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International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting: Chocolate Tasting Courses 2018

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The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting has created a one-of-a-kind, 3 Level educational programme for chocolate lovers. The courses are an intense excursion to develop an understanding of fine chocolate and its flavour possibilities. Begin with Level 1, your foundation in one day. Move onto Level 2, a three day course building on your knowledge. Finally, Level 3 courses are held in cocoa growing countries, with the opportunity to literally learn in the field. Develop the skills to evaluate, appreciate and really enjoy fine chocolate; these courses are perfect for anyone with a passion for the new world of fine, craft and origin chocolate.

These courses take place around the world, and the IICCT currently has confirmed dates for upcoming courses in London, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.  A full list of upcoming dates is below, but to find out more about the course structure and content, and to book your spot on a course near you, please visit the IICC website today.

Upcoming Courses

Level 1, Copenhagen

March 15, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2 , Copenhagen

March 15, 2018 – March 18, 2018

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Level 2, Copenhagen

March 16, 2018 – March 18, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2, London

March 22, 2018 – March 25, 2018

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Level 1, London

March 22, 2018

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Level 2, London

March 23, 2018 – March 25, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2, Amsterdam

April 13, 2018 – April 16, 2018

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Level 1, Amsterdam

April 13, 2018

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Level 2, Amsterdam

April 14, 2018 – April 16, 2018

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Level 1, London

May 31, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2 , London

May 31, 2018 – June 3, 2018

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Level 2, London

June 1, 2018 – June 3, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2, London

August 30, 2018 – September 2, 2018For more details:




Level 1, London

August 30, 2018

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Level 2, London

August 31, 2018 – September 2, 2018

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Combined Level 1 & Level 2, London

November 8, 2018 – November 11, 2018

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Level 1, London

November 8, 2018

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Level 2, London

November 9, 2018 – November 11, 2018

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A Taste Of Madagascar

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Today we present you with a chance to taste three single origin craft chocolate bars from Madagascan maker Menakao for just £5.95, or six for £10*.

Make it many of the chocolate lovers who join us at our tasting evenings remark that they think they’re such great value. They loved being able to taste a little of a lot of bars, before buying a whole bar without having the chance to taste it first. We love hosting tasting events and sharing new bars with chocolate lovers, but we know that not everyone can join us in London (and so we are trying to do more outside of London in Manchester and beyond, but even then it’s never going to be feasible for everyone).  This made us sit up and think: how can we do to bring this taster experience to you to enjoy at your leisure, in your home?

With that in mind, we have curated two taster boxes, each contains a selection of taster bars from Madagascan maker Menakao. These individually wrapped, petite bars are just the size to enjoy with a coffee, and make the ideal gift to give that friend who you’ve been meaning to introduce to the world of craft chocolate.

Menakao is a very special maker in that it crafts the beans in the country they are grown. It is unusual in that it not only uses Madagascan cacao, but also crafts its bars in the northwest of Madagascar. Its bars are superb examples of Madagascan dark and milk chocolate, simply bursting with sharp red berries and citrus.

We love Menakao’s plain milk and dark chocolate bars. In addition Menakao also makes some outstanding flavoured chocolate bars. These bars showcase the distinctive flavours that can be achieved when Madagascan cacao is combined with locally sourced inclusions. Inside these collections, you will have the chance to try bars with peppercorns, chilli, Arabica coffee and fleur du sal.

We hope you enjoy.

Menakao Craft Chocolate Taster Box | £5.95

This box featuring three taster bars from Menakao is an excellent introduction to the world of craft chocolate, with a particular focus on Madagascan chocolate.

Inside this box you’ll discover three craft chocolate bars from Menakao. A plain dark chocolate bar, a bar with pink peppercorns and a bar with Arabica coffee, cocoa nibs and sea salt.



Pair of Menakao Taster Boxes | £10

At just £10 this pair of boxes is exceptional value. The first box contains a plain dark chocolate bar, a bar with Pink Peppercorns and a bar with Arabica coffee, cocoa nibs and sea salt. The second has a plain dark chocolate bar, a bar with bird chili and one with cocoa nibs and salt.


When Coffee Met Chocolate

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This Valentine’s Day we are proud to present a very special gift, curated in partnership with the wonderful team at Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London’s Bethnall Green.

We have harboured a great deal of respect for the work done by the team at Square Mile. Their commitment to sourcing, buying, importing, roasting and delivering the best coffee they can get a hold of is second to none. We are very grateful for everything that they have done to elevate the quality of coffee that we drink in coffee shops both here in London and elsewhere across the UK.

It was such a treat to spent an afternoon with the team at Square Mile, pairing our single origin chocolate bars with one of their exceptional coffees. The coffee we were pairing to was Square Mile’s Santa Rosa 1900 coffee from Costa Rica.

The fresh red grape flavours of this coffee are accompanied by hazelnut notes in this elegant and refined returning favourite from brothers Luis Alberto and Oscar Adolfo Monge Ureñas. Grown in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica.

Like us, the Square Mile team was equally passionate about great milk and dark chocolate bars, so we initially tried pairing with a host of milk chocolate. But as a group who prefer their coffee black, we found the milk bars overpowered this light, fresh coffee.

Next, we moved on to a selection of dark chocolates with cacaos from the four corners of the globe. The nutty, indulgent notes of Dominican and Bolivian cacao, and the smokiness of Solomon Isles cacao were delicious, but ultimately not quite the perfect match.

After a thoroughly enjoyable tasting adventure, the roasters at Square Mile felt that only two origins could be the ideal match for their fine coffee. Only the citrus notes of Peruvian cacao, or the tart, red berry and dried fruit notes of Madagascan cacao would be the top pick to enjoy alongside the Santa Rosa 1900.

The team at Square Mile ultimately chose the Madagascan Dark Chocolate from Icelandic maker Omnom, and today we are delighted to present a gift that includes a bag of fresh roasted coffee and Omnom’s delicious dark chocolate bar.

Whether you’re looking for an ideal gift for a coffee and chocolate lover this Valentine’s Day, or just looking for a present from you, to you, this is a very special gift that makes for a delicious and indulgent treat.

This gift is available for a very limited time for delivery to mainland UK addresses. The coffee is roasted fresh each day right here in London. We would recommend ordering by midnight on Sunday 11th February for delivery in time for Valentine’s Day.

What’s more, we’re able to offer Free UK Shipping on this gift. Order direct at Square Mile Roasters today.



Valentine’s Day Gifts From Cocoa Runners

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Love is in the air. And no Valentine’s Day is complete without the delicious aroma of craft chocolate.

At Cocoa Runners we love craft chocolate. We love discovering new beans andbars. We love sharing in the passion of our makers and growers. We love sharing chocolate.

And we’d love to make your Valentine’s Day even more special by sharingsome craft chocolate with you.

If you’re in London, treat your Valentine to an evening spent tasting craft chocolate, on Wednesday 14th February at Prufrock Coffee on Leather Lane.  Or if you’re further afield, why not send your chocolate loving Valentine ourValentine’s Day Collection of four carefully crafted chocolate bars, beautifully presented in a craft brown giftbox.

If you would like to add a little extra indulgence to your Valentine’s Day celebration, our Prosecco and Chocolate gift is just the ticket.  Curated by theteam at Great Western Wine, this gift brings together a bottle of Prosecco Treviso DOC with a pair of single origin craft chocolate bars.

To ensure that your gift arrives at mainland UK addresses in time for Valentine’s Day, please place your order by noon on Monday 12th February.

We hope you enjoy!

Craft Chocolate Tasting Evening, February 14th 2018

Tickets £25 each, Two for £45

Join us for an evening spent tastingover a dozen of the world’s finest single origin craft chocolate bars.

We’ll go under the hood of craft chocolate bars, looking in detail at the intricacies of cacao genetics, harvest, fermentation, vintages, conching and roasting, and examining how each stage of cacao production can affect the flavour of a bar.


The Valentine’s Collection


This Valentine’s Day we’ve picked four beautiful bars from artisans aroundthe world.  Join us on a romantic voyage of discovery, from the sensual deep notes of Pump Street’s Madagascan dark chocolate to the luscious layersof flavour in Jordi’s milk chocolate bar via the striking emerald  barfrom Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé . Finally dive deep into the Colombian jungle with the rich notes of Zotter’s Colombian dark chocolate bar.

And not only do these bars taste great, but they also do good – they are all the product of direct trade. We hope you enjoy tasting them as much aswe’ve enjoyed choosing them.

Chocolate & Prosecco Gift


Inside this luxury chocolate gift youwill discover a bottle of Fiabesco Prosecco Treviso DOC NV paired withtwo artisan chocolate bars.

We have teamed up Bath-based wine Merchant Great Western Wines tobring you a chocolate and wine giftlike no other. Together we tried andtasted different wine and chocolate pairings to create a truly exceptional gift.

The January 2018 Collection

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Over the past few months we’ve already started planning the delicious surprises you will discover in 2018. We are very excited to help you dive deeper into the expanding world of craft chocolate. We want to start the year as we mean to go on – bringing you incredible chocolate from rare origins, innovative new makers and world-famous artisans. We genuinely believe that the Cocoa Runner’s Monthly Collection is the best way to try the most exciting and delicious craft chocolate. This year we want to delight you and your taste buds at least as much as last year.


To begin the New Year in style we have a very special Cocoa Runners exclusive from Fruition. Crafted just for us, Brian and Dahlia worked closely with the farmers at Ingemann in Nicaragua to source the cacao. Next we have a bar from new Danish maker Oialla. We first met the team at Oialla through our mutual friend Friis Holm and have been working over the past six months to be able to bring you this bar.


Then we have a rare bar from Chocolat Madagascar. The dark chocolate has been crafted using cacao beans grown on a single plantation in Madagascar, Domaine de Vohibinany. Finally we finish with a rare origin bar from Zotter. Joseph Zotter has managed to seek out cacao from the West African state of Togo.


We hope you enjoy this box and wish you a New Year full of chocolate and happiness!




We are truly delighted to bring you this wonderful Cocoa Runners exclusive bar from Fruition. The smooth, dark chocolate that reveals layers of intense flavour mixed with sweetness. Strong honey notes leap out from the first bite.  This develops into a richer caramel flavour, with hints of walnuts.


Fruition is a small batch bean to bar chocolate workshop located in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and run by husband and wife team, Brian and Dahlia. Bryan and Dahlia at Fruition worked in partnership with the team of cocoa bean experts at Ingemann in Nicaragua to find just the right Chuno cacao. Chuno is a very rare cacao exclusively found in Nicaragua. Chuno has been internationally awarded Heritage Cacao status thanks to its fine flavour.


You can discover Fruition’s Chuno Dark from this month’s box here, and the rest of Fruition’s bars in the Chocolate Library here.




We’ve been speaking to the team at Oialla for over six months that to make sure you get to try this delicious and sustainable chocolate. Oialla is a Danish chocolate maker, with a very particular focus. All Oialla’s chocolate bars are crafted from Bolivian ‘wild’ cacao beans. The cacao has grown wild in the rainforests of the Beni province since anyone can remember. The cacao grows on small islets, which in the wet season become islands and can only be reached by boat!


Oialla goes the extra mile when it comes to bean sourcing. The team works closely with local growers at source who harvest, dry and ferment the beans. Once these necessary and precise steps have been expertly completed by the farmers, the cacao is sent to Denmark by boat. Here Oialla crafts the beans into delicate and aromatic chocolate with a wonderful hint of honey.

You can discover Oialla’s full range of bars in the Chocolate Library here.




This dark chocolate is the first to be crafted from a newly cultivated, single estate in Madagascar. It is rare to find such a buttery dark chocolate bar with such a multitude of complimentary flavours. We noted hints of mushroom and truffles, along with bright green olives. Finally enjoy a hint of effervescent citrus.


Domaine de Vohibinany is located on the east coast in remote rainforest areas. This is the region where the Indri, largest Lemur of Madagascar resides. Access is by river and boat. The climate and soil are very different, as the rainy season is longer and higher humidity in the air. All these factors work together to create a particular ‘terroir’ which gives this specific Madagascan chocolate such a distinct flavour.


You can discover Chocolat Madagascar’s Dark from this month’s box here, and the rest of Chocolat Madagascar’s bars in the Chocolate Library here.




We have been working with Joseph Zotter and his team for many years now. His bars never disappoint, and this is no exception. This slightly lighter dark chocolate bar has a sweet and delicate flavour. The bar has a double cream taste which then reveals gentle touches of malted biscuits. We detected a hint of cinnamon on the finish.


Made in Austria by Joseph Zotter, this chocolate bar was the first ever bar to be made exclusively with organic and fair trade cocoa from Togo.  Joseph Zotter was to able find these beans with the help of Gebana. The organisation supports 1750 small farmers and together they have started the project for fairness and environmental protection. It is a very important initiative and signifies a small revolution, which Zotter is very keen to support.


You can discover Zotter’s Togo Dark from this month’s box here, and the rest of Zotter’s bars in the Chocolate Library here.



Low Sugar Chocolate

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January is often a time of year for cutting back; but you can still enjoy delicious craft chocolate without breaking your resolutions.

100% cocoa chocolate bars are made using nothing but cocoa beans. With no added sugar, flavourings or vegetable fats, the only ingredients is cocoa (sometimes with a touch of added cocoa butter).

The result is chocolate that allows you to discover the pure taste of the cocoa bean and how the artisan maker has revealed and honed its flavours. Crafting 100% chocolate isn’t easy, but when done properly the complexity of flavour is like no other chocolate bar.

If you’re new to 100% chocolate, don’t be put off by the idea that it will be bitter. It’s true that the flavours can be intense but 100% cacao bars are generally not nearly as bitter as you might expect.  Much of the mouth-puckering bitterness that you find in mass produced high percentage dark chocolate is down to how the beans are crushed, pressed and even treated chemical solutions as they rush to make the maximum amount of chocolate in as little time as possible.

By contrast craft chocolate bars are made completely differently, as the artisan tries to give true expression to his cocoa beans. The maker does this by coaxing out all the beans’ flavours as they roast, slowly conche, refine, temper and even age the bars.

That being said, we know 100% chocolate is not for everyone.  So with that in mind, today we present three collections – two of which have 100% cacao chocolate, and a third with a little more variety of intensity, with bars range from 85 – 100%.

The Low Sugar Collection

A collection of four fantastic dark bars that are low in sugar but don’t compromise on taste. Each is at least 80% cocoa, but with a rich, complex flavour and almost none of the bitterness you might expect.

Inside this collection you’ll discover bars from Taza, Menakao, Pralus and Naive.



100% Collection: The Madagascan Edition

The Madagascans are growers of fine fruity cocoa beans that lend their incredible intensity to this fine selection of chocolate bars. If you’re new to 100% chocolate, then the Madagascan bean makes an excellent starting point.

This collection includes bars from Pralus, Chocolate Tree, Chocolate Madagascar and Akesson’s.



100% Collection: The Aficionado Collection

Luxuriate in darkness with this exquisite selection of bars.

These four distinctive makers will have your taste buds singing from the rooftops with delicious, complicated and surprising flavours.

Compare and contrast the unique flavour profiles of each terroir. With each bar you can taste how the maker has crafted the beans into unique 100% chocolate.





Drinking Chocolate

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How To Make the Perfect Hot Chocolate from Cocoa Runners on Vimeo.

We’re always delighted to hear from chocolate lovers around the world, but over the past week we’ve been bowled over by the number of people who responded to our recent email about the chocolate drinks (both drinking chocolate and tea!) that we shared on Sunday Brunch.

You’ve been getting in touch to asked for top tips to craft the ultimate drinking chocolate. With a chill in the air, it’s easy to see why curling up with a mug of hot chocolate seems like an irresistible treat.

For some people, they key to creating a ‘premium’ hot chocolate is the toppings – whipped cream, marshmallows and sugary syrups. We tend to disagree. Toppings can be great fun, but when it comes to making a truly great drinking chocolate, less really is more. After all, when you add lots of synthetic toppings to a low quality drinking chocolate, all you are really doing is masking the flavour of the drink itself.

We believe that the only two ingredients you need to make a truly exceptional drinking chocolate are top quality craft chocolate and hot milk. What’s more, each drink uses just 25-30g of chocolate, so whilst January is often a time of year for cutting back, a mug of drinking chocolate is a delicious way to enjoy craft chocolate without breaking all your resolutions.

So without further ado, we present our video guide to creating the ultimate drinking chocolate. For our pick of the best couvertures to use to make drinking chocolate, please visit our Drinking Chocolate homepage.

We hope you enjoy!

Drinking Chocolate

As Seen On Sunday Brunch – Drinking Chocolate and Chocolate Tea

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On Christmas Eve, Spencer returned to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch (sporting arather snazzy Christmas jumper), to taste a selection of award winning milkand dark chocolate bars with Tim, Simon and guests. As well as tasting thebars, Spencer served up the bars as drinking chocolate along with a chocolate tea made from the shells of one of the bars.

Long before we learned to love eating chocolate, we drank chocolate.  And nowthat the New Year has dawned, we can’t imagine a more warming treat than amug of craft drinking chocolate – as you can see from the guests reactions, these bars are amazing both to drink and to eat.

From Swiss maker Original Beans is the Cru Virunga, an ever popular dark chocolate bar made from cocoa from the Virunga National Park. It makes for arich, creamy drinking chocolate and is a favourite in cafes around the country.

Next from Duffy’s in Cleethorpes is the Indio Rojo bar, a full bodied andintense dark chocolate with a fruity edge. Rather than a drinking chocolate, theguests tried a delicate tea made from the shells of the roasted beans fromwhich this bar is made.

Then, for those who love their drinking chocolate with a spicy kick, there’sTaza’s Cinnamon Bar. This stone ground bar makes have all the flavours of theseason in a distinctive round shape.

Finally, we have a milk chocolate bar from Madagascan maker Menakao. Menakao is one of very few makers creating chocolate bars at origin. This milk chocolate makes for a sweet, creamy drinking chocolate with a silky curl ofvanilla. Again, this is another firm favourite amongst speciality coffee stores allover the country

We’re happy to say that you can taste all the bars for yourself in our special gift collection and buy all the bars at Cocoa Runners individually too.

If you’re in the UK, you can watch the show on demand here and taste alongwith them (Spencer is on about 50 minutes into the show).

The December 2017 Collection

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Welcome to our final box of 2017.

We’ve had yet another fantastic year of craft chocolate – from meeting new makers, to visiting farmers at origin to building even stronger bonds with our incredible craft chocolate community.

We are delighted to say we now have nearly 100 chocolate makers and almost 900 bars in our Chocolate Library. But none of this would ever be possible without you. Our subscribers are absolutely at the core of Cocoa Runners.

It’s for you that we are always on the lookout for new makers, asking questions, and seeking to find out more about the world of craft chocolate.

And so for your ongoing support of Cocoa Runners, craft chocolate (not to mention the farmers and maker that make it possible) we thank you. We hope you enjoy this final craft chocolate selection. We encourage you to take a moment to look back and savour the memories of all the craft chocolate we’ve delivered to you this year.


First for this final box, we are delighted to share with you a bar from Naïve’s new collection. We have been a huge fan of Naïve’s creations, as well as their slow food ethos for years. And earlier this year head chocolate maker Domantas Uzpalis three brand new collections of bars. Each wonderful collection is focused on the ingredients and origins. Domantas has sourced rare cacaos, ingredients from the equatorial region as well as local Lithuanian flavours in order to craft these bars.

As well as old favourites, like Naïve’s Porcini bar, there are is also a whole new world of bars to try in the Chocolate Library.


Next we have a Brazilian bar from Georgia Ramon. When chocolate-industry insider Georg Bernadini finally decided to create his own company we were delighted. We have been working with Georg for over a year, and his wealth of chocolate knowledge never ceases to amaze us. Georg has sourced this cacao from Fazenda Camboa in the northern Bahia region of Brazil. The Fazenda has been owned by the Carvalho family since 1982 and it is now the largest bio plantation in Brazil as well as paying its farmers an annual premium based on their shared ownership in the annual production.

You can discover Georgia Ramon’s Brazilian bar from this month’s box here and the rest of its bars in the Chocolate Library.


Next, we are very excited to bring you a bar from Mirzam. This is the first chocolate maker we have welcomed from the Middle East. While the climate can be a little tricky, Mirzam’s location in Dubai has many advantages. Here it is at the centre of the ancient roads that connected Europe and Asia. The history and stories of the maritime Spice Route inspire all of Mirzam’s chocolate recipe. It selects the finest ingredients that have traditionally be grown, bought and sold along this ancient trade route.

You can discover Mirzam’s India bar from this month’s box here and the rest of its bars in the Chocolate Library.


Finally we finish off with a spicy, festive bar from Jordi’s. The kick of sweet ginger, is the perfect combination of sweetness, intensity and warmth to get you through the cold months. Jordi’s was the Czech Republic’s first ever craft chocolate maker. Based in Hradec Králové, 50 miles east of Prague, Jiri and Lukas first started crafted chocolate in 2012. Their return to traditional artisan techniques quickly generated a huge amount of local interest and led to appearances on national TV.

You can discover Jordi’s Dark Ginger bar from this month’s box here and the rest of its bars (including Sheep’s and Goat’s Milk) in the Chocolate Library.

From everyone here at Cocoa Runners, we wish you a wonderful end to the year. We can promise that 2018 has plenty more craft chocolate discovery and joy instore!

And don’t forget to browse our seasonal gift collections. We have a range of delicious craft chocolate gifts to suit every occasion. No matter whether you’re looking for a little something to put under the tree, a luxury hamper for a dinner party or you want to make someone’s 2018 truly exceptional with a year’s worth of chocolate, we have the perfect presents for you!

New Friis Holm Bars

New Bars From The Great Dane

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Earlier last month we were delighted when Mikkel Friis Holm was awarded twospecial recognition awards for his bars at the World Finals of the International Chocolate Awards, here in London. Mikkel was one of the first makers weworked with, and today we welcome a number of his latest bars to ourChocolate Library.

Mikkel has been involved in the world of single origin chocolate for over adecade. Way back in 2008 he was invited by the Danish government tosupport an initiative to develop Nicaraguan plantations and cocoa. At that time Mikkel was an accomplished chef who had moved into baking, and could see ahuge opportunity to introduce fine, single origin chocolate to his chef friends.

This first trip to origin ignited a passion in Mikkel that has only grown overtime. It was also the start of what has turned into a lifelong obsession withgenetics and fermentation. On this first visit, Friis-Holm noted that whiletaking cacao from a single country could produce great bars, the quality ofthese ‘single origin’ beans would ultimately owe at least as much to thefarmers who processed the beans as it does to the skills of the makers whocraft the beans into bars. With that in mind, he set to working with farmers inNicaragua to conduct a series of experiments in fermentation. For example, he crafts a pair of bars where one uses beans that have been turned twiceduring fermentation, whilst for the other he uses beans that have been turnedthree times. This one simple change makes a remarkable difference to theflavour of the bars.

The arrival of the new bars sees yet another experiment in fermentation fromthis Great Dane. For some time now, Mikkel’s Rugoso bar has been a key partof our Chocolate Library. This week sees the arrival of it’s lesser spotted ‘Bad Fermentation’ doppelgänger. Cocoa beans change colour as they ferment, andthe point where 80% of beans in a batch have changed from purple to brownis often viewed as the ‘ideal’ point for a ‘well fermented’ batch of beans. Incontrast, the fermentation for this batch has been stopped when only 25% ofthe beans have changed colour which gives the bar an altogether livelier character than its more traditionally fermented counterpart.

After fermentation, Mikkel is perhaps best known for his love of cacao genetics. He has pioneered research into the genetics of the Nicaraguan Cacao. As part of this work, he delights in crafting single bean type bars. And todaywe present The Barba, the first of Mikkel’s Single Bean bars to arrive in ourLibrary. It is an exceptionally rare bar, with only around 100 trees growing thisheritage cacao in Nicaragua.

Finally, we present two playful new bars from Friis Holm. Mikkel is perhaps best known for his smooth, creamy chocolate bars, but today marks the arrivalof two of his bars with cocoa nibs. We were lucky enough to taste early prototypes of these bars when we visited the Friis Holm factory in Copenhagenin February. We were sworn to secrecy at the time, and we’ve been countingthe days until we could share these bars.

We caught up with Mikkel and his team when they recently visited London andin Paris. And were delighted to see his bars again win so many awards, including two special awards for his Chuno Triple Churned bars.

Shop Mikkel’s bars in our Chocolate Library today…

We hope you love these bars too!

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