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Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee Beans

My mother, the lovely and unable-to-rest-on-her-laurels whisperinggums, has become spectacularly proficient at bringing me back gifts from her travels that invariably bring a smile to my face. Often, but not always, these gifts fall into one of two categories: earrings (which I feel naked without) and chocolate (like you didn’t see that coming).

On a recent work-related trip to Western Australia (did I mention that the lady retired some years back? And currently has about five jobs going at once? I meant it about the resting on her laurels thing), she brought me back a gift of each type. What can I say? I’m a lucky lass. Thanks Mum!

I can’t show you the earrings as they’re already at Smurf Kitchen (where I’ll properly be, finally, as of tomorrow), but I can show you the chocolate.

Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee Beans

Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee

Or, as I like to call it, Attack of the 10 Year Old Who Just Discovered How To Change Fonts And Colours On The Computer.

I was really excited to discover this chocolate nestled in the blue tissue wrapping paper it came cloaked in. Sure, I’m always pleased to find (or be handed) a new chocolate, but what really thrilled me was seeing that Carmel Valley Chocolates is an Australian chocolate company. Hurrah for local chocolate! Yes, I realise that calling a chocolate produced on the other side of the country “local” doesn’t really conform to Locavore standards, but I’ll take what I can get, thank you very much.

Perusing the (somewhat perfunctory) Carmel Valley website, I was doubly pleased to see that the company’s chocolate bars are vegan, dairy free, egg free, wheat and gluten free, and made from non-GM ingredients. Oh, and this particular flavour is 47% organic, but I feel a bit like 47% is neither here nor there.

Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee Beans

I loved the rustic, home-made look of this chocolate with the whole coffee beans peeking out.

Okay. Well. Okay. I can’t put this moment off any longer. I wish I could tell you that I loved the taste of this chocolate as much as I loved the idea of it, but sadly this wasn’t the case. When I first took a bite, my initial reaction was that I hadn’t. Confused? So was I.

The flavour just… wasn’t there. All I got was sweetness, and a grainy texture, and maybe, maybe, a hint of cocoa powder. Friends, I felt what I like to call Sad Inside. However, I hitched up my big girl panties and went back for another taste, this time making sure to get a whole coffee bean in the bite.

Thankfully the coffee beans did bring some life to the party, crunching in the mouth in that delightfully crispy-splintering way that coffee beans have. The coffee beans weren’t acrid or burnt, but rather had a nicely rounded taste that even managed to eke out some cocoa flavours from the surrounding chocolate.

Carmel Valley Chocolates Dark Chocolate with Coffee Beans

More peeping toms! I mean coffee beans. Yes.

For all that this chocolate initially disappointed me, I ultimately came to accept its mild sweetness and coffee flavour. “Accept” isn’t really a ringing endorsement, I know, but at least the chocolate wasn’t unpleasant. I’m happy to have supported an Australian chocolate maker (or I’m happy that my mum did) and would, without a moment’s hesitation, buy more from Carmel Valley if I could. I’d love to try the fig chocolate bar and the spirulina balls, which are purportedly made from dried fruits, spirulina, and coconut.

Any chance you’re heading back west anytime soon, whisperinggums?

20 comments | Leave your own

  1. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella

    Now that is a brilliant idea. You always seem to get coffee beans loose in a bag but putting it in a bar seems like a logical extension of this! 😀

  2. Jess

    I was just about to say, wow, boutique chocolate and Comic Sans font really should not consort. Well, Comic Sans shouldn’t exist end of story, but I’ll make exceptions for childcare service ads, toy labels, etc. But not chocolate. Not even chocolate in teddy bear shape.

    That spirulina and chocolate combination (along with everything else) sounds rather intriguing! Who would have thought algae and chocolate would make sense, but I won’t knock it until I’ve tried it (which may be never, since I don’t have much cause to go to WA in the predictable future).

  3. Simply Life

    oh that is so sweet of your mom!

  4. croquecamille

    I bought some “organic” facial moisturizer one time that ultimately turned out to be something like 10% organic! Lame! That said, it’s too bad this chocolate disappointed, but I think it’s important to continue to support new/small-batch chocolate makers, in hopes that they’ll improve with practice. 🙂

  5. steph

    When I was still living in WA, Carmel Valley chocolate was my favourite – because in Perth there are very few vegan chocolates! The orange and the mint flavours are my preferred, and on a recent trip home to WA my friend was couriering some back for me, and then decided to just try one square, and ended up eating all of it! (two whole bars)

    I’m going back to WA in July, and buying some Carmel Valley chocolate is actually on my list of things to do when I’m there. :o)

  6. whisperinggums

    Ah well, this time it was only ear-rings. Chocolate is not the first thing you think of when you are in the warm Top End. The only crocs (oops, chocs) we saw there were kit kats, snickers and the like! Now, if you were into beer …

  7. thehungryscholar

    I love that last picture. I love when parents bring gifts from trips!

  8. Lele

    Oh God chocolate covered coffee beans are such magic.

  9. Hannah

    Lorraine: You’re right, the concept is spot-on!

    Jess: You know, I’ve never felt that passionately about any font (except, perhaps, wingdings. What on earth is the point of wingdings?), but I do agree that it’s not quite the most serious-looking of fonts! Hmm, if algae does become the hot new thing, I could probably become a millionaire by skimming the surface of Lake Burley Griffin.

    Simply Life: She’s a keeper! 😀

    Camille: That’s exactly how I feel – sadly, these chocolates only seem to be stocked in WA (and one store in NSW), so I might not have the chance to keep up the support. But I would if I could, will if I can! 🙂

    Steph: Oh fantastic!! I’m really, really pleased to hear that their chocolate is generally fantastic and that they’ve got some true supporters out there. I personally can’t stand orange and chocolate but would love to try their mint and nut varieties. Hurrah for Carmel Valley!

    Whisperinggums: The Darwin earrings were wonderfully wonderful – I didn’t feel hard done by at all 😉 And hey, I don’t mind me some beer! Where’s my beer? 😀

    TheHungryScholar: Isn’t it lovely when they do? I’m always happy to know that they didn’t forget they have kids while holidaying. 🙂

    Lele: And a much better/more delicious study aid than Red Bull and Mother!

  10. Agnes

    The flavour is 47% organic and 53% disappointing? 😉 Oh that’s so mean. Naughty Be Fri!

  11. Hannah

    Agnes: But it’s 100% charmingly hand-made, at least!

  12. Toby


  13. Hannah

    Toby: The idea is definitely yum- hopefully my bar was just a little under the weather, so to speak 😀

  14. Dean

    Hi Hannah,

    Sorry to hear that you had to give this particular bar such mediocre marks. Fortunately, dark chocolate and coffee is a very popular combination. You can find a good variety of dark chocolate covered coffee beans, dark chocolate bars and pieces with coffee, as well as clusters and bark. Many are organic, single origin, or sugar free. I’ve put together a collection of 23 great dark chocolate and coffee choices here:

  15. Hannah

    Dean: That’s a pretty enticing round-up… and I’d be willing to review any of them if you wanted to swing some my way 😀 😀

  16. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    Oh that sucks, I was getting all ready to be super excited about a fabulous local chocolate that only the likes of me could get! Well, me and all the other people in this state.

    In a way I’m not too surprised though, as I’m not terribly fond of the name “Carmel Valley” as it makes me imagine Jessica Simpson trying to say “caramel”

  17. Hannah

    Conor: Steph in these comments said that, in her experience, Carmel Valley is great, so I’d be inclined to hope that this was a misstep and you are, indeed, within a hair’s breadth of unique chocolate deliciousness! And sadly, it’s not only the likes of Jessica Simpson who pronounce caramel “carmel” – most of the Americans I’ve met do the same. Silly people. 😛

    1. Jamee

      It’s true; most of us Americans do say “car-mel,” vs “car-a-mel.” 😉 But we are good people!!

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  19. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts

    Why, so you did! How very cool 🙂 I have only had some of the carob blocks so far, and am enjoying those, so will brace myself for possibly faint / sub-optimal flavours in the chocolate. Or, perhaps they read your review and have revised in the 3 years that have passed! I do wish they had a proper website and were more readily available as I want more of the carob bars and driving 40 minutes to get them seems a bit inconvenient.