We should look beyond the label: the Academy of Chocolate

What is the Academy of Chocolate?

The Academy of Chocolate was launched in the UK in London on 15 June 2005 and its aims are to: – Encourage chocolate lovers to ‘look beyond the label’ to differentiate between chocolate confectionery and ‘real’ chocolate;

– to improve the standard and knowledge of chocolate in the UK by promoting an understanding of the ingredients of chocolate, through the chain, from bean to bar;

– to encourage the transparent sourcing of cocoa beans from the plantations, and their production in socially fair and environmentally undamaging conditions;

Last year the first Academy of Chocolate Awards were held awarding prizes to a number of leading chocolate makers including Amedei, Valrhona, Rococo, l’Artisan du La Maison du Chocolat, William Curley, Paul Young and Chococo. The Academy members are available for tastings and wine-pairings for the public, educational programmes in schools, and discussions, forums, visits, seminars and demonstrations for chocolatiers, trade buyers, delicatessen owners, chefs and the media. It will also act as a resource to provide advice and information on everything to do with fine chocolate for the public, the media, chocolate producers, cocoa growers, and the hospitality industry.  

The Academy of Chocolate awards is now an important event in the chocolate calendar with entries sent in from all over the World. 

The Academy was delighted to receive over 300 entries for the 2008 Awards and the judging in January of this year took over 3 days with 30 judges including some of the countries leading food journalists and Michelin starred chefs tasting and scoring the entries. Chocolatiers also join the judging panel but are not permitted to judge any of the categories that they enter. 


The 14 categories in the Academy of Chocolate Awards include ‘best chocolate makers bar’, ‘best ganache filled chocolate’, ‘best flavoured bar’ categories, ‘best truflle’, ‘best organic’ categories and ‘best drinking chocolate’. We are delighted that the best ‘chocolatier’ will, this year, be supported by Quinta do Noval Port. In keeping with the aims of the Academy, criteria for the awards are that products contain natural ingredients with no artificial flavourings and colourings. For the first time this year the Academy have also introduced a best packaging award.  

The Academy of Chocolate was created in 2005 by 5 of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. Membership has since grown but the aim remains the same, to campaign for better chocolate and promote a greater awareness between fine chocolate and mass-produced chocolate confectionery.The main aim:

Currently, only about 10% of fine cocoa beans reach our chocolate. The rest are destined for ‘industrial’ chocolate or chocolate confectionery.

The central point in the Academy is the belief that few producers really understand the difference between fine chocolate and confectionery. Nor do they realise that chocolate is made from a fruit, the cocoa bean, with flavours that can be just as subtle if they are not masked in sugar and fat. As a result it is difficult for consumers to find a selection of fine chocolate and make up their own minds. 

The members strongly believe that giving people the change to savour and to learn about fine chocolate will give them a greater appreciation and therefore an anticipation for more ‘proper’ chocolate. By the way, this doesn’t necessarily mean more 75% plus cocoa solids. Enjoying fine chocolate is not about suffering for the sake of very high cocoa solids. All the producers represented at the Academy produce their own milk chocolate bars. Top quality comes from a myriad of factors including the variety of the beans, where they are grown, the fermentation process, the drying and the manufacturers recipe and methods. 

Once you have discovered what pleasure, complexity, richness and wide sensations there is in fine chocolate, you never look at chocolate the same way, you never buy chocolate the same way. But not many people have had the opportunity to be introduced to fine chocolate and be blessed by the chocolate ‘light’. The Academy wants to bring this opportunity to as many people as possible, with no vested business nor commercial interest. 

 Demand for fine chocolate will act as an incentive to select better quality cocoa beans and therefore have an impact on the cocoa growing countries. They in turn will be able to take more care with their production, fermentation and drying methods thus protecting the workers and the environment. This will lead to a better price for the cocoa beans. Unless producers begin to pay cocoa farmers a decent price, like many other areas of agriculture, the young people will leave the plantations and move into cities where there is more lucrative employment. Cocoa plantations will give way to more lucrative forms of agriculture and the sources of the finer beans will be lost. Not only will this have a poor effect on the quality of cocoa and thus our chocolate but also will have a further destructive effect on the world’s environment. 


Published in: on giugno 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm  Comments (20)  

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