Hoja Verde, Spanish for “green leaf,” is so named to honor the rainforests shading their cacao plantations and the company’s background in roses. Their base is in Florida, and their single origin chocolate is made with Arriba beans from Ecuador. They have four of these bars at 58%, 72%, 80%, and 100%. I received the 72% to try out.
First impressions of the Hoja Verde site and phrasing: it leans a little on the gimmicky. Not that they don’t have anything to say, as they’re Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. But calling their range “a decadent odyssey in intense flavors,” well, isn’t it my job to get all poetic over chocolate? The packaging design works, though. I never thought black and orange could go together without Halloween; here they just speak of boldness. The bar itself is a little beat up, probably from the mail and because I, ahem, dropped it. The finish looks a little matte, but it’s hard to tell with the abuse.
It smells sweet, as a 70% does. The feel of it reminds me of Dove; it has a very soft break. Now, I don’t like Dove, but Hoja Verde is obviously higher quality. There is more depth to this flavor: red and rich notes, brownie and cake tastes. Almost like Ghirardelli, but thicker. It’s a nice bar. The flavors are warm and even the texture begins to grow on me. There’s an organic feel that gives it some personality, for all that it isn’t my personality.
It’s also sweeter than I like my dark chocolate to be. Hoja Verde says that they use Arriba beans because they need less sugar, allowing you to enjoy chocolate’s health benefits instead. Either they still added too much sugar, or the market for “healthy chocolate” (versus chocolate that’s healthy) isn’t ready to put health over palate yet (100% bars aren’t for all of us). At $6 for 80 grams, I find myself contemplating the word “gimmick” again. I know the simple facts of Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance cost more, but they have to be worth it, and this bar just doesn’t click enough with me to pay gourmet prices. You have to like your chocolate sweet to go all the way with this one.