Let’s start the new year with testing out a mystery chocolate box! (Spoilers inside!)
It can be super intimidating to get started in craft chocolate, especially if you’re not near a lot of places to get craft chocolate. Which makes craft chocolate subscription boxes extra awesome: you can try bars from several makers at once without going to a store or doing hours of research online!
Kekao is one of the newest chocolate subscription box makers on the market, and they caught my eye as one of the few shipping inclusion bars, or chocolate with stuff in it besides chocolate. At $35/month including shipping, they’re doing about the same pricing as Bar & Cocoa, so I was super curious to see what the differences were.
Before we get into the review, here’s what I think about when trying chocolate subscription boxes:
- How easy is it for me to get these bars in Seattle? Why make an order when I could pick it up at Chocolopolis or DeLaurenti? (This is definitely the ‘your mileage will vary’ section.)
- Is it a good value? Am I saving any time or money on this?
- Do I like the chocolate? The important part! (Mind you, I’m someone who buys bars just to try them, so I mainly want interesting bars.)
First, here’s what you get in the box:
- Four bars of chocolate
- A straw Kekao bag
- And a ‘how to taste chocolate’ instructional sheet
The informational sheet was new for this box, and I like how it discusses the prep you should do before tasting! This is super important and often overlooked, because otherwise you’ll just taste what you ate last. (I don’t think you should necessarily brush your teeth before tasting though. I go for a glass of warm water!)
With that, let’s dive in! From here on out, I’m giving full spoilers for the bars I got, their value, and all the fine print. You have been warned.
I was the most excited to try this bar of the set because I have been in love with the PiSA bars Soma’s making. (Try the 55% if you can. So good.)
Yet this was not what I was expecting from PiSA. You get this incredibly dark, woody/tobacco scent, that opens with even more tobacco when you first taste it. Then it becomes this creamy licorice bar, and ends woody with a delicate orange finish. It’s really intense for a 75%, almost eating like an 80%. I feel like this is for whisky and gin fans, folks who want those intense herbal notes in their chocolate. I could totally see this in whisky and scotch pairings everywhere in Seattle.
This brand is sold at DeLaurenti, but I don’t know if this bar is sold locally.
Duffy’s Fine Chocolate, 72% Panama Tierra Obscura
~$9 (sold out)
Not gonna lie – the ‘fruity liquorice’ tasting note on the front threw me almost immediately. Was it going to be fruit then licorice, or what? So many questions.
This was an interesting bar as it had this really slow melt that grew from being kind of dusty to fruit and biscuit notes, almost buttery, with a graham cracker finish. It’s a little crumbly textured and I could see it being perfect for s’mores.
Duffy’s is based in the UK, and one of the harder brands to find stateside. So that was a definite plus for this box!
Michel Cluizel, 72% Noir de Cacao
$7.99 at Caputo’s, $7.39 at Chocosphere
Michel Cluizel is a really established brand; you chocolate fiends might know him from his adorable white and dark chocolate mushroom confections, which are the cutest.
When you first smell this bar, it’s just straight up super strong varnish and tobacco, super pungent and intense. But as you taste it, it’s this whirlwind of (much gentler) spices, herbal notes, raisin, and even a spicy/peppery finish. I surprisingly considered this bar to be the most interesting of the bunch, because while the initial smell was so strong, it bounced between such a unique set of notes I wanted to try more just to unravel the puzzle completely.
Chocolate Naive, 67% Ambrosia (Bee Pollen & Honey)
$5.49 at Caputo’s
First, how cute is this mini bar? Maybe not the most sharing friendly, but just adorable!
As for the taste, it starts off gently sweet, then the honey just comes in and steals the spotlight. This is a winner-takes-all honey note, strong and clean and definitely sweet, with this super gentle earthy/mushroom finish. It’s just an unexpected progression, beginning to end.
This bar is sold at DeLaurenti’s in Seattle, and since I know Naive is always putting out new products I kind of wish this was a bar I couldn’t pick up locally. But it was fun to finally try some! (I’d been distracted by the peanut butter bar and regret nothing.)
At ~$29.87 for the bars before tax, if you include shipping you’re not getting a giant savings here versus buying the bars at Caputo’s or Bar & Cocoa. Is that a bad thing? No, it just means those of you hoping for a screaming deal will want to wait for sales instead.
I think this is for folks who want surprises, but don’t want to go searching from scratch for chocolate. Or maybe just want to try new things, even if they’re new bars from makers they’re already aware of. Like it was really nice to revisit makers I haven’t tried in forever because I’ve been so busy playing brand catch up.
Would I buy from them again? Yes, but I also wish there was a way to order every other month or a ‘give me all the inclusions’ option. Or even an option to get just mini bars or even chunks of bars like what Chocolate Bar NZ does, because I would be so happy with that. (I bet it would be a food safety nightmare, but I can dream.) Basically I have too many bars in the house to really get monthly deliveries, and I’m already usually getting whatever bars I want to try.
So those are my thoughts on Kekao! Have you tried them out? I’d love to hear all about it!