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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Coco-Zen Delivers Great Packaging, Very Good Truffles

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM


I get foodstuffs regularly with packaging ranging from non-existent to pretty boxes tied up in a bow, but the packaging for Coco-Zen's Truffles-To-Go made me wish I didn't have to taste the contents.

The Pacifica company's truffles come in a stainless steel tiffin which just screams "gift."

The stainless steel, stacking and clamping, circular containers make hip lunch boxes -- their purpose in India where they originated. They're expensive enough on their own that I was surprised Coco-Zen only charges $34 for the whole package. Amazon sells the same tiffin, empty, for $25 so you are getting the 10, 1.7 oz (huge) Fair Trade Certified truffles for an incremental $9, less than $1 per truffle.

The packaging is great; the truffles, very good. The "To-Give" packaging accommodates two flavors, including vegan choices. I did open the package after all, and did taste all the variations (no re-gifting for me). But that's why I get paid the little bucks. Here are my impressions in order of preference:

Chocolate Latte

Light coffee flavor permeates the dense truffle and creates a very pleasant, soft, milky, tiny chocolate cup of latte, experience. There's the tiniest hint of spice, as if the latte had a modest dusting. The rough roasted coffee bean on top takes away from the experience: toss it or eat it separately.

Chocolate Chai Spice

This tastes like Christmas because the flavors are reminiscent of fruit cake (sans neon dried-fruit flavors) All the flavors of chai come through, from clove and cinnamon to nutmeg and cardamom.

Chocolate Espresso Bean (Vegan)

Very espressoey. A bite brings to mind the color, texture, and assumed flavor, of a fresh disk of ground coffee being packed by the barista before she screws the silver vessel into the steam machine. The rich flavor is more intense than the latte. You could use this for a pick-me-up.

Chocolate Coconut (Vegan)

Creamy and rich. My mother used to make us a treat she called simply "goop" which was a thick, fudgy, stove-top chocolate filled with coconut and other motherly love. It was awesome. This reminds me of that, but without the texture of the shredded coconut. A good blend of the two signature flavors.

Dark Chocolate

Exactly as described. Dark cacao comes through; rich, modestly earthy, and full of ebony cacao powder notes.

Peanut Butter

According to my wife, "Like a Reese's peanut butter cup, but not as good." The flavor profile is similar but less sweet than traditional peanut butter cup variants. There's a soft savory note, and the milky creaminess mellows the flavor. Again there's a light note of spice, which could come from the fair trade chocolate itself. It's nice if you think Reese's are too sweet. Otherwise, you may prefer that classic treat.

Chocolate Mint Bliss

Tastes like a high-end "After Eight" after-dinner mint.

Chocolate Orange Blossom with Almonds (Vegan)

Serious orange flavoring (like almond extract is to almond versus almond flavor itself) impregnates the chocolate. Reminds me of a Droste chocolate orange slice. Almonds are a modest addition overpowered by the strength of orange essence. Not my favorite.

In addition to the "To-Give" packaging in the Tiffin, Coco-Zen offers smaller stainless steel, "To-Go" sizes and other packaging choices. Prices range from $8 to over $50 and are available exclusively through Coco Zen's website. Christmas is in the distance; could be Tiffins and truffles for my friends this year.

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Ben Narasin


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