7th March 2013: Life by Chocolate; An Adventure Into Cacao By Ali Gower

Ali Gower Chocolate Tree
Ali Gower – The Chocolate Tree

On 7th March 2013 Tim Willis and Ali Gower will be doing a talk from 7pm in the Counting House in Edinburgh

Name of speaker and subject:

Alastair Gower, co-owner of The Chocolate Tree. Cacao sourcing, preservation of biodiversity, ethical trade & chocolate making from bean to bar.

Title of talk:

Life by chocolate; an adventure into cacao

Bullet points of what you would like to cover:

  • A brief cultural history of cacao
  • Cacao variety and preservation of native strains
  • Direct trade vs certification
  • A trip to Peru. Our journey to the Maranon Canyon
  • From cacao to chocolate:
  • Processes on farm
  • Processes at factory
  • Tasting, getting the most out of chocolate


Suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where further information may be found:

A few words about you and your passion:

The Chocolate Tree began trading at music festivals in Scotland. We built a geo-desic dome which housed our mobile chocolaterie. The positive reactions we received at the festivals highly motivated us, and we progressed The Chocolate Tree to become our full time passion and business. Every year there is a new door to open; recently we built a small chocolate factory in Haddington and became one of the first UK chocolatiers to work directly from cacao beans. In February 2013 we will travel to the Maranon Canyon in Peru to meet with cacao growers who are growing a particularly rare strain of cacao.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

The subject of cacao & chocolate is highly topical. Despite being a food that is renowned for it’s pleasure giving properties, it has a dark cultural history. In the history of the Maya and the Aztecs of South & Central America cacao was highly respected and sought after. When introduced to Europe, the Europeans evolved the processes of manufacture to create sweeter more palatable chocolate, which then boomed to mass production during food industrialisation. More recently, cacao enthusiasts are discovering rare and highly aromatic cacao, whilst researchers are discovering the true health giving properties of cacao. There is a small movement of artisan chocolate makers emerging, putting ethics and quality before profits, giving consumers the opportunity to re-discover chocolate in a way that can not only bring immense pleasure, but also a clear ethical conscience.


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