Earlier this month I went on my annual chocolate adventure to Seattle, Washington to attend the Chocolate Makers UnConference and the Northwest Chocolate Festival. This was the first year I was able attend the 3rd annual Chocolate Makers UnConference on November 10th and 11th. This event brought over 200 people in the industry under one roof to discuss some of the hottest chocolate related topics, network with friends and make new friends and connections. Some of big takeaways for me included getting the insight into how to build up and expand my business, important compliance issues that we need to focus on as small business owners, marketing, and wholesale distribution. We were also able to put our bars together and have a massive chocolate tasting area to try each other's chocolate. Networking was key and it was surely a rewarding experience.
After the UnConference was the largest chocolate festival in the US, the Northwest Chocolate Festival on November 12th and 13th. It was great to try some chocolate from some of the chocolate makers who I haven’t met and make new connections and of course pick up some more chocolate for my collection. I even made a purchase of two cacao pods from Mission Chocolate. They were selling cacao pods that were handmade by a woman in Bahia, Brazil. The cacao pods were so beautiful that I could not pass them up and it was an honor to support them.
There was also various educational classes which always adds value to the festival. It was great to get some new insight on a few parts of the chocolate making process and I also got to hear from Minni and Marlon from Uncommon Cacao who are Managing Directors of Maya Mountain Cacao and Cacao Verapaz where I source my cacao for my Belize and Guatemala bars. They were so informative on what happens at each origin and it gave me a deeper appreciation for those who work so hard to make the high quality cacao we are so blessed to work with.
After the four days of hanging out with some really amazingly talented people, I set out on another adventure to Seabrook, Washington to take the Level 1 and Level 2 Chocolate Tasting Courses with the International Institute of Chocolate & Cacao Tasting. Stay Tuned for a more in-depth write up on the classes!