Origin chocolate still needs to be put at the right place when it comes down to appreciating what fine cacao really is about. Many people still are not aware of the wonderful world out there, to be explored and tasted. We still need a lot of initiatives to gain some traction and broader awareness, surely in our regions (Belgium, Netherlands). Lately the Origin Chocolate Event in Amsterdam did just that. Looking at an impressive program featuring plenty of the world top of origin chocolate evangelists, for sure I was there to share and grab some passion vibes.
The program welcomed leading supporters like Clay Gordon, Martin Christy, Maricel Presilla and crafted chocolate makers Santiago Peralta (Pacari), Philipp Kauffmann (Original Beans), Mott Green (The Grenada Chocolate company) and Madagascar expert Bertil Akessons, with several more. The first day was working with hosted sessions, here are some personal highlights from those I could attend.
Philipp Kauffmann (Original Beans)
Original Beans is a chocolate brand that controls its cacao, and goes far beyond the classic ideas of sustainability. Though I’m often too sceptic on that matter, Philipp brought an inspiring visionary context and also showcased how his company is delivering on those ambitions. Planting a new tree for every bar sold, biodegradable packing are just 2 of many more.
Martin Christy (Seventy %)
In the early days of Choqoa, I travelled to London to meet Martin Christy and participate in a small tasting event. It really was an extra push to start sharing my chocolate passion. He now is the founder of the International Chocolate Awards, you definitely should check the winners list here. With his 70% team he is now running a little campaign, that we will fully support. “Slow Chocolate” is a fun pitch to increase our appreciation for fine origin chocolate, so here’s our advice: “Melt, don’t Bite!”
Santiago Peralta (Pacari)
Pacari is a unique project from Ecuador, to bring fine flavour cacao from various local regions and varieties. Several of his bars won awards on the latest Internation Chocolate Awards. Santiago had us taste some of his finest and latest creations, all of which are true cacao explorations to enjoy. During this session he shared a lot of background information, making his bars all the more interesting and tastefull.
One of the more intense moments was the panel discusion. The first topic unfortunately dropped the Fair Trade idea on the table. This is a very complex topic, immediately hijacked the discussion. A topic too complex and in several ways not even relevant to fine cacao. I was glad to speak up with my two cents: the best way to win that battle is to educate people how chocolate craftsmen really make their wonderful bars, and how close they work together with cacao farmers. Consumers need to know what they eat, and how it is made to fully appreciate it and be able to compare real stories beyond labels. A comment that was appreciated by many, it brought Maricel Presilla and me to some closer thoughts.
And off course I care to mention some other people I saw or met again that day: Sepp SchönBächler (Flechlin), Maricel Presilla (culinary historian), Erik Sauer, Geert Vercruysse and so on. There is surely a lot more to tell about my learnings this day, it was an inspiring event that should be repeated for sure. The tight schedule made me not go to Clay Gordon and Mott Green’s talk, but there will be a next time.
For instance the upcoming Salon du Chocolat in Paris, a yearly highlight for Choqoa so we will be there!