When I saw on Facebook that Amsterdam was going to have its own chocolate festival, I immediately bought a ticket. I think it was the first time Chocoa was held, and I think it was a great success. This two-day festival started today and will be on tomorrow too. It was quite busy today, especially because it is a bit of a fair instead of really a festival.
That means that sellers of chocolate and related items are very much into talking to the customers and potential suppliers a lot. Even though there were more customers than businessy supplier people, it still felt like a pretty business like event. Chocoa is held in the Beurs van Berlage in the center of Amsterdam and before I was even in the chocolate room, I already noticed that the attendees were pretty international, which was great.
There was a long queue for the testing presentations, where you could listen to a presentation and then test chocolate or cocoa beans. I had to go to the one with the cocoa beans tasting, as the chocolate ones that were soon to be on were already ‘sold’ out. You do not have to pay for the tasting as you already pay 10 euros entrance for the fair itself, but even though online it said everyone could do two tastings, when I was there it was so busy that everybody could only register for one, which was a bit of a pity, but understandable. As I went by myself I did not want to stay for too long, so I just went with the one that was left at 12 o clock: tasting cocoa beans.
But as I was very early, I had one hour to check out the fair itself, the room where the magic happened: where many chocolate companies offered samples of their amazing products and the place to buy it too. It was like being a kid in a candy store! The only problem is that because it is a fair, the sellers took a lot of time talking to customers and as it was quite busy, the waiting times per stand were very long. Even for the Belgian brand Hands Off, which is available in the supermarket (but I must say, has been one of my favorite brands in the lower priced chocolate range).
As it was an event in Amsterdam, there were a lot of Amsterdam shops, for example my favorite, Metropolitan. Metropolitan is pretty obsessed with chocolate and what I like about them is how they always experiment with it. I bought amazing chocolate marshmallows at the fair and they even handed them out flambee style combined with a strawberry, which was absolutely amazing (especially for a ‘sMores-fangirl like me).
Another stand that I really liked was the one of Bikkels, as they have a chocolate concept that totally fits the way I like to enjoy it: put a big chuck in your mouth while drinking tea. The way the chocolate melts away in your mouth and the combination with tea is amazing. This is going to sound wrong, but it tastes very right: Bikkels are hard chocolate balls that are to be put in the mouth without chewing. Have some tea or coffee with them and taste the magic, he he. They have all these fun flavours, for example bubblegum, whiskey, cherry, et cetera. I’ll make sure to review the Bikkels I bought on PsychoUnicorn.
There were lots of awesome chocolate makers but it was getting a bit frustrating for an impatient person like me to wait all the time. I did enjoy the little chit chat I had with the makers of the chocolate. I will not go into more detail on which brands were there and what I bought, as I will be reviewing that chocolate separately, but I can say that even though it is busy and you have to be patient: if you are with another chocolate junkie it will be a great event to visit, especially because the location is incredible and allows you to make it a nice day in the city.
By the time I had spend all my pocket money on amazing brands of chocolate, I was going to one of the presentation rooms to get to know different kinds of cocoa beans. Even though I’d rather try some chocolate when I arrived at the event, I was happy my presentation was about cocoa beans for two reasons: on the fair floor I had already tried a lot of small pieces of chocolate and you do not often get the change to eat the beans and try them at the same time, so you can really see, feel and taste the difference.
I did not love the presentation, it was very chaotic (or it was standing out to me more because I did a two-day workshop this week on presentation skills..) but I did really like trying beans. There were: Jamaica Polished, Guatamala Alta Verapaz, Costa Rica Maleku, Peru San Martin Bio, Madagascar Chocolatier Robert en Indonesia Java. I especially liked the Madagascar and the Indonesia ones, which is pretty right if I see what types of chocolate I love.
After that I went home, as I was so stuffed with chocolate and I had a few bars with me to eat next week. I do think Chocoa is a big success. It was nice and busy, it was a bit small and it was not perfect, but for a first time festival they have done a pretty good job. There was a special childrens place where kids could make a painting with cocoa, which is awesome, and it was a great way of spending my Saturday morning. I was afraid this fair would be too businessy and I did not really know what to expect, but I was very thrilled with the fact that on almost every stand you could try a piece of chocolate.
I still have to come down from my chocolate high right now, and at this moment there is so much cocoa running through my veins so I cannot really say that I will go again next year, but I am pretty sure I will (if it is on) and I am certain I will ask someone to join me to make the waiting and tasting more pleasant!