Cup North 2017 Part 2

Raw Materials


I’ve cupped with Raw Materials before, after discovering the taste sensation that was their Rwanda Kilimbi lot at London Coffee Festival. This time they were presenting their lots from El Fenix, Colombia, a project of theirs that goes beyond the usual green bean importing. In 2016 they ran a kickstarter to help fund the construction of a community wet mill in Quindío, Colombia in order to offer farmers that traditionally sold their coffee at market prices the opportunity to process their coffee at a central mill and engage in education to improve the quality of their coffee. Paying farmers above the market price for producing great coffee is one thing, but improving the quality of coffee in an area not traditionally producing specialty, so that farmers can charge more is another. You can read more about the project here

Continue reading


Beau Cacao Serian Malaysia 72% 90.5/100


This bar is made using beans grown by Mr Cyril at the Serian Estate in Northwest Borneo. Once harvested they’re shipped to east central London where Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour turn them into one of their attractive chocolate bars. Continue reading

Chocolat Bonnat Indonesia Surabaya 65% Dark Milk 91/100


This bar is made using cocoa beans from the island of East Java, named after the city port of Surabaya. Once harvested the beans are shipped to Voiron in France where Stephane Bonnat turns it into one of his ‘Les Grand Crus’. Chocolat Bonnat have too much history and expertise to write about here, but have a plethora of information available on their website including an ungodly array of single origin and grand cru chocolate bars for you to marvel at.  Continue reading

Beau Cacao Asajaya Malaysia 73% 92/100


This bar is made using beans grown by Mr Chang at the Asajaya Estate in Northwest Borneo. Once harvested they’re shipped to east central London where Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour turn them into one of their attractive chocolate bars. Continue reading

Cup North 2017 Part 1

cup north

This year’s Cup North was slower and more relaxed than in previous years, less sirens, less amped up music and as Brian Williams pointed out it was warmer too. Warmer not just in ambient temperature, but in spirits and that oh so intangible of currencies, conversation. The coffee’s great, it’s almost always great at festivals these days, cups of excellence and bags of unusual microlots for showcasing the length and breadth of specialty coffee’s extremes and well it wouldn’t be a coffee festival without it, but to my mind as good as the coffee is, it’s not necessarily the most valuable thing on offer. Coffee, it seems to me, is somewhat of a vocational calling and it appears to attract some pretty passionate individuals, the kind who talk about hard work, difficulty and problem solving all through the encouraging smile on their face, they’re interested and interesting all at the same time. It’s these people that are the real gems of a coffee festival and so while I might mention the odd geisha or natural microlot from time to time, this article is dedicated to those people, those conversations and to those at Cup North who make this kind of thing possible. Continue reading

Damson Chocolate Nicaragua Johe 70% 91/100


This bar is made using single variety Johe beans from Ingemann Fine Cocoa. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Damson’s chocolate workshop in Islington before being processed and combined to make this chocolate bar. Run by Don Ramsey of Chocablog fame, Damson chocolate represents the transition from chocolate blogger, to chocolate judge, to chocolate bar seller, to chocolate bar maker, the only thing left now will be for Damson to start growing their own cocoa beans. Continue reading

Chocolate Tree Peru Chililique 70% 91.5/100


This bar is made with beans sourced direct from Chililique in the north west of Peru, in collaboration with CacaoTales. You can read about the farm and the visit here. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Haddington just east of Edinburgh to Chocolate Tree’s factory where husband and wife team Alastair & Friederike Gower turn these beans into one of Chocolate Tree’s chocolate bars. Continue reading