Where does your love of chocolate come from?
I fell in love with chocolate during my university days in London; as a nutrition graduate, I was always interested in food and taste. I worked in a British confectionery trading company and discovered the world of craft chocolate and it inspired me tremendously. I signed up for a chocolate-tasting course organised by the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting in 2014, which was an incredible experience, and learnt how to taste chocolate like a connoisseur. I founded [chocolate importing and consulting firm] The Chocolate Club Hong Kong the same year. This September, I launched my craft chocolate café, Chokohood.
What is the inspiration behind Chokohood?
I visited a few craft chocolate cafés like Marou in Vietnam, Dandelion Chocolate in Japan and Kad Kokoa in Thailand and I thought it would be wonderful to have a place that can offer the ultimate chocolate experience here in Hong Kong. It’s easy to find a good cup of coffee in the city but not a decent cup of chocolate. I also want to focus on chocolate tasting education. I have collaborated with brands like Plantation by Teakha for tea pairing, and Moët Hennessy for cognac and whisky masterclasses. Now, I am happy to have my own space to create more interesting tasting events. I believe education plays an important role in promoting the concept of craft chocolate in Asia. Without it, it is difficult for people to understand why they have to pay three times more for a bar of chocolate or chocolate drink.
How is your café a fully bean-to-bar experience?
We make our small batch bean- to-bar chocolate in the café using single origin cacao beans from Chiang Mai and Taiwan. We want to offer a wide range of products that showcase different styles and characteristics. The chocolate is made into different retail products, like packaged chocolate bars, too. My partners and I work out the menu and recipes together and our customers can see the process of chocolate-making when they join our tasting and pairing workshops.
For those who don’t know, what is single origin chocolate?
Single origin chocolate means the chocolate is made from one variety of cacao bean harvested in one estate or region. It’s similar to the concept of terroir in wine. Chocolate, too, comes from different origins, and all have different flavours, tasting notes and characteristics.