See’s Candies are a sentimental favorite, and if you like old fashioned chocolates, they are a good choice — still using their original recipes, but also coming out with new items regularly, and made with mostly OK ingredients (some artificial flavors and soy lecithin are the only potentially objectionable ingredients, I think).
Also, visiting their stores is a fun experience with the distinct white and black retro decor and the staff in their 1960s-ish uniforms handling out free samples. But even though there was a See’s store at the end of my block when I lived in SF for 11 years, I rarely visited because their chocolates are too sweet for me. So I was very intrigued when I saw they were teaming up with local chocolate pioneer Guittard Chocolate and local coffee legend Peet’s Coffee for a limited time treat. Could this be a See’s candy for me?
The partnership is important because Guittard and Peet’s both have excellent reputations for quality goods. For the Chocolate Coffee Beans, Peet’s roasts the coffee beans, and Guittard provides the dark chocolate couverture that See’s coats the beans with. The beans are then packaged in a cute, See’s-branded tin, similar to an Altoid mints tin.
Cutting to the chase, these are good. Nice crunchy beans, and the chocolate has a good chocolatey flavor. They are not bitter, with a good balance between the mellow coffee and distinct chocolate flavors.
However, like all See’s dark chocolates, they are not a true dark chocolate — the ingredients list includes milk fat — but they have some key differences which make them better tasting to me:
- Each piece is a whole coffee bean coated in chocolate, so there is just less sweetness in each piece than a typical See’s candy.
- The ingredients list includes chocolate liquor, an ingredient that See’s other “dark” chocolates lack, so there is a higher ratio of cacao to sugar.
- Maybe the couverture is made from beans with a different flavor profile than typical See’s chocolates because it tastes better to me.
I don’t know the cacao percentage, but they seem less sweet than See’s other dark chocolates (including their Extra Dark Chocolate Bars, which are really dark milk chocolate at 62% cocoa solids but containing milk products, and are rather bland with a chocolate syrup taste).
A 100-year treat
The chocolate covered coffee beans are one of the special treats See’s came up with to celebrate their 100th year anniversary. The tin says they are Limited Time Sweets, but they are popular on their site with mostly 5-star ratings, and people begging them to make the beans a permanent offering.
Because of COVID, I ordered the Chocolate Coffee Beans online. While I love See’s stores, I am still avoiding unnecessary in-person shopping, so I don’t know if they are available in stores, but as of when I wrote this, they are still available online. [UPDATE Nov. 2021: The beans are still available but they are no longer sold in tins.]