Coffee and Chocolate Affair 2009 Round-Up

If you happen to know who is responsible for the idea of dedicating an entire day to coffee and chocolate, and then actually making it happen please tell me. I and several thousand other people would like to tell them they rock!

The 2009 Coffee and Chocolate Affair at Portside Wharf last Sunday (12 July) made my weekend, as it’s not too often you have an excuse to consume copious amounts of coffee and chocolate without people telling you you’re going to have a heart attack; end up looking like Manuel Uribe; or simply never sleep again

This year’s Coffee and Choc Affair featured about 25 different stalls and vendors. This didn’t feel like quite as many as last year but there was still a pretty decent variety – coffee retailers, wholesalers and equipment distributors, many chocolatiers, several cake stores, brownies and fudge vendors as well as ice cream.

By far and away the biggest draw cards were the Lindt chocolate fountains with chocolate-coated strawberries and the choc and coffee master classes.

I started my day at Red Dog Coffee Traders and grabbed a flat white to kick things off. Red Dog was doing an extremely brisk trade and coffees were flying out the door at $2 a pop. Impressively the wait was only four or five minutes, which is less than I’ve experienced in some city-based cafes when they’ve been almost empty. Red Dog was also selling choc coated coffee beans, which are one of my favorite combinations.

I spent the best part of an hour sampling my way up the line of stalls, dodging parents with strollers and stilt walkers while soaking in the winter sun. Notable standouts included Shott Beverages, who do a range of coffee syrups, efudge, who not surprisingly, make fudge, and Dello Mano chocolates, who had the best brownies I’ve ever tasted. If you have a chance I highly recommend you wrap your mouth around a choc macadamia brownie – you’ll spend the next 10 minutes smiling uncontrollably and going mmm mmm mmm.

It was clear however, that the reason that everyone was there was the Lindt choc dipped strawberries. The line of people was 20 deep when I joined the back of it and everyone was anxious to get their grubby paws on the novelty at $1 a pop. The wait took about 30 mins and many around me were questioning “why are we doing this?” and “dude, do you want to just come back later?”. Pfft, softies. People were ordering 10 at a time and the smell of warm melting chocolate was delicious when you finally got close enough to catch a whiff.

Half a dozen strawberries later, I began wondering if a chocolate fountain is the kind of thing you could set up at home, and began picturing my kitchen renovated in Willy Wonka-style.

This year’s program also included some master classes and barista competitions hosted by Di Bella Coffee and we decided to check them out, if only for the opportunity to sit down. We caught the end of a master class with Thomas Schnetzler of Lindt (more samples) and settled in to watch a couple of rounds of the professional barista championships. Six pairs competed and although half the teams were Di Bella employees, it was clear that the judges weren’t cutting anyone any slack. The team from Two Cups in Spring Hill finished 1st with a grand total of 23 flat whites in seven minutes. 23 may not seem like a lot, but apparently barista competitions are incredibly anal and the judges appeared to be disqualifying more cups than they were letting through!

The final point of interest for the day was trying my first siphon coffee from Veneziano. I’d seen the equipment before in Tokyo a couple of years ago but didn’t realize that anyone in Brissy was doing it. Siphon coffee bars don’t use an espresso machine; instead they use a set up more akin to something you’d see in a high school science lab. Think Bunsen burner and glass flasks to produce a cup of coffee that’s much stronger in flavour and has a much higher caffeine content that espresso. I’m not sure if Veneziano actually makes siphon coffees at their West End store, but you can certainly get the equipment there if you’re interested.

So that about wraps it up. I’m pretty sure festival numbers were up on last year and I really don’t think you’d be able to squeeze many more in, so I’ll be interested to see what the organizers come up with next time.

The Coffee and Chocolate Affair was a fantastic way to spend a warm winter Sunday. When they hold it again I think I’ll book a table at one of the restaurants at Portside and include a lazy lunch, as even though there’s quite a bit of variety it’s still hard to find enough things to do and see to justify spending an entire day at Portside. Hope you were there.

2009 Coffee and Chocolate Affair

Sunday, 12 July 2009
Portside Wharf
Hamilton map

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