Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Joe's Dark Coffee Squares

Yes, there are two "Joe's" in the title of this blog post because there are two "Joe's" in the title of the product being reviewed. Seems redundant to me. But then again, my last review had the name "Joe" in it three times. 

And as Russ pointed out in his last review, there has most definitely been a caffeine-laden incursion of coffee-themed commodities at Trader Joe's lately. After 2016's moderately-fruitful mango endeavor, TJ's decided to follow it up with a cascade of coffee—an even more universally-appreciated flavor. In fact, coffee is the second most traded asset in the world. In order to top that, for 2018, Trader Joe's will have to introduce a line of crude oil flavored food products. Good luck with that, Big Joe.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Because there are plenty more coffee items to examine right now in 2017, like these fascinating coffee squares.

Like the Mocha Joe-Joe's, they feature chocolate elements as well as real ground coffee beans. And to me, once again, the taste heavily favors coffee. The texture is not unlike a typical chocolate bar. It's a smooth, creamy effect, with a bit of that "melts-in-your-mouth" kind of vibe. 

Lacking a candy shell, these squares would easily melt in your hand if not for the convenient, if perhaps a bit wasteful, individual packaging. The bag itself is resealable, with a ziplock at the top—so there's no way you'll find these squares going stale...or doing whatever chocolate does when it's exposed to the air. Speaking of packaging, Sonia noticed that the bag has the same fonts, color schemes, and art work as Trader Joe's Dark Roast Coffee. Interesting. She's got a great eye for design like that.

The squares are fairly filling. One piece at a time is probably enough for the average Trader Joe's shopper. They make a nice after-meal treat. Or I suppose you could even have a couple for breakfast if you're running low on actual java (or Rockstar or black tea or whatever your preferred vehicle of caffeine ingestion may be). 

In the end, I didn't like these as much as the Joe-Joe's, probably because they're so rich, with the coffee flavor coming through a little too much for my personal taste. It makes me want to chug a big glass of water just thinking about the richness of them. But for people with a taste for true coffee flavor, these would be perfect. $2.99 for fourteen squares. 

Four and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.


  1. I'm not really into coffee flavored desserts.

    1. I'm not usually into coffee flavored desserts either. I did like the Joe Joes but I thought these were so-so.

  2. America loves their coffee, however coffee candy and deserts never do as well here as they do in other countries - I wonder why?

    1. If TJ's has anything to say about it, Murica will be consuming coffee desserts at unprecedented levels.

  3. I saw these in our local store last week and was curious enough to take a good look, but didn't purchase because I couldn't guess whether I'd like them or not. Your review makes me want to make a special trip today!
    However, it's not surprising that the coffee flavor dominates, because these aren't actually chocolate, and the packaging carefully avoids claiming that while allowing the customer to assume that they are. They're more like a coffee-flavored white chocolate, per the ingredients, because without cocoa solids/mass/chocolate in the ingredients, it's not chocolate. Cocoa butter is just a fat that happens to come from the cocoa plant, with a very mild flavor. So, as the package indicates, I'll be expecting coffee, not mocha. And I'm excited!

    1. Thanks for this highly informative comment, Karen! I totally assumed cocoa butter was, like, cocoa-flavored. That explains a lot :) I think you'll like these. Yes, coffee, not mocha.

    2. I view these more as a little caffeine pick me up than a dessert per se. My colleague actually just wanted to sniff the inside of the bag to get a caffeine pick-me-up.....lol. It wouldn't even occur for me to have these as an evening treat as I mentioned in the review under the JoJo's.

  4. Ooh, I had my eyes on these, but I was suspicious about the lack of cocoa content. Thanks for the review!

    Have you tried the new Trader Joe's coffee ice cream? It's a coffee base with a mocha fudge swirl and chunks of Kona shortbread cookies (without any glaze!). I highly recommend it. :)