While commercial chocolates, which people often grow up eating, bank on never-changing familiarity, craft chocolates thrive in experimentation and new flavours. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in craft chocolates in India with more people not only relishing them, but also wanting to understand the techniques producing notes and decoding their unique flavour notes. The upcoming craft chocolate festival in Bengaluru is for these curious chocolate fans and makers.
The third edition of The Indian Cacao & Craft Chocolate Festival will bring together craft chocolate makers, cacao farmers, industry professionals and chocolate enthusiasts for two days. With a festival centred around craft chocolate, many might wonder what’s so special about it. It’s about the cacao bean, the origin and no adulterations, says Ketaki Churi, a chocolatier, chocolate maker and product developer from Mumbai.
“Craft chocolate brands do not use oils, stabilisers or emulsifiers. It’s about the cacao bean and any ingredient that they want to highlight. Any food product when it goes through a lot of processing loses its nutritional value,” she adds. The process of making craft chocolate focuses on getting the most out of the cacao.
It’s this focus on craft chocolate that sets the festival apart. “This is the first speciality food festival in India, which entirely highlights a product like craft chocolate,” says co-founder Patricia Cosma, a bean-to-bar chocolate consultant and connoisseur from Romania.
Cosma believes that the flavour profiles of cacao in India are “really special” and stand out when compared to other places. While it’s well-known that Indians love their chocolate, there has also been an uptick in craft chocolate sales since the pandemic as more people have become conscious about the ingredients in their food. She adds, “I really feel India has amazing potential for craft chocolate. There are some really interesting upcoming brands in the market today.”
Some of these brands include Hyderabad's Manam and Mumbai's Subko Cacao who will be part of the festival. Manam will host a two-hour chocolate-tasting festival and take the audience through the history of cacao and engaging them tasting sessions. Subko Cacao will talk about the different fermentations they have experimented with to make their chocolate.
The aim of the workshops, tasting experiences and talks at the festival is to familiarise craft chocolate to people in the right manner and introducing them to the craft chocolate makers of India.
About 12 sessions are happening over the two days including the popular artisanal cheese and craft chocolate tasting session hosted by Cosma. The focus is on people learning through fun and by engaging their senses, explains Churi.
Churi will be hosting the Taste with Colour! workshop where people will taste a piece of chocolate and write down the colour that pops into their mind, which they will later paint with. “They will be provided with a sheet with colours and flavours on it. So, we will work on connecting these colours with the flavours while painting. It’s a fun way to understand what people are tasting,” she explains.
In the age of social media, where branding and marketing are key for selling any product, those cannot be ignored at a festival of this scale. Chitra’m Chocolates from Coimbatore will cover branding and market analysis of craft chocolates, which is particularly for people who are interested in entering the craft chocolate sector.
For bakers and food enthusiasts who want to know how to use craft chocolate in different recipes, chef Ruby Islam of Manam Chocolate will host a session on the different applications of craft chocolate, and Trippy Goat Café will talk about how to pair wine with craft chocolate.
“Last year, a lot of people who came to the festival didn’t know what a cacao pod looked like or what cacao bean tasted like. Even though we consume chocolates regularly, often we are unaware about its origins. Through this festival, we want people to know about cacao in India and the efforts farmers are taking to improve the quality,” says Churi. “We just hope people will fall in love with craft chocolate.”
The Indian Cacao & Craft Chocolate Festival will held at Bangalore International Centre on 25 and 26 November.