This is an oddity of sorts. It comes from the spice section at Trader Joe’s, which has recently been expanding – and what better addition than something to do with chocolate? I’m not sure what the average person’s reaction to a Sugar, Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder would be, but I was quick to pick it up and let it sit in my kitchen for a while as I experimented with it.
The question is, of course, what does one do with something like this? The container itself suggests to put it over cupcakes, coffee, tea, buttered toast, and ice cream, which are certainly enough for a beginning. But before I get into those, I want to look at the composition of this product.
It may be useful to start at the ingredients list: brown candy sugar, white candy sugar, chocolate flakes, and coffee beans. Although I’m not sure it affects the taste much, the inclusion of two different colored sugars does have visual interest; these are in chunks slightly bigger than most salt grinders have. The chocolate flakes are smaller and do not make up a very great percentage of the whole (as you can sort of see from a close-up on the container). The coffee beans are in halves, which means that they tend to be the biggest pieces after being ground.
What with a good amount of this mixture being sugar, I did feel a little odd grinding some over ice cream, as if ice cream needs more sugar. I was also wishing that cinnamon (what I usually add) was also involved. As it was, a slight crunch and something of a coffee taste were what I got. The same goes for on top of cupcakes (yes, I tried that, too–I couldn’t turn down the excuse for cupcakes).
As I drink both coffee and tea black, that combination was never going to be my favorite, but it does add an interesting hint of flavor along with the sugar that most people add, anyway. I could see someone getting accustomed to adding this to their usual coffee or tea, maybe even to shakes.
But my definite favorite is on the buttered toaste: this is what allows you to taste all three elements, even if the chocolate still comes up last. It’s a simple twist on butter and sugar, but with more flavor. It’s also much more entertaining to sprinkle a concoction of three or four elements on toast rather than just plain sugar.
So as strange as this new item is, I rather like it, along similar lines to my preference for salt and pepper in the same format. I would complain that there is not enough chocolate, but I can’t say that the marketing was wrong–”sugar” appears on the labeling in much larger letters than does “chocolate.”