So I know this is a little late as this happened in February but we really wanted to share this experience with you all:
Despite the bitterly cold February chill, guests near and afar braced the biting winds of the quaint seaside town and gathered in the warm, bright premises of Whitstable’s Victoria’s Boutique to experience what can only be referred to a luxurious necessity: Divine Fairtrade Chocolate Tasting evening. A must-go to event for everybody interested in Fairtrade or with an obsessive love for all that is chocolate.
Divine Chocolate, a chocolate manufacturing company formed in 1998, decided to donate its shares to Kuapo Kokoo, a Fairtrade-certified cocoa farmer’s organisation in Ghana. Since then, it’s thrived as a company, fully invested in assisting global farmers, and to use the power of chocolate to delight and engage. They aim to bring people together to establish global trading relationships, empowering producers and consumers along the way. It sells a lavish range of chocolate including Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate with Chilli and Orange, Dark Chocolate with Raspberries, White Chocolate with Strawberries and Milk Chocolate with Almonds.
Victoria’s Boutique, a cosy little boutique on Whitstable High Street, showcasing a variety of vintage designer outfits, was jam-packed when we arrived. When we entered the store, we immediately noticed the ‘chocolate tasting table’, a table laid out with chocolate and wine galore. Shepherded over to receive our complimentary glass of wine and sample of chocolate, Divine Chocolatier Erik Houlihan-Jong was busy preparing for his talk on the ethics of Divine chocolate.
After we’d finished our wine and chocolate, and listened to Erik’s fascinating talk on the Bar to Bean chocolate making process, we finally arrived at the time in the evening we were most looking forward to: the chocolate tasting. Eric broke up a bar of Dark Chocolate, Chilli and Orange, for us to try. He instructed us to hold the piece of chocolate, but not eat it yet. Instead, we should observe the chocolate with all of our senses. First, we need to consider the appearance of the chocolate, as it varies in colour. Touching the chocolate, it should feel silky, and begin to melt with the warmth of our finger. Then holding the chocolate up to our ear, we should snap it. The snap should be clean. Finally, take time to smell it. Similar to wine tasting, there are many aromas associated with chocolate. When we finally came to eat it, we first put the chocolate on our tongue and left it there without eating. Finally, we let the chocolate melt on our tongue.
Eating what seemed like our 200th sample of chocolate (sssh, I didn’t say anything), Erik explained to us how Divine chocolate helps farmers in third world countries. Cocoa trading company Kuapa Kokoo aims to ‘empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women’s participation in all of Kuapa’s activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa’. The company weighs, bags and transports the cocoa to the market in the most democratic way, not cheating the farmers, and passing savings onto members. Divine chocolate is made from the best of Kuapa’s cocoa beans. This has led to the development and farming communities farming skills are improvements on standards of living including water, health, education and sanitation, and increased awareness of child labour.
Upon leaving the Boutique, my first thoughts were ‘when is the next Divine Chocolate tasting?’ I came away with a few (or lot of) bars of chocolate and a desire to taste every single flavour of Divine chocolate in my life. It created a warm feeling in my heart to know that by buying Divine chocolate over a non-fair trade brand, I would be helping the livelihood of farmers on Ghanaian cocoa plantations.
Interested in hosting your own Divine Chocolate Tasting Evening? Click on this link http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/sites/default/files/img/TastingGuide.pdf to download the official Divine Guide to Chocolate Tasting, containing information about the Divine chocolate story, the Bean to Bar process, chocolate flavours and flavour wheel, organising your very own Divine Chocolate Party, and using wine.
Can’t afford to host this tasting evening, but still want to shop ethically? Visit this page for top tips on ethical shopping: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/food.aspx
Visit http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/ to find out more about this truly Divine company.