Resources: continue your education

Join the craft chocolate community.

The role of a chocolate educator isn’t simply to educate, but to inspire, motivate and encourage you to continue on your own chocolate journey.

My fellow educators are delivering new resources every day. I am simply sharing some of the ones I have found the most useful on my own travels.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL  & AWARDS ORGANISATIONS

The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting was founded by Martin Christy of Seventy% (UK), Monica Meschini (Italy) and Marcel Presilla (USA). Martin, Monica and Marcel also run the International Chocolate Awards and in 2019 they organised their first International Chocolate Tasters Forum, in Florence. If you are looking for a structured course with a recognised certification, they offer three levels of certification in chocolate tasting. Alumni of the institute are given the opportunity to become judges at the International Chocolate Awards.

Visit their website for full course details: https://www.chocolatetastinginstitute.org/

The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute is a non-profit organisation devoted to identifying, developing and promoting fine cacao and chocolate. Their website says they ‘…develop educational programming for consumers, chocolate professionals, specialty retailers, and foodservice professionals; conduct research and disseminate information on fine cacao and chocolate origin, processing, production, quality and ethics; and build community by creating opportunities for knowledge sharing and mutual understanding throughout the cacao-chocolate supply chain.’ And that is exactly what they do!

They are US-based but have a comprehensive website, and you can subscribe to their newsletter to receive updates on industry news and research:

https://chocolateinstitute.org

The Academy of Chocolate was founded in 2005 to promote a greater awareness of the difference between fine chocolate and mass-produced chocolate. They run the annual Academy of Chocolate Awards and hold an annual conference.

Find out more: https://academyofchocolate.org.uk/who-we-are/

MAGAZINES & BLOGS

Cacao is the first international print magazine entirely dedicated to the chocolate industry. Every edition is packed with facts, stories and inspiration, connecting you with the people at every step of the bean to bar process. It is also beautifully illustrated and a must for any chocolate enthusiast’s bookshelf or coffee table.  Lucas and Ruby at Read Cacao also write a regular blog and offer a tasting course with tuition through video content, and e-book toolkit and bars from the fabulous Firetree chocolate.

Here’s the link to their website. https://readcacao.com/

Sharon Terenzi was the first chocolate blog I encountered on my own chocolate journey and still the one I revisit most regularly.  The content is well targeted and accessible to consumers and enthusiasts, covering subjects from cacao farming to packaging and social media. With an Instagram following of almost 30,000 passionate chocoholics and, a Top Contributor on chocolate-related groups on LinkedIn, you can join the conversation on the industry’s main news and trends on social media too.

https://www.thechocolatejournalist.com/

The Well Tempered podcast is a place to hear the voices of women involved in the chocolate industry, all interviewed by its founder Lauren Heineck.  Lauren is a chocolate maker and also the creator of the hashtag #womeninchocolate.  If you find yourself on Lauren’s website you will see these words:

“You’re here because you’re a bon vivant. Maybe you’re a part of the post-industrial-chocolate generation, or want to be. You’re in the right place.”

If that sounds like a place you want to be, here’s the link: https://wkndchocolate.com/about-wknd-chocolate

Max Gandy describes her blog as:

Dame Cacao is a global resource for passionate chocolate lovers looking for the best chocolate & experiences around the world.”

Which is exactly what it is! If you are interested in chocolate origins then Dame Cacao could be your perfect travel buddy.

Find out more: https://damecacao.com/

Geoseph is a Canadian chocolate educator, chocolate sommelier, chocolate maker and master chocolatier. It is to my discredit, as a chocolate professional, that I only discovered Geoseph this year (2020). Creator of The Bean To Bar orld Map,. Geoseph is also an inspirational educator. He offers master classes, chocolatier classes, fine chocolate tastings, private events, live video tutoring, a research blog, discussion videos and the Chocolate Compass educational toolkit.

https://beantobarworld.com/academy

The C-Spot was launched in 2010. Their Chocolate Atlas is packed full of information on origins, varieties and the making process. Their Chocolate Census contains hundreds of bar reviews. The C-Spot is definitely a site for wordsmiths and chocolate enthusiasts; their rousing bar descriptions are (and I hesitate, as they have a list of ‘banned words’, many of which I am guilty of using myself) beautifully orchestrated.

Take a look: https://www.c-spot.com/

UK BASED EDUCATORS

Terese F Weiss is based in London and one of the best chocolate educators and networkers I have ever met (as well as a very good friend). Terese teaches Level 1 and 2 courses with the IICCT and offers hospitality staff and team training sessions.

https://www.chocolateunpacked.com/

Tracy Arden Chapman based in Bath is a certified taster, judge and teacher for the IICCT, she organises private, public and corporate tastings events. I have learnt a great deal from Tracy, particularly from her curation of chocolate and alcohol pairings.

Find out more: https://chocolatevoyage.com/

Hazel Lee is a food product development scientist, part-time chocolate consultant, and chocolate judge. Hazel created the Taste With Colour chocolate tasting flavour map: a simple and approachable tool to help people discover flavours with colour. She hosts tasting and painting workshops using Taste With Colour and has over 10,000 followers on Instagram. It’s a fun approach an effective tool for articulating flavour journeys.

The Taste With Colour chart can be purchased from Hazel’s website: https://tastewithcolour.com/

Cocoa Runners are an online retailer but it would be unjust to dismiss their role in educating the UK in craft chocolate. I would be reluctant to add up the number of hours spent browsing their chocolate library and makers pages.

They host regular tastings and pairings. Sign up to their newsletter and check out the Chocopedia pages on their website too: https://cocoarunners.com/chocopedia-by-cocoa-runners/

Nicola Knight is the name behind the Exeter Chocolate Festivals and the first Digital Chocolate Festival which ran during Chocolate Week 2020. Nicola’s mission is to educate others about the fine quality, bean-to-bar, ethically produced chocolate being made right here in the UK.

As a former primary school teacher, Nicola still loves to teach and offers an educational programme of chocolate workshops to schools, along with private and corporate chocolate tasting sessions.

About

BOOKS

These are the four books I have used the most on my own chocolate journey:

A book by Dom Ramsey: writer, chocolate maker and consultant. This book wasn’t published when I started my chocolate journey, but if it had been, it would have answered so many of my early questions. It brings the chocolate curriculum to life in an accessible and engaging format. I particularly like the origin maps and the visual journey of cacao through the centuries. This book is very rarely on my book shelf as I am always using it!

Maricel Presilla is a culinary historian, author, chef,  co-founder and Americas Director of the IICCT and International Chocolate Awards

Recommended to me while studying the IICCT Level 1 course, Maricel Presilla’s bookintroduced me to the cultural subtleties and complexities of this “strange and wonderful fruit”. Ramsey’s book answers many questions but this book will be your baptism into the craft chocolate fraternity. It gives you the cultural and historical context you need to appreciate the development of the fine chocolate industry. I struggled to photograph this book as it meant adjusting my numerous and carefully positioned pink Post-it notes!

If you are serious about becoming a fine chocolate devotee, you will find yourself returning to this book again and again.

This book is what the title says: the true history of chocolate, correcting misconceptions and myths. Written by authors with a speciality on ancient Mesoamerica, this book looks in detail at the origins of chocolate, and the Olmec civilisation (1500-400 BC), way before the European encounters with Aztecs and addresses the fantastical musings of some of the more popular works on chocolate.

You will find chocolate recipes in many of the books on my bookshelf but this book by Hotel Chocolat puts chocolate into every part of our culinary lives:- breakfasts, starters, meat, fish, vegetables, salads, desserts, snacks, hot drinks and cocktails. Even our traditional onion gravy is transformed with the inclusion of cocoa beer-braised onions.

I don’t wish to repeat the many useful blog posts listing books on chocolate, instead I have recommended the four books I have used the most in my own chocolate journey. If you are looking for further recommendations, check out these listings:

Chocolate Journalist (15): https://www.thechocolatejournalist.com/blog/books-chocolate-lovers

Cacao Magazine (20): https://readcacao.com/blog/20-recommended-books-on-cacao-and-chocolate/

Ecole Chocolat (80!): https://www.ecolechocolat.com/en/chocolate-books.html

MORE WAYS TO LEARN

You can meet makers, retailers and educators across the world, follow their  journeys and attend virtual tastings. Use the hashtags below to find new makers and use your newly learnt criteria of taste, transparency and craftsmanship to assess their chocolate.

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