Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending a gift voucher at Oxfam, and with a few spare dollars after my first choice (a pretty necklace made in Kenya!) I lingered over the chocolate and coffee. For the sake of variety and trying something new, I picked out four bars of Endangered Species Chocolate. This brand promotes ethical buying on multiple fronts: the cocoa is grown sustainably, its farmers are paid fully and fairly, and 10% of the brand's net profits are donated to help support "species, habitat and humanity". Each flavour of the 40g bars features a different endangered species with a write-up of its life history, behaviour and the nature of threat against it - and they cost $3.95 a piece!
Over the course of a week, I sampled dark chocolate with cherry (featuring the koala), dark chocolate with tangerine (zebra), milk chocolate with peanut butter (giraffe) and milk chocolate with mocha (snow leopard). These are all combinations that I'm into, far more than mint or caramel, yet I was disappointed by this chocolate. The milk version (52% cocoa) had a slightly waxy, rather than creamy, texture. The dark chocolate (70% cocoa) was better, but reminded me of the underwhelming Dagoba chocolate, probably because the additions were barely detectable. But Dagoba is held in high esteem elsewhere by greater connoisseurs than I, so these two brands may appeal to other chocolate-lovers: they're just too subtle for my vulgar tastes! It needs to be acknowledged that both Endangered Species and Dagoba brands are produced in relatively ethical circumstances, and buying a cheaper and more enjoyable block of Lindt isn't exactly a direct trade. So, what can a chocoholic do with, say, $20?
- Buy 5 of these 40g Endangered Species bars (that's 200g of the good stuff), safe in the knowledge that's its a luxury at no-one else's expense but underwhelmed by the tantalising flavours promised;
- Buy two blocks of Green & Black's (also about 200g and available from Oxfam), and have quite a few dollars extra in my pocket. It's more to my taste and it's also fair trade and organic.
- Buy two blocks of Lindt - its flavours are bold, its the cheapest of the lot. The downside is that I know nothing about its origins - my $12 change is probably best used as a donation to Oxfam or another worthy charity.