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Program 2016

  • Bertil Akesson, founder of Akesson’s (Madagascar)
  • Martin Christy, founder Seventy %, Direct Cacao and head of the Grand Jury International Chocolate Awards (UK)
  • Clay Gordon, founder of the largest online chocolate community www.thechocolatelife.com and author (US)
  • Philipp Kauffmann, founder Original Beans (the Netherlands)
  • Anna Laven, Senior advisor sustainable economic development at Royal Tropical Institute, and author (the Netherlands)
  • Maricel Presilla, President of Gran Cacao Company, food historian, chef, restaurant owner, and author (US)
  • Jack Steijn & Caroline Lubbers, founders of Equipoise – Markets in balance (the Netherlands)

Read more about the speakers:

Anna Laven – Senior advisor sustainable economic development at Royal Tropical Institute, author of Chocolate Forever (the Netherlands)
Anna Laven has gained much knowledge during her PhD research in Ghana on the international cocoa supply chain, examining all actors in the chain and their interactions, from the small-scale cocoa farmers to the chocolate manufacturers. As a consultant, using the chain perspective was a starting point. By working together to identify chain actors and interactions, we can bring to light the opportunities for local economic development that are created by the chain, as well as its limitations. She also likes to help people working in the field to write down their experiences. Documenting knowledge is a powerful tool. It helps the person with experience to get his or her knowledge across. At the same time, by systematizing knowledge, it makes it easier for others to learn from another’s experience. And the beauty of it is that we as facilitators also continue to learn! As a knowledge institute with expertise in the field of sustainable cocoa, KIT is looking forward to participating. “We’re pleased to contribute our expertise to this event, which draws attention to sustainable cocoa.”

Bertil Akesson – Founder of Akesson’s (Madagascar)
ÅKESSON’S is a small and exclusive Planter’s Line of Chocolate & Fine Exotic Foods. They have their own plantations in Madagascar and in Brazil where they grow mainly cocoa, but also coffee, peppercorns, nuts and spices. Akesson’s cocoa plantations supply beans to top-end chocolate makers from all over Europe, America and Japan. Working closely with these passionate chocolate makers, Bertil Akesson wanted to give its own interpretation of chocolate.  That is how ÅKESSON’S was launched in 2009. ÅKESSON’S Fine Chocolate & Exotic Foods are now available in the best Fine Food Stores across 16 countries.

Clay Gordon – Founder of the largest online chocolate community www.thechocolatelife.com and writer of the book ‘Discover Chocolate’ (US)
How does chocolate gets its taste? Clay Gordon looks at the various factors, from genetics to terroir to manufacturing to sensory evaluation that affect how and why chocolate gets its taste. From the genetic potential to the final stages of conching and then tasting, this will give you a better idea of just how difficult it is to make a fine chocolate. Clay is a regular speaker at the Origin Chocolate Event: “Held at the truly magnificent Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, The Origin Chocolate event is a rarity on the chocolate festival circuit—an intimate event that’s unapologetically focused on fine flavor cocoa and chocolate. Participants get to meet and learn from people passionately and personally involved in making some of the best chocolate that can be had and learn from some of the top chocolate educators in the world.”

Philipp Kauffmann – Original Beans (the Netherlands)
Making the world better through chocolate. Original Beans is an award-winning premium chocolate and conservation company founded on the simple idea that what we consume we must replenish. Since 2008, Original Beans has helped to plant more than one million trees in regions as remote as the amazon and challenging as Eastern Congo. Through direct trade and reforestation projects, Original Beans has been able to chang the lives of twenty-thousand cocoa growing families, preserve some of the rarest species in the world and help to buffer forests that harbour the last mountain gorillas and the breathtaking birds of paradise. In search of the origins of cacao in Southamerica, Jan learned from the bottom up everything about the delicious fruit and its multilayer manufacturing process. “Mr. Bean” oversees the Original Beans projects in Latin America and passes on his knowledge on fairs and through lectures.

Kees Raat – Metropolitan (Netherlands) 
Kees comes from a family of bakers. Early on in his career he specialized in chocolate and was one of the first chocolatiers who used ingredients such as balsamic, rosemary or peppercorns in his bonbons. He has is own shop in the Warmoesstraat, in the center of Amsterdam, where he makes his own bean-to-bar chocolate. He has written several cooking books and is famous for his homemade ice-cream. A true innovator full creative ideas.


Maricel Presilla – President of Gran Cacao Company, food historian, chef, restaurant owner, and the author of The New Taste of Chocolate (US)
Maricel Presilla is a food historian specialized in the foods of Latin America, specifically cacao. She is also a James Beard award-winning chef who owns two celebrated pan-Latin restaurants and a chocolate shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. Presilla is the author of two seminal books on cacao and chocolate, ‘The New Taste of Chocolate: A Natural and Cultural History of Cacao with Recipes’ and ‘Gran Cocina Latina, a new encyclopedic tome on the foods of Latin America’ with an illuminating section of cacao and chocolate in the Americas. She is the president of Gran Cacao, a research and development company that specializes in heirloom cacao beans from Latin America. She will share her experiences sourcing superlative cacao in the Americas and creative and unusual ways to use the resulting chocolates in the kitchen.

Martin Christy – Founder Seventy %, Direct Cacao and head of the Grand Jury International Chocolate Awards (UK)
Martin Christy is one of the world’s leading bean-to-bar fine chocolate experts. With seventeen years’ experience of fine chocolate, he has travelled the globe visiting cocoa plantations and meeting the world’s top producers. Martin was a founding member of the Academy of Chocolate in the UK and is a consultant to the fine chocolate and cacao growing industries worldwide. As well as his regular online chocolate blog, Martin has written features for UK magazines and has worked on several books about fine chocolate, including Chantal Coady‘s ‘The Connoisseur’s Guide to Chocolate’ (Apple Press, 2007). Martin is behind Seventy%’s experiential approach to ‘Slow Chocolate’ and is Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, of which the semi finals take place in Hilton, Amsterdam.

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