Behind the scenes at the School of Chocolate

17 Nov 2022

Chocolate Knowledge Events

You’ll never look at (or taste) your chocolate the same way again after visiting our School of Chocolate, for all the right reasons.

Chocolate is all-too-often considered a quick snack, to be eaten mindlessly in front of the TV or on-the-go, without much thought going into it. Sound familiar? What if we told you there’s a better way to enjoy chocolate? A slower, more mindful way?

As the only British chocolatier to grow some of our own cacao, we pride ourselves on knowing a thing or two about chocolate. Our immersive chocolate tasting and making experience in London is an ideal Christmas gift for the chocolate lover in your life. To whet your (or rather, their) appetite, here’s a little look at what goes on behind the scenes…

Understand what’s in your chocolate

What goes into chocolate? Have you ever stopped to actually read that ingredients list on the back of the pack, and think about how what you see there impacts how your chocolate tastes? Your School of Chocolate guide will talk you through the all-important ingredient of cacao, how much is in our chocolate, how the percentage included can change everything, and what else goes into the mix to result in good quality, deeply chocolatey chocolate that’s really worth savouring.

Learn how to really taste chocolate

How it looks, how it feels, how it smells. There’s so much more to chocolate than just how it tastes. It’s an experience. An escape. We’ll show you how to examine chocolate so you can recognise what is good quality and what isn’t. Learn the ins and outs of why dark, milk and white chocolate all have their own distinctive taste and texture.

You’ll also understand how your own individual palate can affect your experience, what it means when chocolate is single-origin, and (just like with wine-tasting) how where the bean comes from can impact the flavour. For example, did you know that chocolate made with cacao beans from Ghana and chocolate made with cacao beans from Honduras have completely different flavours?

Much of the world’s chocolate contains sugar as a main ingredient. Why? Because sugar is much cheaper than cacao and lots of chocolate producers are all about keeping costs down and profits up. But, sugar dominates your tastebuds with its sweetness, masking the deep and nuanced flavours of cacao. That’s not real chocolate. It’s like taking a fine whisky and diluting it with ginger beer. That’s why our chocolate is made with more cacao and less sugar.

Get to know the farming and production process

It takes around four years for a cacao tree to bear fruit, and cacao pods are one of the only fruits in the world to not fall off the tree when ripe. Growing cacao takes time, dedication, care and passion and (trust us) learning everything it takes to get it from bean to bar will make you appreciate your chocolate all the more. You’ll learn all about where cacao grows and why this is important. Find out how a farmer goes about growing cacao and how they know when it’s ready for picking. Then, how the beans are harvested, fermented and dried ready to be made into chocolate.

See how chocolate is made up close – and make your own!

How is chocolate made? In a nutshell (or cacao shell), beans are roasted and ground, before going through a machine that separates the shells from the nibs. The nibs then go through a process called conching, where they’re pressed into a cacao paste. This paste is then added to cacao butter and sugar, plus milk for milk chocolate. During your School of Chocolate experience, you’ll have the chance to see each of these stages up close. Then, you’ll be rolling up your sleeves and having a go at making your own, from conching the cacao nibs and adding your supplementary ingredients to tempering and, finally (and most importantly), tasting!

How to book the School of Chocolate

The School of Chocolate takes place at our Cocoa Vaults venue in Covent Garden, London. The experience lasts 90 minutes and includes a glass of Prosecco, a goody bag and a 10% discount to use in the shop on the day. You can select your preferred date and time when you book on our website, or you can buy a chocolate experience gift card that can be redeemed against the School of Chocolate – a perfect Christmas gift.

Book your School of Chocolate Experience

Buy a Chocolate Experience Gift Card