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Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Society offers classes aimed at making us all chocolate experts

Mar 12, 2018 03:55PM ● Published by Lori Gillespie

The Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Society offers free monthly classes to learn more about Utah’s coffee and chocolate culture. (Lori Gillespie/City Journals)

Chocolate. There are not many people who don’t love chocolate. And once you have tried some high-quality artisan chocolate, there is no turning back to mass-produced candy bars. 

Last summer, my son asked to go to a chocolate tasting event for teens at the Anderson Foothill Library. At the event, which was filled beyond capacity, the kids tasted a dozen different chocolates from artisan chocolate makers, many of them Utah based. 

Liz Struthwolf, owner of the Moka Gourmet Coffee and Chocolate shop, located in Marmalade Library, taught the class. She instructed the kids on how to taste the chocolate and explained why artisan chocolate is so different from what we buy commercially. The kids rated their favorites, asked questions, and everyone left a little bit more in love with chocolate than they were before the class. 

Just recently I took one of Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Society’s free adult classes. The presentation had two speakers, one chocolate maker and one toffee maker. We sampled the chocolate and the toffee, asked questions, and left with a new appreciation for chocolate. It was then that I knew I needed to spend some more time with Liz to find out more about the phenomenon that was the Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Society. I asked Liz how the society started.

“I went on vacation to Las Vegas, and had the most amazing coffee, and my server suggested I learn more,” said Struthwolf. She eventually went to a barista school in Los Angeles and while there she met the marketing director of Ghirardelli Chocolate who was also taking the class. 

“She told me that since I was from Salt Lake and I was studying coffee I should also look into chocolate because Salt Lake has some of the best chocolate makers in the world. She said she wanted to someday come to Salt Lake and work with those chocolate makers. I was floored. I had no idea that Salt Lake was a mecca for chocolate.” 

Struthwolf came home and enrolled in Caputo’s Intro to Fine Chocolate Class. This led her to take some classes at the Culinary Institute of America to study chocolate.  

“I decided to start at the top, with the experts, so each of the places I went to I was working with the best baristas and the best chocolate makers and chocolate chefs,” added Struthwolf. It was after that adventure she decided she wanted to invest in a coffee/chocolate shop. When she joined the Utah Chocolate Society she learned even more about chocolate and the community and she knew she had found her place. 

“I think that a lot of people think they don’t like artisan chocolate because they get used to the chocolate you can buy anywhere and it’s overly sweet. They think that artisan chocolate is just bitter. But once they try the really good chocolate, they discover that many of them are still sweet, they really come around,” said Struthwolf.

When the Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Society started their classes for the public, they envisioned small classes – around 30 people, but soon 150 people were showing up. Since then they’ve had full houses at every event. Now classes are full within two hours of registration opening up.  

“Last August, we decided to do a Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate Festival at the library. We invited 17 vendors. We had 700 people respond that they would come to our two-hour event on a weeknight.  We had 2,300 people actually show up. That was a huge eye-opener that our little project had become something really big. We are starting to plan for this summer and we are not sure what that will look like yet,” added Struthwolf.

When I asked Liz why she thinks Utah has a large group of chocolate makers, she said it was because of the culture. 

“Salt Lake is the perfect place for chocolate makers because both coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers love chocolate. In the United States, San Francisco has a pocket of chocolate makers, as does New York, and then Salt Lake has a group. All of the Utah chocolate makers are incredibly supportive of each other.”

To find out more about the Marmalade Coffee and Chocolate events, visit their website at http://www.mokaslc.com/marmalade-coffee-and-chocolate.html

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