NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Craft Chocolate Trends 2017

The 9th Annual Northwest Chocolate Festival took place this year on Nov. 11 -12th, 2017 in Seattle, WA. This was my third year to attend ( I live in Port Townsend, WA so I drive to the Bainbridge Ferry to get over to Seattle.  So grateful to live this close to an event like this!).

The NW Chocolate Festival is a fantastic place to try 100+ craft chocolate makers from both the U.S. and international locations.  Plus, there are several educational talks, presentations, and workshops throughout both days.  There is something for everyone!

For example, Hazel Lee presented a workshop that involved tasting chocolate while utilizing her lovely Taste with Colour Flavour Map and then the participants painted what colors or pictures they envisioned while savoring the craft chocolate.  It was enjoyable to listen to what attendees tasted and the colors the envisioned.  Especially people who weren’t overly familiar with craft chocolate flavors.  (Want a Taste with Colour for your own?  Check it out here:  Taste with Colour). I’ve had her flavour map for a few months now and didn’t even know I associated colors with flavors until then.  (Find out more about Hazel in my interview with her:  Hazel Lee ).

Hazel Lee Taste with Colour Workshop at The NW Chocolate Festival 2017 Continue reading “NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Craft Chocolate Trends 2017”

Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: What is Craft Chocolate? Part 2

Welcome to What is Craft Chocolate Part 2.  The Question asked in Part 1 last week was: The definition of craft chocolate varies so much person-to-person. How do you define craft chocolate and/or how do you think it should be defined?

Check out Part 1 here:


And now let’s find out how more tasters and makers answer:

Hazel Lee, Bean-to-bar Maker, The Chocolate Tasting Flavour Map 

Hazel Lee:  I find this question a difficult one because there are no legal standards that differentiate craft/bean-to-bar chocolate from standard, poor quality bulk chocolate and one could argue any chocolate to be “craft” or “bean-to-bar” because of the lack of legal definitions.  However, when I am asked “what is craft chocolate?”, I say that it has been processed with a focus to produce a high quality chocolate, working with the fine flavours naturally present in the quality cocoa beans that have been ethically sourced (rather than buying poor quality cacao, roasting at a high temperature and adding a high level of sugar and /or milk powder and/or vanilla flavour or other flavours). I usually compare craft/bean-to-bar chocolate with wine, in that different origins will hold different flavours with many other factors influencing the final flavour of the bar (maker style, terroir variety, etc.).  I also like to highlight that all of the hundreds of wonderful flavours that are found in wine/chocolate come from the grape/bean alone (unless flavoured or with inclusions including milk, of course).  So it’s something to be savoured and explored than eaten for a sugar fix. Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: What is Craft Chocolate? Part 2”

Interview with Hazel Lee, Bean to Bar Maker & Consultant, NW Chocolate Festival, Chocolate Ecstasy Tours with Victoria Cooksey

Note:  This interview originally appeared on my Dark Matters Fine Chocolate blog on blogspot on 10-21-16.

I’m so pleased to bring you this interview with Hazel Lee!  Hazel is a bean to bar chocolate maker, chocolate consultant, social media director for the NW Chocolate Festival, is a tour guide with Chocolate Ecstasy Tours in England, a judge for both the Academy of Chocolate, and Quality Food Awards, and more!  Wow!  She is clearly a very busy lady, so I’m very grateful she made time to answer questions for my blog.  Thank you Hazel!  (She also gets my vote for best smile in the chocolate industry! Her smile will make you smile too, and it’s so clear she loves what she does).

Hazel Lee

Victoria Cooksey:  What was your first experience with fine chocolate?

Hazel Lee:  I walked into a Hotel Chocolat store in 2008 and tried a free sample of chocolate-enrobed rum-soaked raisins and instantly tasted the difference in their chocolate compared with high street confectionery. The quality was a whole new level and from that moment I was hooked!

Continue reading “Interview with Hazel Lee, Bean to Bar Maker & Consultant, NW Chocolate Festival, Chocolate Ecstasy Tours with Victoria Cooksey”