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Two chocolate producers scoop much coveted Golden Beans at 2021 Academy of Chocolate special awards


The Academy of Chocolate today announced its special award winners for 2021, with Standout Chocolate and Krak Chocolate both winning a Golden Bean award.


Announced via AoC’s Instagram account, leading chocolate makers from across the world were celebrated as part of the industry’s most established annual awards.


Fredrik Martinsson of Standout Chocolate from Sweden, with his Single Origin Belize Maya Mountain 70%, was awarded his Golden Bean for a smooth-melting bar, displaying notes of lemon, raisins and apricot, leaving a clean but fruit-packed aftertaste.


The second Golden Bean winner, Dutch chocolate maker Mark Schimmel, was lauded for Krak Chocolate’s Sierra Nevada 55% dark milk bar. Judges noted bright uplifting aromas, a long, smooth, mouth coating melt and intense cacao with notes of rich fudge, black tea, honey and roasted nuts.


The Golden Bon Bon award went to Rita Zamoshchina of La Carambole. Her “DZE” chocolate, incorporating Krak’s Golden Bean-winning milk chocolate, reflects a mini-dish from Georgia that features a vibrant spice mix called Khmeli-Suneli.


The UK Newcomer/Rising Star was first time entrant Alexandra Mihai of London based Humblebeez who secured a gold as well as silvers and bronzes in Bon Bons with some inventive and invariably beautiful and delicious filled chocolates.


This year’s European Rising Star was Basque based first-time entrant Pablo Ibarreche of LURKA. The bean to bar chocolate maker specialises in flavour combinations deriving from the Basque country (Patxaran) and from Mexico (Totomoxtleash & blue corn). Lurka’s bars achieved three silvers and six bronze awards.


The International Rising Star award went to Kanvela from Thailand, who made a considerable impact with their Tree to Bar entries and also enjoyed success with their filled chocolates, featuring local flavours such as pandan custard and roasted sticky rice. Kanvela was also a first-time entrant, achieving four silvers and four bronzes.


The Shining Bright Awards are presented to chocolate makers who have further developed their products and achieved considerable success over the last year.  The first of these went to David Menkes of Letterpress Chocolate (US), who achieved a remarkable tally of five golds, four silvers and a bronze with his Bean to Bar entries, outshining his previous successes.


2019 Rising Star Trevor Smith of Metiisto (Australia) also achieved five golds this year, running the gamut of plain, milk, 100% and flavoured bean to bar entries, meriting a 2021 Shining Bright award.


Two French chocolate makers, Chocolaterie A.Morin and Manufacture Cluizel, earned many plaudits for their bars once again with Morin venturing successfully into drinking chocolate. The long-standing consistency and excellence of both companies is reflected in their Shining Bright awards.  


For his dedication to the terroir of Tree to Bar, the Mott Green Award goes to Nick Davis of One One Cacao. Its ‘one pod, one bean at a time’ approach forms the backbone of the Kingston, Jamaica-based bean to bar enterprise. The company also has a teaching remit via in-person and online chocolate making and tasting adventures that show how the tastes of chocolate can change within a few miles of each cacao production locale.


The 2021 Social Enterprise Award was given to Chocolate Rebellion who released a collection of bars from each country participating in the Cross Atlantic Chocolate Collective, an organisation formed to bridge the gap between grower, maker and consumer, and provide an equitable chocolate experience via Tree to Bar production from countries spanning continental Africa and the Caribbean. All sales will go to improving education and facilities that reward the grower-producers and their rural communities.


A Special Award was launched honouring the founder of the Academy of Chocolate, Sara Jayne Stanes, who sadly passed away last year.  As was Sara’s wish, the Sara Jayne Stanes Award was given to Duffy Sheardown, a pioneer of the British Bean to Bar movement, for his talent, passion and commitment to the sector over the last decade.


The Brand Experience Trophy went to Casa Cacao at El Celler de Can Roca. The 100% cardboard house was commended for its bean to bar contents and stories. Judges were impressed by the thorough storytelling, with each layer offering a unique tale in addition to a built-in tasting format.


Chantal Coady OBE, chair of the Academy of Chocolate, said: “This has been an incredible year for the chocolate industry.


“Whilst delays brought about by the pandemic have led to lots of disruption for the industry, it has been really inspiring to see the level of chocolate making taking place across the globe.


“Our industry is resilient and has proven that, despite adversity, the creativity, passion and enthusiasm for chocolate making is never going to be stifled.


“I’m incredibly proud of every single winner and wish them every success.”