Thursday, January 5, 2012

Koko Black chocolate

In Perth's fanciest shopping precinct (or at least, the fanciest I venture into), there is a fancy chocolate shop. Koko Black has several stores around Australia, with the Claremont store being the first, currently only, in Perth.

To highlight my point about 'fancy', they call the stores salons rather than stores. Truly. I discovered this when I looked at their webpage and thought I had inadvertently found a Koko Black hairdresser's.

I forgive them the fanciness, though, because they make impressive chocolate. At the Claremont store (salon...), you can also watch chocolate being made and there is a chocolate-themed cafe, which incorporates some of the inside space and then spills out on to the pavement. After looking at the menu online, I now wish I'd tried it out on my visits, rather than just gazing at the chocolate available for purchase.

Given that this chocolate is a little pricier than my usual purchases - the 100g blocks cost around $8 - it was something I'd mentioned in the lead up to my birthday and Christmas. Between us, Mr Bite and I ended up with three blocks, thus allowing me to not only try Koko Black produce for the first time, but to make comparisons across flavours.

I do think it's only fair to include a warning, for those who aren't fond of fruit in their chocolate, and especially aren't fond of orange. Look away from the orange and place your faith in cocoa nibs!

As the above picture highlights, our selection included 54% Dark Chocolate with Walnut & Crystallised Ginger; 80% Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs; and 54% Dark Chocolate with Orange and Almond. All are dairy free.

All of the 'bits', in terms of nuts and fruit and nibs, are on the top of the bars. However, because these are fancy bars, the top is actually the bottom, at least if you are like me and think that the squares have to count as the top.

Right? Definitely the top.

This approach to chocolate construction, where the non-chocolate ingredients are left somewhat separate from the chocolate, is one I used to be skeptical of. I quite like bits in my chocolate. If the bits are separate, I tend to eat them separately, and the whole experience is different to when they are mixed throughout the bar.

However, I am now a convert. After the Harem Dream chocolate I reviewed last year, which had a similar approach, I realise that this separate business works wonderfully when the chocolate is good enough to stand alone.

This chocolate is good enough to stand alone. As a bonus, if you are in a house where one person doesn't like nuts, and the other person doesn't want a lot of ginger or any orange peel, you can easily cope with this. You just take the bits you don't like off.

In terms of flavours, the 54% dark chocolate in the Walnut & Ginger and Orange & Almond blocks was the same. It was wonderful. The 50 - 70% cocoa range is the chocolate category I most commonly consume, and I think this rates as amongst the best I've had.

It is a relatively sweet dark chocolate. However, the sweetness isn't cloying. The tastes are smooth, reminiscent of brown sugar and fudge, with no hint of bitterness and plenty of cocoa. I suspect it would suit people who are tentative around dark chocolate.

Mr Bite is very fond of orange chocolate, so he was happy with the orange pieces decorating the Orange & Almond block. He also enjoyed walnut-free pieces from the ginger block. For my part, I found that the whole (and I think raw) nuts made a wonderful flavour and texture ontrast to the dark chocolate. As a bonus, they also worked well as hand holds, an effective way of not geting your fingers chocolatey when eating chocolate at room temperature in Australian summer!

With my enjoyment of the 54% cocoa blocks, I was really, really looking forward to the 80% cocoa nib option.

Again, there was no bitterness. Deep, deep flavours and underlying notes of burnt toffee made a perfect, delightful contrast with the crunchyness of the nibs. I didn't find the cocoa nibs to carry much of a taste on their own, but when set against the main chocolate block the texture provided a nice edge.

All in all, I would recommend this chocolate without hesitation. And now I've ventured in, I suspect I'll be trying more flavours. Maybe for Easter...

Have you tried Koko Black? What is your favourite cocoa percent range?


  1. interesting thoughts on koko black - I bought a single chocolate there on a lunch break before christmas and liked it but it wasn't a flavour I usually eat and I sort of thought there was a good reason - but it was nice - maybe I should head on there come birthdays time for the chocolate lovers in my life!

  2. That chocolate looks wonderful. I love the look of the flavored pieces nesting right on top of the chocolate. I agree that 50-70% is the best! I'm surprised to hear that the 80% with nibs wasn't bitter... I find nibs to be bitter on their own, but I suppose if the chocolate was good quality, it would mask that.

  3. Those squares are So the bottom ;-)
    I love chunky bits in the chocolate as well, so I would probably give these a good crack. As for percentage likes? I like a good 70% ish range. 30% too dangerous eaten too quickly, 50% only in cooking. 70% seems to be juuuust right.

  4. I just laughed out loud and then loved you a little bit more for that link-back/reference. I've got my own first Koko Black review coming up soon... by which I mean I've got the photos and the tasting notes and you'll probably see them in August. :P I'll definitely get onto that cocoa nib one soon!

  5. I think it probably is a birthday / present type chocolate shop, rather than an every day type chocolate shop. With that said, if I worked within walking distance of the Perth store, I suspect I'd be in dangerous territory on my lunch breaks!

  6. I was quite surprised too - I do usually associated the 80% plus range with bitterness and cocoa nibs on top seemed like it might tip things over the edge! I guess it does go to show how much the chocolate making process matters.

  7. Top!

    70% does seem to be a winner. Even 50% I'm capable of eating rather quickly, so the slowing-down-consumption aspect is a bonus :)

  8. I'll look forward to hearing how you found it! And what flavour you tried for that matter, as I'm pretty sure it didn't involve orange, and probably not ginger, and by the sounds of it not nibs either (if that is yet to be tried) :)

  9. Lookee your powers of deduction go :D

  10. Just call me Detective Kari :)

  11. I'm a big fan of Koko Black. It is the perfect decadent dessert venue. I particularly love their seasonal desserts, they did a great range of blood orange last summer, must pop by and see what they have on now. Oh and Easter - it is definitely worth a visit at Easter time.

  12. Ok, I *really* have to go and try the cafe! Thanks for the recommendation, I can't believe I didn't look at it properly when I was in the store (well, I guess I can, because my attention was 100% held by the actual chocolate).

  13. those are pretty! I like my chocolate as black as my soul, so... north of 90%. HOWEVER, I've had 70%s that were so rough that their bitterness spoke of 100%, and alternatively had a 99% that was so smooth that you'd never have guessed the number. In the end, like with SO many things, the number doesn't matter as much as the quality of what lies beneath...

  14. @Stephanie
    Indeed...that must be a life lesson :)

  15. Indeed...that must be a life lesson :)


I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook ( and Twitter (