NW Chocolate Festival Trends 2019

2019 marked the 5th year in a row that I have attended the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. With each year different trends emerge. This article focuses especially on craft chocolate trends at NW and may or may not be reflective on trends seen elsewhere.

Trend #1: While makers still offer 100% bars I noticed a much greater presence of milk and dark/milk bars this year including an increase in milk chocolate inclusion bars.

Trend #2: For several years various salts have been featured in bars, but this year makers are turning to a range of peppercorns and/or a combo of pepper with salt.

Fu Wan Chocolate’s 62% Bar with White Pepper & Fleur de Sel Bar

Trend #3: More makers then ever have added white chocolate bars to their collections, especially white chocolate with inclusions. With so many options, even those who think they don’t like white chocolate will most likely find an exception! How exciting! (If you haven’t picked up Luisa Abram’s new white chocolate bars yet, what are you waiting for?)

White Chocolate and White Chocolate Bars with Inclusions that I purchased at the NW Chocolate Festival 2019

Trend #4: I noticed a ramping up of citrus, including unusual citrus, being added to bars, such as Mashpi’s use of the citrus-hybrid calamondin. Gaston Chocolat and Dick Taylor made wonderful use of orange with their offerings, and while lemongrass is a grassy plant and not a citrus, it does add a citrus flavor and scent in Baiani Chocolates lemon grass white chocolate bar.

Citrus, or Citrus like Inclusion Bars

Trend #5: Inclusion bars are really an ongoing trend, but this year the types of inclusions have really expanded. Some stand out inclusion bars were Pascati Chocolate’s Paan bar (Paan is traditionally served as an after dinner digestive) and Quantu’s Route de la Soie bar with fennel, ginger, cassia, cardamom, white pepper, rose, star anise, long pepper, Sichuan pepper, saffron and clove. Argencove’s Passionfruit bar, Fjak’s 45% Melk Brunost bar of milk chocolate with Norwegian brown cheese and Theo and Philo’s Milk Chocolate Adobo with soy sauce and black pepper were other notable inclusion bars at the festival.

Inclusion Bars

Trend #6: An increasing amount of attention is being given to the importance of fermentation and fermentation techniques/styles in regard to the flavor of chocolate.  This includes experiments of fermentation styles and adding other ingredients during the fermentation process to see how flavor is affected. One example includes Mirzam’s coconut bar that used coconut ingredients during the actual fermentation process. I think time, more experiments and consistency are needed to tell how much flavor is truly changed by ingredients being added during fermentation. However, it was an interesting tasting exercise.

Mirzam’s Coconut Bar with Coconut Ingredients used during the Fermentation Process

Did you go to the NW Chocolate Festival? What trends did you notice?

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