After I came back to New Jersey in February 2018 after from making chocolate for indi chocolate in Seattle for seven months, I wanted to keep my passion and love for chocolate and my relationships and friendships in the industry alive. I created Chocotastery, a chocolate education and tasting experience company, to fulfill my commitment to the chocolate industry and to discover how I can make a difference in people’s lives when it comes to educating them on how chocolate is made and how to mindfully taste chocolate. Almost a year after creating Chocotasery, I had my first class on March 16th and quickly realized how one conversation could have a transformative impact on their appreciation of and love for chocolate.
In the weeks leading up to the class, I created a dynamic class format and had conversations with friends in the industry who are chocolate educators and became present to what I would offer my students. Through those conversations, I realized I had exactly what it takes - my diverse experience of making confections, making chocolate bean to bar and educating on various chocolate topics - to be authentic, genuine and meet my students where they are to teach them the basics and to give them the space to discover for themselves a whole new way to experience craft chocolate in ways they never knew existed.
I had partnered up with local, Jersey City foodie Instagram influencers to create giveaways for the class and had a few people who were there as a result of winning those giveaways. A special thanks goes out to Ashley from @jersey.munchies, Jackie from @jerseycityeats and Ashley from @hudsoncounty60 for their partnership and generating excitement around our class!
To start off the class and to get related to everyone in the class, I asked everyone who they were any why they attended. It allowed us to get comfortable to enter in the chocolate conversation.
I spent time sharing some basics around cacao and craft chocolate and where cacao is grown in the world. We then dove into how chocolate is made starting at origin through the final chocolate bar packaged and sold to consumers. We also discussed what was important for them when purchasing a bar of chocolate. The second half of the class was spent learning how to mindfully taste chocolate, using our Chocolate Tasting Guide and Chocolate Tasting Sheet, created in partnership with Sharon Klein.
We had tasted four craft chocolate bars varying in cacao percentage and from various cacao producing origins around the world made by Letterpress Chocolate, Goodnow Farms Chocolate, Villakuyaya and Taza Chocolate.
A defining moment for me and my journey with Chocotastery, was when one of my students shared that after she had tasted the Letterpress Chocolate - 70% Ashanti, Ghana bar that, “it was the best chocolate I ever had in my entire life”. It made me feel so accomplished, fulfilling on my mission and truly making a difference.
After we tasted the Taza Chocolate 60% Dominican Republic bar, another student shared how it took him back to his childhood sneaking into his grandmother’s cabinet and eating all of her chocolate.
These were just some of the vivid accounts and experiences that these students had that would not have happened if they didn’t commit to a fun chocolate experience and not knowing what to expect. The eight students left stepping into a new world of chocolate having experienced chocolate in a new way and excited for their future experiences.
The great news is that this wasn’t a one time opportunity. We have setup more classes for you to join and discover a whole new world of chocolate for yourselves.
Here are the upcoming dates for our next Intro to Mindfully Tasting Chocolate classes at Indiegrove on 121 Newark Avenue, 5th Floor, Jersey City, NJ 07302:
If you have any questions around our class or want to partner up for future events, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you all in a future class!