Imagine the ancient Aztecs and Mayans grinding raw cacao beans with mortar and stone, brewing a bitter drink under the lush green canopies of the jungle.
Now imagine Patricia Tsai, founder of ChocoVivo, grinding cacao beans with lava stone in Culver City, same as those guys 2,000 years ago, and you can begin to understand the integrity of this chocolatier.
Never have I tasted such pure chocolate, almost completely unrelated to the over processed Hershey’s we ate as kids. It’s like an entirely different animal, a unicorn even, using only 100% whole bean chocolate and whole ingredients.
Cacao is a medicinal superfood, an antioxidant that helps lower blood pressure, early stages of Alzheimer’s, and stimulates the brain.
Patricia inherited a passion for wellness through her mother, an Asian immigrant, who cooked wholesome food from scratch every day in the rural town of Oklahoma where they lived. Her father, also an immigrant, was much more enthralled by “advanced” Western medicine than her mother, who made Patricia homemade chicken broth with goji berries when she fell ill. This impression stayed with Patricia throughout her life and career; she carries her mother’s belief in the healing power of whole clean foods in her pocket at all times.
The drinks at ChocoVivo are unreal, a blend of chocolate, your choice of milk, and additional goodies such as coffee, vanilla, or cinnamon.
A nod to the ancients once again, chocolate was a valuable and sacred drink. In fact, Mayans used cacao beans as commerce, the demand for the bean brought about a huge network of trade routes throughout the region. Used in marriage and religious ceremonies, cacao was called “the food of the gods.” I think we may still consider it so.
Patricia sources all of her cacao beans from a small farm in Tabasco, Mexico, thoughtfully selected based on their complete transparency. She describes the plantation as a place you need to go to fully understand the origin of chocolate, an Avatar landscape with bizarre martian orange pods hanging low off the trees. She’s hustled to find Vicente, the owner of the plantation, who happened to sit next to her in a café while she was in Mexico, studying the art of ancient chocolate-making and hoping to find her source. Voila, ChocoVivo was born.
Patricia refuses to make a European style chocolate, smooth and creamy, but full of whack ingredients like soy lecithin: “The American market is past this type of chocolate. We’re ready for a chocolate whole and pure.”
Patricia constantly seeks how to preserve the integrity of chocolate, with simple, whole ingredients. Chocolate used to be food. Real food. And when food is processed it’s harmful to the body. Food should be nurturing and healing, just like mama said.
ChocoVivo in Culver City is your one stop shop for extinguishing those sweet sugar tooth blues with healthy chocolate bars, butters, and like I said before, drinks. Also a little birdy told me, they will soon release a cacao apothecary line with body oils, cacao rose scented masks, and crushed cacao shell scrubs (all edible too of course).
The two philosophies of ChocoVivo:
Bitter is good for you
Simple is better
Cheers to that!