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Craft Chocolate in Conversation

Welcome to our series of Craft Chocolate in Conversation where we’ll be holding more Zoom calls with Craft Chocolate enthusiasts including Professor Barry Smith, Julian Baggini, Ruth Spivey and more to come. With these experts we will be discussing everything from Philosophy to Wine, and Texture to Feasting. These Craft Chocolate in Conversation sessions are free to attend, just simply book your space. However during these sessions we’ll also be trying some of our experts’ favourite chocolates, so why not join in with the tasting. All you need to do is buy your tasting kit.


Vanessa Kimbell

Monday 14th December, 8pm

Vanessa Kimbell is a legend in sourdough, baking, fair trade, the gut microbiome and much, much more. During the course of the evening, Spencer will be chatting to Vanessa about her Italian mother, how she first began working in the village bakery in France as a child, why she fell in love with bread and has never looked back. In addition to being a sourdough (and indeed baking overall) expert in nutrition and digestibility of bread, she is also a regular Radio 4 Food Contributor on everything from vanilla, chocolate and tea. We’ll also discuss her personal fascination with gut health and how that led her to develop teaching courses for baking bread at home that not only tastes amazing but also nourishes your gut microbiome 

Past Events

James Hoffmann

James Hoffmann, co-founder of Square Mile Coffee Roasters, author of The World Atlas of Coffee, YouTube sensation, World Barista Champion, Prufrock Coffee, to name just a few items of his work… is also a craft chocolate aficionado and a dear friend of Cocoa Runners. During this Craft Chocolate in Conversation with James, we’ll take a deep dive into some of his favourite bars – bars that he chose for being particularly fascinating.

“I’m drawn to chocolate, in many ways, because of its similarities to great coffee. To me chocolate is effortless enjoyable, chemically satisfying but when I dig a little deeper, it becomes fascinating and even more delightful.”

– James Hoffmann

Philipp Kauffmann

On this evening we’ll be joined by Original Beans founder, Philipp Kauffmann. Former conservationist at the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations, Philipp started his chocolate-making venture with the focus on protecting farmers, the rainforest, and thousands of endangered species. All through the means of incredibly delicious and sustainably sourced cacao.

Philipp’s chocolate kit is set to include a selection of bars crafted from cacao sourced by Original Beans and their Bean Team. The premise of this tasting is to walk through Philipp’s life, vicariously through chocolate.

Julian Baggini

Philosophy, Religion and the Sacred Cacao Bean. In this philosophical talk and chocolate tasting, we’ll be looking at what makes chocolate truly divine, or perhaps something even better. Philosopher Julian Baggini has just published a book on the greatest food movie of all time, Babette’s Feast, and Julian will be applying ideas from that to chocolate. Julian will be trying to persuade you that much of what we seek in religion can be found in the mortal, material world, and that cacao is one way to unlock this.

Barry Smith

Barry Smith is a professor of philosophy and directs the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He is also the founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. A philosopher of language and mind, his current research is on the multisensory nature of perceptual experience, focusing on taste, smell and flavour.  And he believes that Craft Chocolate is a fantastic tool to explain and explore how these multi-modal  experiences of taste, flavour, smell and texture.

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

What a morning pleasure it is to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee with an amazing bar of chocolate. And so we’re delighted to be joined by three-time UK Barista Champion & three-time world finalist, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, for a morning of pairing different coffees with chocolate. We’ll also taste more chocolate alongside Maxwell as we discuss the differences and similarities in coffee.

Tim Spector

Tim Spector is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, a craft chocolate aficionado, and one of the driving forces behind the crowded Covid-19 app. He is also passionate about fermentation and its importance to our gut health. During this Craft Chocolate in Conversation with Tim, we’ll delve into Tim’s just released book, Spoon Fed, and discuss a range of topics from fermentation to our microbiome – along with tasting some of his favourite Craft Chocolate Bars too. We’ve curated a Chocolate Tasting Kit that includes 10 unique chocolates to be tasted alongside us. We’re offering up Tasting Kits ideal for 1-2 people or for 4+, with the chance to add on the incredible Spoon Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told about Food is Wrong book.

Isabel Vincent

Join us for an interactive chocolate tasting with award-winning author and investigative journalist Isabel Vincent. Isabel’s latest book, Dinner with Edward: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship, is a memoir of her deep five-year friendship with a lonely widower, and tells of their weekly dinners, prepared by Edward, and the wide-ranging advice he shared with her. We’ll be using six special chocolate bars to explore Isabel’s life, career, and life-changing friendship with Edward.

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