By David Scott
It is always nice to get a parcel. Particularly when you don't know what's inside (unless you have a stalker – which I don't, to the best of my knowledge). It's particularly nice when that parcel turns out to contain four large bars of delicious-sounding chocolate.
Seed and Bean produces 100 per cent organic and ethical chocolate. Rather than ship in organic and fair trade chocolate in chilled HGVs, like some other suppliers, Seed and Bean handmake its chocolate in batches in a small facility in Nottinghamshire meaning more local employment and fewer food miles.
Seed and Bean uses cocoa sourced from Sao Tome Islands off the coast of West Africa, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and share its knowledge and experience to advise the growers how to make the most of their plots using organic techniques. This not only means reducing carbon emissions and the use of harmful pesticides but decreasing costs for the producers by using less fossil fuels.
The range of flavours on offer is wide and appealing and, on occasion, such as Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp Oil, satisfies its claim to be 'just a little daring'. Otherwise, whilst not always commonly seen in chocolate bars, the flavour combinations are classic combinations which work – which is no bad thing in my opinion. Wacky and experimental flavours often add up to weird and disappointing in my experience.
The packaging has a premium feel and recyclable, with the foil wrappers made from trees and fully home compostable. The chocolate doesn't disappoint either and the product will be quite at home in the luxury chocolate bar section on the supermarket shelves.
The flavours we got to try were Mandarin and Ginger, Extra Dark, Cornish Sea Salt and Sicilian Hazelnut (all £2.50/85g, most available from Planet Organic), which are all vegan (others in the range are vegetarian). All were delicious with a good cocoa content. Particular favourites were the Mandarin and Ginger, which had a lovely flavour of mandarin and a warming background note of ginger spice, and Cornish Sea Salt which had a pleasingly good hit of salt that lingered on the palate. The Extra Dark chocolate had a deep bittersweet flavour that would be a perfect partner to an espresso or a dram of whiskey. The Sicilian Hazelnut had a smooth subtle flavour of hazelnuts which was perfectly pleasant but, for my taste, would have benefitted from a little crunch of nut.
I'd certainly be pleased to try some of the other flavours, such as Lemon and Cardamom, Lavender, Lemon and Poppy Seed, and Cornish Sea Salt and Lime.
My wife and I polished off all four bars in fewer days than we should have. This is grown-up chocolate to be savoured, not wasted on the children.
At just under £2.50 for an 85kg bar it is competitively priced at the premium end of the market and just a little more expensive per 100g than Green & Black's, one of the leading brands. However, with Seed and Bean the only UK chocolate company to receive a 100 per cent ethical accreditation which guarantees that ingredients are always organic, it may well be worth shelling out a few pence more.