We went out for Fiona’s birthday last night and we went to Cocoa on Ecclesall Road for a chocolate tasting session. You pay £7.50 per head and you get to taste all kinds of chocolate, learn about it and drink Black Forest Gateau tea.
It was a great evening: partly because even though we were friends from differing places (work, uni, family, neighbours etc) we all got on really well.
Cocoa itself is a chocolate shop opposite Coffee Revolution/The Evil Overlords on Ecclesall Road. I’ve been in the shop before, but it was many moons ago. They sell handmade chocolates, posh chocolate, fairtrade produce, teas, coffees, sweets from jars and goodness knows what else.
However, what I didn’t know was that there is more to it than the shop itself.
Owners Annie and Kate are impossibly young (about 23-24). They worked in the store as students and when they graduated, the owners sold it to them. Since then they have developed two extra rooms in the shop, the back room (pictured: not my picture, but yoinked from someone else) which is kitted out with all kinds of retro chocolate merchandise, chairs and more varieties of tea than I’ve ever seen before, and the upstairs, which is a nice seating area to sit and chat.
They run knitting clubs on a Thursday (so if Mr P ever visits, I know where he can go) and book clubs on a monthly Tuesday evening (which I think a few of us are up for) in these two rooms. They also use them as cafe space in the day. Kirstie and I have already vowed to come back and try the range of teas (and we are trying to persuade them to do tea-tasting events) and I’m sure their hot chocolate will be divine too.
The chocolate tasting was really cool. I’ve never been to a wine tasting (though I’d like to), although I have randomly been to a coffee tasting, but this seems to be on a similar premise. They get you tasting all kinds of choc, from 100% cocoa down to white choc. At the end of each set of chocs (dark, milk, white) we tried flavoured choc and also bog-standard stuff, and you could really tell the difference.
The most stark contrasts were in the white and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate really does taste very different according both to the percentage of chocolate and to the origin of it. They got us to taste a mass-market chocolate at the end which tasted more like milk – very milky and sugary and not pleasnt. Turned out that was Bournville, which shocked us all! the white we tasted was very creamy and buttery and then we had Milkybar, which just tasted a bit, well, fatty.
So obviously we have all spent lots of money and had cheap chocolate ruined for ever for us. But it was worth it.
Any Sheffield choc-lovers should go visit and especially try the chocolate tasting. This is a business I’d really like to support; the girls are lovely, they care about the products, they try hard to make something ‘special’ of the business with all these extra events and most (maybe all?) of the stock is ethically sourced, including one bar that is not only ethical in terms of trade etc but also is produced in a solar powered factory (that’s the dearest one, natch). The chocolate is not cheap, but it’s standard for posh fare, and the cafe prices are decent. They also have cupcakes from a local small business too, so that’s nice.
And the Black forest Gateau tea? It was lush: tea, then a hint of choc, then a hint of cherry.