Estonia, Tallinn

Chocokoo Chocolaterie

27th October 2019

Chocokoo Chocolaterie just might be my favourite find in Tallinn. The small shop, the beautiful chocolates, and more importantly, the owner, charmed me so deeply that I was very grateful to have visited this place at all.

Before visiting Tallinn, I read about Chocokoo and added it to my food list. I love local shops specializing in handmade products and I had a good feeling about this place. In particular, I have a penchant for chocolate shops which excel at what they do and which you can only find in their home country, like Sjokolat in Antwerp and Summerbird in Copenhagen.

After warming up with lunch at Telliskivi Creative City, I embarked on the 6 minute walk to Chocokoo in the rain. Yes, it’s that close to this popular artistic hub. When I entered the small shop, I was greeted by a friendly woman behind the counter. I began browsing the chocolate display and struck up a conversation with her about them. Turns out that this was Kristel, the shop owner and chocolate artist extraordinaire, and I was about to learn SO much from her.

Kristel’s story of entrepreneurship is impressive. She previously worked in a completely different field and had NO business management experience whatsoever. She had never worked for herself nor had she ever run a business. Nonetheless, about 5 years ago, she decided she needed a change and that it would be based on her passion for chocolate. In her own words, “I loved chocolate so much that I wanted to learn more”. So Kristel went abroad to Costa Rica to embark on her chocolate journey. There she learned first-hand about cocoa beans, how they’re grown, fermented, and prepared in order to be used for chocolate. Kristel then taught herself how to make chocolate bars and flavoured truffles. She is, in every sense of the word, a self-made chocolatier (or šokolaadimeister in Estonian).

During our discussion, she gave me a mini lesson on how cocoa beans are grown and fermented and how she then turns them into chocolate herself. IT. WAS. FASCINATING. Kristel values the work of cocoa bean farmers, which is why she fairly sources the beans from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Chocokoo specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate, meaning that the cocoa beans aren’t heavily processed in order to preserve their integrity. Kristel informed me that some processes compromise the quality and flavour of the chocolate so she avoids this.

Chocokoo’s bean-to-bar chocolate bars are made of simple ingredients to keep the chocolate as pure as possible: cocoa nibs, their resulting cocoa butter, and a small amount of raw cane sugar. That’s it. But Kristel informed me that the secret is in the ratios of these ingredients. She makes 5 types of bars, each one made with the beans from one of the origin countries mentioned above.

Kristel had some of the bean-to-bar chocolates out to sample and I tasted a few. The pure, undiluted flavour of the cocoa beans is immediately evident in each one. Interestingly, each bar has a distinct taste, and this solely comes down to the unique qualities of each type of bean and the conditions in which they’re grown. In other words, the cocoa beans from Vietnam have a different flavour from those harvested in Costa Rica, and so on. Each variety of bean brings its own taste. In fact, one type of bean brought a more smokey flavour to the chocolate, which was unlike any other chocolate I’d tasted before.

I greatly appreciated that Kristel took the time to talk to me, to share her story, and to tell me about her chocolate. I loved every minute of it, but it doesn’t end here! Beyond chocolate bars, Chocokoo also specializes in handmade truffles. The display case in the shop stocks colourful chocolate gems (of which there are many). Flavours change seasonally (although there are regulars) and you can choose your own combination for boxes of 4, 6, 10 or 16 truffles. The truffles are made of chocolate that is tempered in house and filled with fruit purées and creams.

In February 2016, Kristel was invited to make her truffles for the Estonian president’s celebrations of the 98th anniversary of Estonian independence. Each year, Estonian artisans and chefs are invited to propose their creations for the celebrations, but they must be accepted by a panel to participate. It’s no surprise that they jumped on the opportunity to bring Kristel’s gems to such a high-scale event! For the president and invited guests, she prepared vanilla banana, spicy caramel, cherry tonka, and Earl Grey truffles. Lucky, lucky guests.

Of course, I had to buy a variety box for myself. I opted for 10 different flavours: Earl Grey, salted caramel, coconut lime mango, pistachio, cherry tonka, coffee, raspberry lychee, passionfruit, pear ginger, and chanterelle caramel. Yes, you read that last one correctly. And yes, it’s chanterelle like the mushroom. In fact, the chanterelle caramel bonbon won gold at the 2018 International Chocolate Awards in the caramel category of the Eastern European division. Quite the accomplishment! Kristel is clearly very proud of this because she encouraged me to include one in my variety box. The flavours that I didn’t manage to fit into my box (but which are probably really, really good) were plum, apricot, raspberry, black garlic, and chili.

I waited until I returned to Edinburgh to enjoy my variety box and they did not disappoint! They were all truly incredible! I savoured each small bonbon and took pleasure in tasting their smooth, sweet, and punchy fillings. I genuinely enjoyed each one and was SO glad that I opted for a mixed box of 10. In hindsight, I should’ve gotten the box of 16 because I enjoyed them so much. With each bite, it was clear that these truffles are made with care, precision, and expertise. The flavours are creative, vibrant, and moreish. I appreciated every single one, but if I were forced to choose favourites, I’d pick the raspberry lychee, coconut lime mango, pear ginger, and passionfruit bonbons. Though in reality, they were all stunning and I would eat them all over and over again!

As for the chanterelle caramel bonbon, it was lovely. Don’t worry, it wasn’t particularly mushroomy, but the earthyness of the chanterelles was balanced perfectly by the sweetness of the caramel. Such a unique treat! If you’re wondering, it’s the shimmery gold chocolate in the photos!

This post is massive, probably one of my longest ones yet, but there is simply too much to say about the wonderful Chocokoo. The chocolate is unique, the ingredients are high quality, and the owner exudes an honest passion for her trade and her cozy shop. Chocokoo truly is a must-visit in Tallinn. Please, please, please add it to your list and support an entrepreneur who genuinely cares about her craft. Tallinn is incredibly lucky to have Chocokoo on its doorstep. And I consider myself lucky to have found this shop at all!


Tips:

– Address: Telliskivi 33, 10611

– Located not too far from Telliskivi Creative City so visit both together

– Sample the bean-to-bar chocolates to decide which one you like most

– Buy a variety box of the beautiful handmade truffles

– Closed on Sundays


Website: https://chocokoo.ee/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChocokooChocolaterie/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chocokoo_chocolaterie/


Jess

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