Chocolate Adventures in Amsterdam

Drinking chocolate at Chocolatl in Amsterdam

 I just returned from a great chocolate adventure in Amsterdam...

First, if you go to Amsterdam you must see the train station at night.  It has nothing to do with chocolate but the twinkling lights on the rooftop against the amazing architecture are breathtaking. 

Chocol├átl Amsterdam 

The first chocolate shop I found in Amsterdam was Chocolatl, if you are a serious craft chocolate enthusiast don't miss this one.  The owner, is a fantastic resource, probably the most knowledgeable shop owner I've found on my travels.  He is truly passionate about the topic and we could have talked all day.  The selection of craft chocolate is amazing.  I came back twice and left with many of the craft chocolate bars from makers in Europe that I've never seen in the USA.  When you visit you  must also try a choco shot, rich and thick liquid drinking chocolate. 

Barbie , Adil (owner of Chocolatl) , and Alexandre chocolatier and chocolate maker at Chocolaterie Atelier Alexandre

Urban Cacao

The next shop I tried was Urban Cacao.  This shop is geared toward those who like sweet chocolate and trendy inclusion/additions to their chocolate.   They sell confections and have a very large selection of bars sporting everything from mint to raspberry to lavender which I find quite unusual for a bean to bar maker.  Their graphics show cacao beans drying, empty bags of cacao are positioned as props, and I was told by the employees that this is a bean to bar operation, I only saw tempering machines and equipment for making confections at this location. Before I go next time I'll request a tour of their bean to bar facility.  The drinking chocolate was sweet and frothed in a high powered blender (I do love chocolate foam).

The Highfive Company meeting at Bocca Coffee Roasters

Hilde, Dennis, Viola, and Barbie meeting for chocolate at Bocca Coffee Roasters in Amsterdam

I spent part of an afternoon with The Highfive Company an importer and European distributor of specifically American craft bean to bar chocolate.  They operate online and don't have a retail location so Dennis van Essen,  the proprietor, suggested we meet at Bocca Coffee Roasters.  We tasted and talked chocolate while sipping drinking chocolate.

Bocca is serious about their coffee and their drinking chocolate as well. Watching the barista make the drinking chocolate and finish it with art in the foam similar to that we typically see in a latte was a treat.  

Dennis brought along Hilde and Viola, two charming chocolate loving ladies.  Hilde works with Dennis at Highfive, ( if you are close to their shops watch for events and tastings). Viola is in charge of chocolate at Bocca Coffee Roasters .

Although I was exhausted from traveling we had a great time tasting and talking chocolate.  It was fantastic to meet with people who are just as enthusiastic about craft chocolate as I am.  My only regret is that I left too quickly without picking up one of the chocolate bars Bocca carries sourced from Australian cacao.

Art on the drinking chocolate at Bocca Coffee Roasters in Amsterdam

tasting chocolate tools

The one resource I wish I had found before I went to Europe is the store locator map of the places The Highfive Company distributes craft chocolate.  Where there is American craft chocolate, I'm sure that there will be more fine, craft, bean to bar chocolate.  Next time I travel I'll study this map in advance for the locations that I will need to visit.

Just in case you are traveling to Europe soon, here is the map for you and the link to their shop locator

The Highfive Company chocolate shop locator

No adventure is complete without an unanswered question.  Why was this giant ball of foil rolling down the street?

Next I'll start tasting all of the bars I brought back from Amsterdam.  Stay tuned for more chocolate adventures.


Map Chocolate Galore

Map Chocolate bars

A few weeks ago, as a result of a contest by The Sassy Cupcake, I received a box of Map Chocolate. Each small batch crafted bar beautifully hand wrapped in a different paper, some maps, some with an interesting motif that echoes the bar it protects.

Five bars.

Giddy me.

Delights galore. I share with you amazingness...

The Peace of Wild Things. Map Chocolate

The Peace of Wild Things
Three origin blend 71%
Scents of roast and spice
Tasting notes of molasses like but a bit milder than typical molasses.  Currant, grape.
Finish is long and deep with roast and brown sugar notes.

Mt Hood Bar.  Map Chocolate

Mt Hood Bar
Vietnam Ben Tre 75% with coffee and gluten free oatmeal stout biscotti
Scents of malty coffee.
Tasting notes whirl as a blend of spicy/fruity Ben Tre with coffee and earthiness of the buckwheat biscotti.  Biscotti provides a really nice crunch.  Coffee plays well with the chocolate with both high fruity notes as well a bass of low and deep notes.
Malty finish and I want another piece to savor and crunch.

I Dream of Fiji.  Map Chocolate.

I Dream of Fiji
Fiji micro batch 78%
Thick bar, a pleasure to chunk off a piece for tasting.
Lightly smoky scents.
Tasting notes.  Texture as smooth as silk with smoky plum notes.  Fades to walnut.  Cream finish.

Nightswimming.  Map Chocolate

Night Swimming
dark milk 60% Belize
Scents of dark caramel with roasted hazelnuts in chocolate
Tastes like sweet caramel and hazelnut.  Almost some home made (by grandma of course) sugar cookie notes.  Perhaps a hint of citrus, maybe lemon?  A bit of  rough texture mid melt.  Finishes with sweet caramel notes.

Meteor Shower.  Map Chocolate

Meteor Shower
65% dark milk with toasted black sesame and lava salt
no origin noted, just taste, don't worry
Scents of toasted sesame and chocolate
Taste experience, silky smooth salty and sweet melt to start.  Caramelly and nutty rich notes then suddenly light, fresh, fruity notes of lychee spin in and out while the salt and sesame come back to visit in short bursts.  
Amazing milk and salt bar.  Most of the time I find bitter hiding behind salt in chocolate.  Not at all this time. Extremely well balanced.

Map Chocolate, you creative genius, I've never been one to love inclusions, until now.  Complex, well balanced inclusions in beautiful chocolate.

Tasting Cacao Sampaka La Joya Chocolate Bar Review

Trying out a new style of video and post, let me know what you think.

The Cacao Sampaka La Joya bar.