Amsterdam Urban Adventures went on a chocolate journey to interview one their city’s confectionery experts to find out more about the sweets industry of Amsterdam. We talked to Adil, owner of Chocolátl, to learn more about his work, passion, and leadership in the chocolate industry, and came away fascinated by the world of traders, buyers, and creators behind one of the world’s most controversial and desirable products.
How did you become passionate about chocolate?
Purely by accident. I knew the previous owners and became friends with them. I heard they where moving away and I was afraid that Chocolátl would close.
Where does your chocolate come from?
I am very interested in chocolate artisans who have wide distribution, or who offer something different with the type of beans or unique techniques they bring to the product. The nice thing is the experience and industry is always changing.
For you, what should we feel when we eat a piece of chocolate?
Chocolate is an indulgence and it is pleasure. It should have a nice melt and flavours that come and go. Chocolate from Honduras, for example, tastes a bit fruity, followed by smokiness. These are the natural flavours that come through.
What do customers learn during your private lessons?
There is a basic intro to chocolate; here, you get the concepts of origin and production of fine chocolates, and how to look at chocolate as more than a simple snack. We also do taste pairings, something less common, like chocolate and cheese or chocolate and whisky. You can find on the internet lots of dark chocolate and red wine pairings, but our research shows dark chocolate goes better with white, and we try to question conventional knowledge. Our classes mainly cover history and production, or flavours and pairings
What do you like most about your job as a chocolate advisor?
The nice thing about having the shop is that everyone who walks in is a chocolate lover. Some customers have memories of their childhood and chocolate, and we try to introduce them to new flavours. Or an aware customer comes, and I get to talk about the industry with these people — who is new in the artisan world, what flavours are being talked about, and some of the insider discussions that go on between people in the chocolate world.
What are your flagship products?
I would have to say chocolate from Madagascar. Also some chocolates from Ecuador. But recently we have been selling 100% cocoa. Our shop is very popular because of our range in this product.
Do You know how many chocolates you have?
35 to 40 but we plan to bring in more.
What do you search for in buying your chocolate?
There is a certain amount of criteria. The first is the beans being bought by chocolate-makers. People who buy beans from farmers. But there must be fairness in the price for the bean. The second is taste, something not found in the shop already. We look for something unique. We just bought some new chocolates with beans from Ghana. So it is a combination of good fair prices, quality of manufacture, and different tastes, in that order.
Why did you choose to combine art and chocolate in your shop?
We try to go for a minimal design to showcase the various types of chocolate. But we also have a fun way of hanging art so that if you saw it, it would not remind you of chocolate right away — but might have something to do with a flavour you may taste in your chocolate.
Interested in learning more about cocoa production or want to try unusual pairings at a Chocolabs experience? Contact their team for more info.