Craft Chocolate in Conversation with James Hoffmann

By Cocoa Runners  ·  28th February 2021  ·  Craft Chocolate in Conversation

Globally we spend over $100Bn a year on chocolate, and about the same on coffee.  Yet whereas specialty coffee accounts for over 10% of coffee sales in almost every country drinking coffee, in no country does craft chocolate account for even 0.1% of chocolate sales.  This is despite both specialty coffee and craft chocolate really “starting up” about thirty years ago, and despite the fact that we’ve been fermenting and consuming chocolate for over five thousand years versus about one thousand for coffee.

To see if we can learn a few lessons from speciality coffee we’ve invited James Hoffmann for another Craft Chocolate in Conversation.  If you attended the last conversation we did with James, you will know that he is the UK’s first World Barista champion, Founder of Square Mile and YouTube sensation (and you can see a video of the conversation here).

We have prepared a special box of six bars to taste together on Zoom (see below and here).  And I’ll also be using these bars to pick James’ brains as to what Craft Chocolate might learn from Speciality Coffee’s success.  Here are a few areas we are going to discuss – and do please send more suggestions both before, and on, the night

  • Packaging and Labelling.  It is easy to “see the difference” between e.g., instant coffee and roasted beans.  Speciality Coffee also has done a good job of ensuring that customers can distinguish between “good” beans and “great” beans on their packaging when you see them “in store”. ( We have picked one craft bar made by an ex-coffee maker to showcase how this can be applied in Craft Chocolate; see if you can figure out which bar)
  • Definitions.  Again, speciality coffee (along with craft beer) has various associations and definitions. Craft Chocolate lacks this .. but we should be able to explain the difference. Plan for some “geek” conversations on roasting, fermentation, beans, concheing and more (by the way, James has also crafted his own chocolate with his own conche so can discuss this as an expert on both products)
  • Experience and Explanations.  As anyone has ever had the fortune of entering Prufrock or Square Mile will know, baristas and coffee roasters are BRILLIANT at helping you understand why it’s worth spending a little more on a great coffee.  Aside from a few makers like Zotter, Plaq, Dormouse, Mirzam, Dandelion and few US makers, it’s hard to “see the difference” in person (hint: “bridge” bars may be one way for customers to tip a toe in Craft Chocolate — see Boho’s Potato Chip, Raaka’s Bourbon and Chocolarder’s Gorse bars)

Time permitting we’ll also discuss the environmental and socio-economic challenges that both coffee and chocolate face.

The Conversation and Tasting  is on March 11th at 8-00pm UK time on Zoom and YouTube.  You can register for free here – and we’d STRONGLY recommend that you purchase a tasting kit (and again, James’ popularity means that – because of Brexit and stock issues – we may need to substitute one bar. SORRY!).  See here and below

Please see below for the Tasting Kit — and also a few Craft Chocolate bars infused with Speciality Coffee

Hope to see you on the 11th March


PS for some earlier ruminations on speciality coffee and craft chocolate, see an earlier blog post here