Two weeks ago, "the industry standard" for artisan chocolate events took place in Seattle. It is one of the biggest gatherings of chocolate lovers, chocolate makers, farmers, and related people. Anyone can go to discover, taste exceptional chocolates from all around the world, attend conferences and workshops, and learn many dark chocolate benefits. It is so meaningful to the industry that brands even launch new products during the event.
The Northwest Chocolate Festival is a two-day experience, and I had the pleasure of being there the whole time. Some moments left me fascinated: like a walk through the global showcase and visit exhibitions from chocolate maker brands that I've never seen before. Also, the ones that have been with us for years now, such as Dandelion, Dick Taylor, Amano, and Fruition.
We also experienced friendships, great conversations, and amazing presentations out of the virtual environment, and brought it closer to us, in the real world.
Or Sharon Terenzi, better known as "The Chocolate Journalist." She is an essential reference in all the chocolate news and whom I had the chance to greet and talk with, despite all the responsibility she had as the Festival's Social Media Director.
It was a fantastic event that I'm so grateful to have lived. But I also want to share with you the five things I learned, I reflected on and took with me back to Florida. Those are the ones that really impacted my life and showed me many dark chocolate benefits. Here they are:
- The virtuous circle is getting bigger. I saw growing craft chocolate makers in number and production, which equals higher pay for cacao farmers and workers. Now, more people are joining this responsible and sustainable way of consuming chocolate as they have access to better information and can make conscious decisions.
- We can change the game by teaching children about this movement. Soon, they'll learn how to enjoy the variety of flavors and textures of real chocolate, and they'll grow old appreciating craft chocolate, building a better future society. Plus, you can take this as quality time to spend with your kids.
- Humbleness is needed. Being open to learning from people that have more experience in this fine chocolate world is the key to discover new people, methods, brands. Learning is the door to a new world that's always open, waiting for us.
- We are all in this together. People in charge of brands were there, "on the field." The actual chocolate makers, people that are inside the business. They're accessible, they're there to network, to know each other. Now is the time to develop projects, alliances. You just need the courage to stand up and pitch or share your idea. If we want to extend dark chocolate benefits, we must participate.
- We must commit and be willing to pay for a high-quality product, like craft, bean-to-bar, artisan, or small-batch chocolate. To support the movement and allow it to keep growing while we break the vicious cycle of bulk cacao (commodity, industrial, no-flavor) and its unfortunate consequences such as child labor, poor sustainability, sugary-low-in-cacao candy chocolate.
Yes, it was an extraordinary experience. Still, the best of it all was the chance to live The Goodness Of Life surrounded by people that's on the same page, which made us realize this is way bigger than Club Chokolate. This is about doing good to the world, and share all the dark chocolate benefits we keep learning throughout this journey.
Do you want to enjoy these benefits? You can try one of our newest additions to the chocolate library, which we tasted at this Festival, the French Broad Nicaragua 68% dark chocolate bar. It has a smooth texture, fruity sweet typical for the criollo cacao variety used in this chocolate.
Ramón E. Martínez