Chocolate makers get together to taste blindly and evaluate their own chocolates
I was kind of taken off the blog here for good reason. Last month I was organizing the first Bean to Bar Brazil Award. It is a competition of chocolates that does not have as first objective the one of being a competition. The main goal is to bring together bean to bar chocolate makers so that they can taste their chocolates blindly, evaluate them, compare them and exchange feedback with each other.
The inspiration came from the American Makers Cup, an event with the same objective and that happened earlier this month in New York, and Arcelia Gallardo of Mission Chocolate participated. It was she who had the initiative to make a similar event here and she came to me to organize a Brazilian version soon after the American. Ours had the tasting event on the night of 7/14/17 and it was an amazing experience!
I have two websites about chocolates. This one, the Chocolatras Online, which has content for those who enjoy eating chocolate, and ChocoWeb that is a space of information exchange for those who make chocolates. As the event is for chocolate makers, it was at ChocoWeb that I divulged all the information and the registration form. The main rules were as follows:
- Only bean to bar chocolates (those made from cocoa beans to chocolate bars)
- Only chocolates made from 70% to 80% cocoa and up to 4 ingredients (cocoa, sugar, cocoa butter and lecithin)
- It was necessary to indicate origin, variety and harvest of cocoa.
- All chocolates would be made in identical shapes so that they could not be recognized by their manufacturers.
- Each participant could nominate up to two people to participate in the tasting and evaluation, provided they were owners or chocolate makers of the brand.
- For each participant, I sent the molds and a few days after they received their chocolates. I changed their names by numbers and put them in the same Styrofoam boxes.
Day 07/14: The chocolates tasting & evaluation
We are talking about bean to bar chocolates, a type of chocolate that is still developing here, little known by consumers and there are only a few brands available in the market (see here a list of them ).
- 23 brands were registered (from SP, RJ, BA, MG, DF, PR and RS)
- 28 judges (owners or chocolate makers of the brands) were registered
To our surprise, during the week of the event we learned that the jury of honor, which would be an experienced and independent juror, Clay Gordon, would only arrive the day after the event. All right, we organized 2 events, one on Friday (14th) and one on Saturday (15th), which turned out to be even more interesting. Therefore, Clay was not present at the tasting with the other jurors, but he did it the following day and participated in the delivery of the certificates.
The evaluation was done through an electronic form accessed via cell phones. Each chocolate was evaluated by the appearance (gloss and finish), aroma, texture and melt (together), taste and personal opinion about it as a whole.
The scheme was set up so that:
- All samples were evaluated approximately the same number of times;
- The judges could not choose the samples that they wanted to taste in the first round, when most of the samples were tasted (samples were distributed randomly);
- Respecting the limit that each person has to evaluate the samples of chocolate without the palate loses the sensitivity.
Silence was requested at the time of the tasting, so that no judge comment would influence the evaluation of another.
After the evaluations, it’s time to talk, share ideas and tell each one’s story. It was an informal chat about cocoa, chocolate, production and the market.
The event was the perfect opportunity for the presentation of the Bean to Bar Brasil Association, founded recently by and for chocolate makers. See more about the entity in the site www.beantobarbrasil.com.br .
In the end, I showed each maker the number of his/her sample. Some of them were surprised. There were people who couldn’t guess which one was his own sample, and there was also who had realized that he had found a defect in his own product (something they had not noticed before!). And there were also those who had not even tried hiw own sample. The interesting thing about this exercise is that the feedbacks provide an opportunity to discover and correct any defects and further enhance the outstanding qualities.
Day 15: Lesson and guided tasting with Clay Gordon and announcement of the award results
Clay Gordon is a consultant and chocolate expert, author of Discover Chocolate (2007) and The Chocolate Life , the largest online community of chocolate stakeholders.
It was sensational! As he did not arrive in time to attend the event on the 14th, he tasted and evaluated the 23 chocolates on the morning of the 15th. At the end of the afternoon, we held the second Award event, where Clay gave a presentation on tasting chocolates and one of the methods he uses, which we tested with chocolates he brought from Peru. We learned a lot !!!
In the end, it was time to announce the winners of the Bean to Bar Brazil Award 2017 , with the right to certificate and stamps to be placed in the chocolates:
- Gold: Alquemia Chocolates (by Paula Fernandes, São Paulo)
- Silver: Choc Chocolates Finos (by Rodrigo Bastos and Julia Strand, Salvador)
- Bronze: Casa Lasevicius (by Claudia and Bruno Lasevicius, São Paulo)
The next day, all participants received reports with all feedback on their chocolates, which was the main objective. Mission accomplished with immense pleasure.
Not all the chocolate makers enrolled in the Award could attend the event in São Paulo. We miss them.
I thank the chocolate makers for their participation and I hope you fill Brazil with wonderful chocolates! Thanks also to Arcelia for the invitation and confidence in my work and to Clay Gordon for the presence, participation and teachings that he passed to us! Next year we will do it again.