Debut British Digital Chocolate Festival places sustainability at its heart

The debut UK-founded Digital Chocolate Festival is set to offer some fresh sector inspiration, between Wednesday 14 to Tuesday  20 October, amid national Chocolate Week celebrations, reports Neill Barston.

Organisers of the online showcase explained to Confectionery Production that its core aims include celebrating sustainable cocoa sourcing, craft chocolate, and the artisans behind the industry that have opted to work directly with farmers in key growing territories to ensure the quality of their ranges.

Among the event’s other key virtual highlights are paid-for masterclasses and topics on Truffle making, Fermentation, Sensory chocolate tasting, and vegan chocolate tasting.

Other programme highlights include daily ‘meet the makers’ sessions, guided chocolate tastings and cacao meditations, with contributions representing regions from around the world.

This event is produced by Celebrate Cacao, the Exeter-based educational business with a mission to share its passion for, and educate others about, fine quality, bean-to-bar, ethically produced chocolate being made right here in the UK. 

Celebrate Cacao’s founder, Nicola Knight, has a strong track record in producing festivals for the sector. She previously developed an event in Exeter, which has been running successful since 2018. Nicola planned to create a new festival location in 2020, but coronavirus meant it had to be transferred online.

Nicola says: “Rather than let coronavirus ruin my plans and disappoint the many chocolate makers and fans, I decided to take the new festival digital. In doing so the festival is open to people from around the world who can find out more about the wonders of sustainable chocolate and the fantastic things happening in the UK at the moment.”

As she explained, her interest in the sector began from visiting the Belmont Estate – a cacao plantation in Grenada – and was able to see first-hand how the Grenada Chocolate Company made chocolate from tree-to-bar.

Inspired from her experiences a decade ago, she set about on an adventure to discover, learn about, taste and educate others about real chocolate. After leaving her career as a primary school teacher, Nicola founded her business, Celebrate Cacao, as it was a better fit for her family life.

She still loves to teach, but now she does it though her educational programme of school chocolate workshops, and private and corporate tasting sessions.

Although the festival is focused on premium chocolate, it also aims to educate people about direct trade between suppliers and chocolate makers. This method of sourcing cocoa increases traceability, allowing farmers to be paid a fair price for their beans, and supports the growth of small farms.  The event is taking place on Facebook, and  a timetable and tickets available at the following link: https://celebratecacao.co.uk/timetable   

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