There are more food tours in London than there are candy bars in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. However, taking a Chocolate Ecstasy Tours should be high up on the to-do list of any chocoholic. These London tours are held in Mayfair, Chelsea, and Notting Hill, and you’re tempted by them all. You weigh up the options and decide to book the Sunday Chocolate and Coffee Tour of Notting Hill. You love a cup of Joe just as much as you like chocolate, so it seems like the obvious choice.
Notting Hill is famous for its summer carnival, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything else to offer. Locals are well aware of the top-notch chocolate factory and incredible artisan coffee houses that can be found on and off the beaten track. You and your friends gather amongst the lively stalls of Portobello Market to meet your tour host, Jennifer. She pours you an aromatic cup of small batch coffee that she brought from Golborne Deli, one of the best coffee houses on Golborne Road.
You’re glad you remembered to eat a light breakfast, because you and your buddies are in for a culinary treat. The first place Jennifer first takes you to is Talkhouse Coffee, to try their award-winning java. You sip on a delicious Nueva Llusta coffee from Bolivia, roasted by James Gourmet Coffee and then compare this to a Brazilian brew by Square Mile Coffee Roasters that boasts delightful fruity notes. Meanwhile, Jennifer teaches you about the tree-to-bean journey behind your drink. You sink your teeth into an indulgent chocolate brownie as you listen.
Next, your tour takes in a few Notting Hill cultural landmarks including the front door from the Brit film named for the neighborhood. You grab a quick photo before arriving at Akesson’s, a famous organic chocolatier. Akesson’s sources its cacao from plantations in Madagascar, Indonesia, and Brazil and are known for their unique pepper and spice flavourings. Jennifer explains how the Criollo, Trinitario, and Forastero beans can result in such varied chocolate textures and flavours. As you bite into Akesson’s Trinitario cocoa bar your eyes widen, you look to your friends, and laugh. You discuss the pink pepper kick with Jennifer and you all agree it’s a most unusual and intriguing taste.
Next, you stop at luxury chocolatier Alexeeva & Jones. The variety of truffles, pralines, and ganache staring back at you from the glass counter is as pleasing as it is astonishing. You and your gang excitedly create your own bespoke box of chocolates. You plump for a decadent Belgian range and steal a champagne-filled truffle from the assistant before you leave.
When the tour arrives at Melt, on Ledbury Road, you meet expert chocolatier, Anne-Marie. She welcomes you into this miniature chocolate factory with a big smile. Anne-Marie talks you through the complex conching process and lets you sample various chocolates that haven’t been tempered properly. Your mind is just as full of chocolate wisdom as your belly is full of chocolate. But you need to leave room for the final stop, Artisan du Chocolat, arguably, the best couture chocolate factory in London. Sitting at the “chocolate bar” tables, you have one last decision to make. Will you go for their famous salted caramel chocolate or brave the tobacco chocolate? Whichever one you decide to try, the colourful history lessons and abundance of tastings leave you feeling like a full, but happy Oompa Loompa.