“ Brand: Co-Op / Type: Milk „
What a surprise to find a supermarket own-brand chocolate bar is so good. This Co-op milk chocolate bar is not only Fairtrade, but my favourite of all chocolate bars at this price level.
I usually buy a 45g bar, which is divided into nicely chunky segments that allow you to really enjoy the chocolate's taste and texture. I find both to be equal to chocolate normally priced much higher. The flavour is very chocolatey, without being cloying or overly sweet. Nice and clean. The texture is superb too: very smooth, becoming creamy as soon as you start chewing. No hint of graininess.
The 150g bar is good for sharing or eating over a few days. You don't get the full effect of the texture because the chocolate is fairly thin, but the taste is there.
They aren't shown here, but the 45g milk bars also come with caramel and orange creme fillings. Like the chocolate itself, the fillings are of a high quality, flavoursome but not sickly. The caramel in particular is nice and fluid, which makes it light. I can recommend these too, and in fact they tend to run out quite regularly at my local Co-op!
"Good heavens," I hear you cry, "David's writing a review of a chocolate bar!" I know, I know, it's so unlike me, isn't it? Ahem. Still, now the shock's out of the way, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. What we have here is a bar with the descriptive though rather unimaginative name of "The co-operative Fairtrade milk chocolate" (their capitalisation). Sadly the branding consultants got hold of the Co-op not so long ago and insisted it change its friendly, traditional name to the longer (and duller) "co-operative". Well, I'm a contrary sort, so I'm afraid I'm staying with "Co-op" here.
This bar gets off on the right foot (if bars can be said to have feet) by being notably inexpensive: just 44p in my local Co-op, which was a very pleasant surprise given the 66p (!) being charged for a perfectly ordinary Wispa in the newsagent across the street. For your 44p you get a 45g bar of chocolate, with the Fairtrade logo prominently positioned to the right of a photo of a smiling cocoa farmer from Ghana, where the Co-op's suppliers - Kuapa Kokoo - are based. (The bar itself, though, is made in Germany.) 68% of the ingredients are certified Fairtrade: the milk is not as it comes from Europe.
Time for the dreaded nutritional information, so look away now if you don't want to know the results. A bar provides 240 kcal, which is a little high but not too awful, 23.2g of sugars and 14.6g of fat, and the Co-op should be praised for providing these figures - and the information that the bar is vegetarian - in clear, easily read text on the wrapper. Inside the wrapper, incidentally, is a fairly interesting piece about the Co-op's commitment to Fairtrade: apparently they sell more Fairtrade chocolate than all the other supermarkets put together!
The outer layer of the wrapping simply unwraps in the old-fashioned way, but inside that is a layer of gold foil enclosing the chocolate itself. This has to be ripped open, and if the chocolate has melted at all, perhaps on a warm summer's day, this can be rather a pain to do. Inside is a very conventional-looking chocolate bar divided into six chunky square sections, which break off quite cleanly but with a satisfying amount of effort required to do this. I do much prefer bars which aren't too soft and which - Cadbury Flakes excepted, of course - don't just fall to bits on their own!
The bar doesn't smell very strongly of anything much, which does hold back the mouthwatering for a moment, but the taste is absolutely divine - perhaps unsurprising, as the Co-op collaborate with Divine Chocolate in their Fairtrade work! This chocolate has a high milk solids content of 27% and a cocoa solids content of 28% (as a comparison, Cadbury Dairy Milk has 20% for each) and the extra milk in particular leads to a beautifully smooth and creamy eating experience. (Did I really just use the phrase "eating experience"? Oh dear.) It slips down very easily - too easily! - and there is none of the thirst-inducing aftertaste so many chocolate bars leave.
The Co-op's bar is remarkably good, in fact one of the best high street chocolate bars available. It tastes much more expensive than it actually is, and you can feel good about buying it as well thanks to its Fairtrade certification. The only minor fly in the ointment is that fiddly inner wrapper, but it's in no way a show-stopper. Well done, Co-op, and keep up the good work.
Hats off to the Co-op for deciding to make ALL their own-brand chocolate Fair Trade (not to mention their own-label teas and coffees). But the real question is whether they have had to compromise the quality and the price to do so? If not, you have to question why the other big supermarkets can't do the same thing... Are they charging a hefty premium for the Fair Trade label unnecessarily? And if so, shouldn't we be questioning their ethics??
Anyway, enough preaching. What about the chocolate? We've tasted this - and several others in the range - against the equivalent Green & Blacks, Divine and Cadbury's Dairy Milk. It's certainly at least as as smooth as the G&B and less cloyingly sweet than the Dairy Milk. Price-wise it's extremely good value. I even let my daughter use it in her wicked chocolate brownies, which call for almost 400g!! She gets away with using two 150g bars (one milk, one dark) and the brownies are probably the best you ever tasted
The best of the whole range (in our opinion as a family) is sadly not listed on DooYou and doesn't seem to be as widely available as the Milk, Dark, Fruit & Nut, and White versions... It's a smaller bar -100g I think- which has small nibs of cocoa and spiced orange in it, and it tastes as though it should have cost £4.50, rather than the current price of around £1.09 in our local store.
150g and 45g. Rich and smooth milk chocolate.