao content and alcohol content. I decided to conduct my own pairings with the sample selections. With some trial and error, some classic and some crazy combinations, I found some yummy new ways to enjoy my adult chocolate habit.

Theo treat: Theo and Jane Goodall 45% Milk Chocolate Bar ($5).
This bar is everything one would expect milk chocolate to be. Mild and sweet with no waxy cocoa butter residue, this is a creamy treat.
Favorite pairing: Coffee
My Verdict: This classic, simply sweet bar can’t find a better partner than it’s opposite in tasting notes. The smoky, slightly bitter taste of a dark French roast makes this milk chocolate taste all the sweeter, all the creamier.

Theo treat: Classic Spicy Chile 70% Dark Chocolate Bar ($3.99).
This bar isn’t for your kids’ lunchbox. Truly spicy with nary a trace of sweetness, this is an end-of-the-meal alternative to cheese. But don’t try this with a port; instead try a peppery Syrah (I tried it with a ’98 Powder Keg). Better yet…
Favorite pairing: Tequila
My Verdict: I see a chile pepper and I think tequila. Spicy needs a worthy competitor when fighting for your taste buds, and Tequila is a strong opponent. But don’t get me wrong, these two forces of nature join hands with the high percentage of cacao and make smooth and happy trails from the tip of your tongue clear down your esophagus. This chocolate made the always-elegant Partida Anejo taste downright velvety.

Theo treat: Grey Salted Vanilla Caramels ($8.80).
My favorite of the Theo chocolates we tested, caramel and salt are a classic pairing getting a lot of attention these days. Who doesn’t like a little salt in their sugar? It’s the best of the two snack worlds, and it gets better with the addition of chocolate. Creamy Madagascar vanilla bean caramel is drenched in milk chocolate then lightly sprinkled with crunchy grey sea salt. Mmmm….only one thing made this confection sweeter…
Favorite pairing: Tequila
My Verdict: Yeah, this one surprised me, too. Again, the Tequila of choice was Partida Anejo, which has notes of honeyed vanilla…a note that matches up perfectly with the heavy-handed Madagascar vanilla in the caramels.  The grey sea salt stuck a familiar chord in my taste bud’s memory and the sensation of biting into a salty caramel after a sip of Tequila was far superior to that of licking a salty lime. Overall, this was the winning combination in all my pairings.

Paired or on their own, complex tastes or simple pleasures, Theo Chocolates are innovative confections ready to take your chocolate obsession to a whole new level. Go with it.

Testers, how did you like your Theo Chocolate? Simple and sweet or as a complex treat?

Sherri is co-author of What Would You Do With This Room? My 10 Foolproof Commandments to Great Interior Design, and of course, a wht writer!

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.

18 thoughts on “Mmmm…Theo Organic Fair Trade Chocolate”

  1. I tried the Grey Salted Vanilla Caramels. I have to regretfully say, I wasn’t a fan. In fact, of the four people that tried my little pack, no one liked it. The salt was a bit overpowering. That was the main flavor even when I was well into the chocolate part.

    With that said, I didn’t think to pair it with a strong beverage – that just might be key to enjoyment!

  2. I tried out the Theo and Jane Goodall 45% Milk Chocolate bar, and OMG, yum! I savored that bar of chocolate and stretched it out for about 3 weeks, hah. It was so good! The mix of milk and dark chocolates was perfect, especially for someone like me that tends to shy away from dark chocolate. I agree with @sherrishera , pairing this chocolate with a nice dark cup of coffee or expresso is perfect, and I can’t think of a much better way to end a nice meal.
    Now I’m going to have to try out the Grey Salted Vanilla Caramels! I love chocolate and salt together, and I can only imagine that adding caramel to that mix would be heaven.
    My experience with the Theo chocolates- 5 stars! Really, really tasty, not terribly expensive, great company ethics, what’s not to like? It’s the perfect way to treat yourself!

  3. I tried the Classic Spicy Chile 70% Dark Chocolate Bar, and sadly I didn’t like it. I only didn’t like it because I’m not a fan of dark chocolate. If the chocolate was sweeter, I would have been over the moon. My husband didn’t like the candy at all and he likes dark chocolate. He didn’t quite like the quality of the chocolate.

  4. I received Theo Chocolate’s Grey Salted Vanilla Caramel in Milk Chocolate to taste test. Talk about a treat that didn’t’ last long! I actually waited to share and enjoy them with my husband. Being a lover of fine chocolate and caramel, it wasn’t hard to like this treat.. Fist of all, when they say vanilla, they mean it. It’s loaded with delicious Madagascar vanilla (major plus) and two, a wonderful dusting of grey coarse sea salt. They did this right. Wow, I love that! What a sensation of mouth-watering flavors from this. I can see how Tequila would work well with this too.. but being a milk lover- nothing could couple better for me. What might send this over the edge for me would be if this was made with Dark Chocolate.. Great review @sherrishera. I didn’t know that Theo Chocolates is still the only organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the United States – indeed a stunning fact!

  5. I just recently visted theo and did a tour with them. So fun and of course amazing chocolate. I love the peanut butter and jelly truffels. yum!

  6. I got to sample the Classic Spicy Chile 70% Dark Chocolate Bar and wow! A whole new world of chocolate has opened up to me! I wasn’t expecting this at all.

    The fiery graphics on the label should have clued me in, but I was awaiting sweetness when I took my first bite. Instead, I got the power punch of chile, and after I adjusted my expectations, boy, was it good!

    I shared my bar with a friend who puts hot sauce on everything, and he went right online to find out where to buy his own Theo chocolate.

    Now that you mention it, @sherrishera, tequila would be the perfect chaser.

    5 hot stars for the Spicy Chile. I’d love to try Theo’s Grey Salted Vanilla Caramels next.

  7. I got to try the Organic Milk Chocolate Bar! And I all have to say is wowzers!! It was ridiculously good. Mine was melted. So I threw it in the freezer to save it from the trash. And I am so glad that I did. This was probably the creamiest piece of chocolate that I have ever eaten! It was insane! I just adored the flavor-not too sweet, not too mild, it was just right! Perfection in a bar. And my husband ate 1/2 of the bar eagerly. And he usually hates sweets. I give this bar 5 big stars for outstanding flavor, texture, and consistency, And major kudos to the company for being so green and ethical with their business practices.

  8. I got to try Theo Classic Spicy Chile and wasn’t a fan. Too much chile for my taste buds although I am a fan of spice. I’ve had spicy chocolate before but like it to be a bit more subtle than what this bar offers. If you like a strong punch of spice in your dark chocolate then this is the one for you!

    I adore the packaging and support the company’s eco goals…I’ll have to have a go at the vegan chocolate they have – yum!!

  9. I got to try one of each, because when I large box of chocolate shows up at your office; it your duty to test them all. I loved all 3 of these so very, very much! The organic ingredients and do-good practices only adding to the love affair.

    The Theo and Jane Goodall 45% Milk Chocolate Bar is delicious. The best of both worlds: creamy milk with a hint of bitter dark. This bar vanished quickly!

    The Classic Spicy Chile 70% Dark Chocolate Bar is an acquired taste. I liked it a lot, but it is really not what you expect from chocolate, it’s quite spicy! The good part, you only need a tiny bit of it to be satisfied. I couldn’t see eating the whole bar in one sitting. That’s a good thing.

    But my absolute favorite was the insanely good Grey Salted vanilla caramels. Like, I couldn’t even speak while eating the first one kind of good. Vanilla kissed caramel, dipped in creamy chocolate then sprinkled with gourmet salt; my god! The taste is incredible. Honestly, this may be my favorite chocolate treat EVER. @sherrishera, I totally get the tequila pairing! And what a fabulous idea.

    I can give nothing but 5 stars to Theo. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about the caramels since!

  10. I tried the Theo and Jane Goodall 45% Milk Chocolate Bar and I’m not going to lie, it was too good!

    I tried to save this bar so that I could eat it closer to the review so that the taste would be fresh in my mind. But a night of PMS and I couldn’t rip open that paper wrapping fast enough! I told myself that I would only eat a little piece and save the rest. I ate the whole dang bar in one sitting, probably in less than 5 minutes! I couldn’t stop myself!

    It was superb! The chocolate melted right in my mouth and had just enough sweetness, creamy texture that didn’t melt at the touch of your fingers but melted in your mouth, and a hint of dark chocolate that might just send you over the edge!

    5 yummy stars from me!

  11. I agree with @Stef that the Chile Chocolate is an acquired taste. I did like it a lot (especially experimenting with the pairings) but it’s not exactly a go-to chocolate. I imagine it would be great in some kind of cookie or hot drink recipe…ideas?
    All in all, these are great quality chocolates and I was definitely impressed with them.

  12. I tried the Classic Spicy Chili 70% Dark Chocolate bar. First of all, I was lucky I even got to sample this because my husband snatched it up and said he would be testing this one. Spicy foods are his favorite. Luckily, I was able to get him to share so I could have some too. I LOVE dark chocolate and eat it quite often. The added chili in this made this chocolate so interesting. It had a tiny bit of spice…just enough to taste the chili, but not really burn. It really was a tasty combination. I give this chocolate 5 stars. Very yummy and quite interesting flavor!

  13. I was just at theo for tour and chocolate tasting. that place is amazing not only are their chocolates so good the staff are so nice. my fav is there peanut putter and jelly truffel things so good like crack addictive.

  14. I got the Classic Spicy Chile and my boyfriend and I practically inhaled it! I kind of wish I hadn’t opened it when he was around because I would’ve eaten the other half of the bar myself. :)

    I looooooove dark chocolate and spicy foods, so this was perfect, but it’s definitely strong. The 70% dark chocolate is bitter but balances well with the spice. And the quality of the chocolate was very smooth and rich.

    I liked Theo bars so much I went out a few days later and bought the Cherry and Almond. Also delicious, but I think I’m sold on the Spicy Chile as a fave.

    5 Stars from me (and my boyfriend).

  15. Wonderful review, @SherriShera! I learned so much more about this great company thanks to you.

    I too received the Spicy Chile for review, and I have to say that I was a bit surprised when I took the first bite. I’ve eaten chocolates in the past that were combinations of sweet and savory, but this one was so unique that it took a little bit of getting used to. I 100% agree that it’s not a bar you can consume completely in one shot. It’s something to be savored; to let linger on the taste buds a while. And now that I know it should be eaten like an end-of-the-meal alternative to cheese, I am regretting eating the entire bar (over the course of a few days). I always seemed to take a little bite in between meals when I craved something sweet but not *too* sweet. It was wonderful for that, but now I really want to try it after a meal. I guess I need to purchase another bar. Darn! :)

    Four big stars for me!

  16. All this talk about chocolate has given me cravings! Good thing I’m going food shopping soon! Great review Sherri! I’ll definitely have to try a Theo bar for myself!

  17. I got to try the Theo and Jane Goodall 45% milk chocolate bar and this was a mighty tasty bar of chocolate. It was creamy and had the complex flavor of milk and dark chocolates. I actually managed to make my bar last a couple of weeks (Yay, me!). I will say that I prefer a completely dark chocolate with very little sweetness and my hubby prefers a milk chocolate with no bitterness, but we both liked this. Of course, being the weirdo he is, the hubs asked if the Jane Goodall bar contained pieces of real chimp…yes, we’re going to hell…4 stars from me!

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