Chocoa 2015

Last week the Chocoa festival, trade fair, and conference took place in the center of Amsterdam. Chocoa is a annual event and the ‘festival’ part resembles the Origin chocolate event although with more attention towards families, kids etc.1. This time I did not attend the festival, but I joined the trade fair instead.

Chocoa trade fair Amsterdam 2015 - cocoa bean testing and sampling.Cocoa bean sampling at the Chocoa trade fair 2015 in Amsterdam. One of the most important tests for the quality of cocoa beans it the so called ‘cutting test’. Typically, a few hundred beans are cut in halves for this test. Visual inspection then reveals the percentage of beans with mold as well as poorly fermented beans (well-fermented beans often show violet colors while a grayish appearance is a sign for non-ideal fermentation).

The trade fair mainly focused on the presentation cocoa bean and couverture exporters. I had a long and very helpful conversation with Clay Gordon, the man behind the website “The Chocolate Life” which is frequented by many people in the chocolate world. At the trade fair Clay Gordon represented FBM, a manufacturer for chocolate-related machines (tempering machines, enrobers, etc.). He gave me valuable tips how to eventually start my own candy bar production even with my fairly moderate budget.
I also had nice conversations with people from Amigos international which had a good 80% couverture from Ecuador which also forms the basis of Ananda chocolate) and with people from ‘Chocolate del Caribe’ run by Hugo Hermelink. I very much enjoyed their 80% chocolate from Honduras2 and their 70% chocolate from San Salvador3 .
I found it particularly nice so see that more and more high-quality couverture seems to be available from small-scale producers that sit in the countries of origin! In the end, this not only is a welcome addition to the few very big couverture manufacturers (such as Callebaut), but it clearly helps to keep more of the profits made with chocolate in the region where its cultivated4.

Footnotes
  1. The Origin chocolate event is really mostly centered around premium bean-to-bar products. []
  2. The 80% chocolate from Honduras had a very nice, complex flavor profile with a well-balanced fruity-ness. I really liked it a lot. []
  3. The 70% from San Salvador was less fruity and had more earthy notes. []
  4. If you want to see how little of the money you pay for a chocolate bar stays in the cocoa growing region you should have a look at the cocoa barometer []

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