edgy, arty [taza] counter culture [coffee]

On a whim over the weekend, I stopped into Bangor’s Natural Living Center, to see if they had any of the new Taza flavors. They didn’t have any. So I purchased the Taza Counter Culture Coffee Chocolate Mexicano disc.

Let me explain.

Taza Chocolate is one of those companies that has been very successful in getting their product out there, Hi-Vis style. What is their product? For those unfamiliar, Taza is the best-known stone ground chocolate company in the U.S. Stone ground implies a few things: a rougher end-product, an imperfect product, or as Taza suggests, explosive flavor popping palate action. Yeehaw – I agree with Taza.

Being that zero (0) fibers of my being are truly Counter Culture, I thought I’d try my best to imitate this edgy chocolate through the medium most familiar to me. Black and white photography is about as counter culture arty as I can get. Yes, I just purchased a Dire Straits record today. But I recently read about the extraordinarily wide-reaching extent of Dire Straits’ success at the height of their popularity. Not Counter Culture. Yes, I just purchased a T. Rex cd today. But Marc Bolan experienced even more success than Dire Straits, in his own right. After all, Mark Knopfler has never had a variety hour television program. …that I know of. Not Counter Culture.

Summary: I am the anti-counter culture. I’m just twenty to thirty years behind. Please check back in 2031, when I may have finally obtained those new flavored Taza discs. Personally, I can’t wait!

Black and whites coming to you courtesy of my visit to Fort Knox, where I saw the long-but-lively production of Hamlet. Thanks to friends Joe and Jane (and pup Ladybird) for a lovely afternoon and evening.

I find it difficult to seriously critique Taza chocolate, because I love it so much. However, the one complaint I’ve had with each and every one of their flavored products is that the flavor is subliminal to the point of being invisible. Oops. How will the Counter Culture Coffee compete? Counter culturally, perhaps?

After unwrapping the waxed paper covering (one of my favorite parts), I was greeted by an aroma of full-blown, all-out coffee tantalization. Notes of sweet sugar, bitter fruit, and a dark-but-not-burnt roast churned forward to meet me halfway (“in the middle” didn’t work linguistically here, but I clearly still have that Diamond Rio Mullet City video stuck in my head). The coffee aroma was not overpowering, but melded nicely with the chocolate itself, which accounted for the sweeter side of the coffee scent.

I found the first taste to be fruit-filled, followed by a punch of coffee, teeth-grinding sugar appearing on the scene simultaneously.  The sugar played nicely with the coffee, and back and forth the tastes moved across the palate. Not the biggest fan of coffee, I do prefer to go big or go home and drink the darkest roast I can find – if drinking any at all. So, the fullness of the roasted coffee present in this bar was a huge bonus to me.

Counter Culture Coffee, headquartered in Durham, NC, roasts the beans for this bar a notch darker than usual. This darkness helps to contrast with the 50% dark Dominican Republic-origin cacao. 50%… dark? Not what you may normally associate together. Well, to be labeled dark chocolate, according to U.S. FDA standards, there must be at least 35% chocolate liquor, and less than 12% milk solids. Were you familiar with these chocolate laws that have been delivered unto us? To recap, milk chocolate can be dark chocolate and dark chocolate can be not dark. I think that a bar labeled 35% dark would definitely be Counter Culture.

To cap off the tasting experience, I’ll state that my thoughts progressed from estimating the depth of the chocolate, to wondering if this was due to the darkness of the roast, to appreciating the sweet finish that kept me coming back for more. And then there was none, the two generous discs being gone. In their wake were deep undulating coffee waves, and a motley assortment of flotsam ‘n’ jetsam sugars granules.

Please note: if you do not enjoy a mild sensation of grittiness or soft crunchiness, this bar may not be for you. If you do, eat up. And if you happen to have any sweet cherries on hand, I found they paired nicely with the chocolate.

Taza Chocolate

561 Windsor Street
Somerville, MA 02143-4192

For tour inquiries (tours just $5 per person), call 617.284.2232.

One day, I will visit Taza. For now, tune into The District Chocoholic’s latest Boston adventure for such tales of delight.

A recent Taza blog bestowed accolades on Counter Culture Coffee’s latest tricks.

And find out more about Counter Culture Coffee and their good deeds. As for myself, I’ll probably be finding out about them in one to one point five score.


23 thoughts on “edgy, arty [taza] counter culture [coffee]

  1. Okay, here is where I will finally, sheepishly confess my bewilderment. Where in the NLC do you find this chocolate?!? I look every time I go there, and all I ever notice is the carob bars and the animal bars by the register.

    Did you go up the bridge while you were at Fort Knox? Kevin often tortures me with talk of a trip up to the observatory. I am deathly afraid of bridges, so I am vehemently against going to the top, but I’ve decided that I will try at some point.

    I love how you matched the photos of Fort Knox with the shape and feel of the chocolate!

    1. Brianne, ha really? I find this pretty silly. So, um, the chocolate is right by the registers, in probably the same place you’re looking. You need to look at each display, though, because the different registers have different chocolate next to them. For instance, on my most recent visit, Taza was on the right side of the middle checkout aisle. I don’t think the Taza moves, but some of the other brands come and go. Sometimes they put chocolate to the far right as well, over to the left of the bulk goods. Stay away from that cutlet-styled TVP!! It’s nothing but gross.

      I did not go to the bridge while at Fort Knox. We brought a picnic dinner and I think we were all quite anxious to tuck into that, Ladybird included. So hmm, you’re afraid of bridges but not of flying over islands? At least with bridges there is something underfoot? I understand, though. This is like how I will do anything not to walk over a grated sidewalk. I mean, I might fall in, or something. Emphasis on might. Bigger emphasis on probably not.

      1. I will look really, really hard the next time I go, and I will let you know what I find. It’s embarrassing how much of a struggle this has been…but I will prevail, in the name of chocolate!

        1. Sheesh, I hope so;) If not, I’ll have to accompany you, and then you’ll be embarrassed. But yeah, definitely let me know what you wind up getting!

    1. Mum, I don’t know. They better not have been cannons, because they would have been aimed directly at Bucksport proper. And that’s no way to build neighborly relations! Although now that I think about it, I believe a cannon was indeed stationed on one of the platform thingys just behind the camera’s location. Hmm. I guess you never know where your enemies are.

      I can tell you that just to the left was the “Hot Shot Furnace.” We thought it would make a speedy pizza cooker. I’d like to go back with more time to explore the whole area… we looked around quite quickly, and I was busy snapping pho-tos instead of reading small informational signs. The bit about cannonballs flying 3 miles was the only useful info I retained.

    1. sarah, ha, yeah! I could go for one too. Hopefully the coffee wouldn’t leave a grittiness in my teeth similar to this bar. It’s okay for stone ground chocolate, coffee – not so much. Somehow, though, the coarsely ground beans in my percolator always wind up in my cup…

  2. I adore coffee in chocolate and am always disappointed by weak flavour, so oh! How I wish I could get my hands on this! Although I’m still a little unsure as to whether I’d enjoy Taza and it’s texture on a regular basis, as sometimes the granular sugar is a bit too, well, sugary for me :P

    1. Hannah, Oooooh nooooo, not weak flavooooooor! I was brought one bar flavored with maple sugar from Suite 88 Chocolatier in Montréal last summer; it had a sugary crunch, and it was such a delightful experience that I believe I associate Taza’s crunchiness with the memory of that bar.

      I sure do like sugar!

    1. Victoria, I agree! I’m not even a ginger fan, but I can imagine how well it works with Taza’s style of chocolate. Luckily, I’m breaking free of my central Maine shackles soon, and hopefully I can find some of the new Taza discs then:)

  3. I wish I lived in Boston again? Not the short of place I’d expect to find in Somerville? You know the thing I love about this chocolate the most? The packaging and shape! I suppose because I can’t taste it. My “must-try” list is getting sooooooooooooo long! :)

    1. Julia, I like your questioning nature?:)

      I was going to say I like the taste of this chocolate the most, but going on appearances alone, I’d say this chocolate has it made. It’s definitely unique. I’m not terribly familiar with Somerville, but I did drive eastward through it once when trying to find 93 after a trip to Formaggio Kitchen. I felt like I was driving blind, not knowing where I was; everything worked out alright, though.

      I can only imagine how long your must-try list is…. mine is pretty long too… I feel like I need a Rolodex to keep track of all I want to purchase!

  4. By happy coincidence, I’ve tried that chocolate (initially attracted to the packaging, I’ll have to admit) and was momentarily caught off guard by the texture, seeing as I’d never tried Mexican chocolate before. Love the photos by the way!

    1. Y: Proof that Taza does have it made on appearance alone! Did your moment of being caught off-guard pass? I hope so… it really is quite different from mainstream chocolate, though, so I understand your hesitation. The first time I tried Taza I thought the chocolate might be old. Nope, just strangely textured!

    1. Thanks, Xialou! I’m not sure if they have this chocolate over in Singapore, but I know you can easily pick some up when you get home:) Let me know if you try it!

  5. I love Taza Chocolate! I agree with you on flavors, except salt almond, salt and pepper and the jalapeno flavor… hmm, may need to go grab a piece now! (I order a lot in February or March to last through the summer when Taza’s shipping rates go through the roof!

    1. Yeah, I like Taza too:) It’s always a bummer when summer rolls around and shipping rates go up… although I’ve never actually purchased chocolate online (I’ve only had some sent to me… rarely). It’s definitely not a price commitment I’d be willing to make very often!

      1. Shipping and online purchases have saved my sanity down here. I enjoy all the fresh veg but I really miss a lot of stuff here in the rural NC foothills. I’ve been really spoiled living in Boston and the DC area for most of my life!

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