The basics. The idea behind ChocoVivo has always been to make entirely bean-to-bar chocolate. I've spent the past five years working towards this goal of selling at Farmer's Markets, opening a store on Abbot Kinney, and then opening Los Angeles' first bean to bar chocolate factory. All I need now to be a complete factory is one machine! With your support, I can complete this life-long journey.
ChocoVivo chocolate. ChocoVivo chocolate is special, because of the simple ingredients and the stone grinding, which is how the Mayans and Aztecs made chocolate over 2000 years ago, grinding chocolate with a tool similar to a mortar and pestle called a "metate y mano".
It’s not over-processed -- it is not refined like most products, we never conch or temper (micro-refine or intensely heat). We only make dark chocolate, and don't work with milk powder, soy lecithin or add cacao butter. From using only whole cacao nibs to whole spices (never powders or extracts), they are as Mother Nature intended our food to be. We eat whole fruits and vegetables – why not whole bean chocolate?
So what's the problem? Right now my little chocolate factory grinds away but I have to start with the cracked beans from my grower. These "nibs" are the broken beans that result when the husk is removed. This de-shelling of cacao beans is a slow and tedious process by hand. However there's a Winnower which is a machine that can do it for me! The best machine is invented by a man in Brooklyn and is called a Vortex Winnower that uses cool technology to separate nibs from husks using "vortex tubes". And the best part is that this beautiful piece of machinery was specifically designed to be a showpiece, educating customers so that they can fully understand the process.
*The Vortex Winnower. For all you nerds out there here is the technical way it works (I just like the gentle handling of the beans and how amazing it is to watch -- not to mention that it is so energy efficient and does not make a lot of noise). Roasted beans pass through a two stage cracking mill. The first stage has interlocking rollers that crack them into small pieces while producing little dust. The second rollers have parallel serrated knives which cut odd shaped nibs. Both stages of rollers are machined from hardened Stainless Steel. Small stones typical of "raw" beans are pulverized without damaging anything.
The cracked beans are then sucked into "Willy Wonka factory" like tubes into the Vortex cyclones made of laboratory grade glass. The nibs and husks swirl around suspended in a stream of air -- this is so neat to see! Both the nibs and husks travel at the same speed as the airflow, but the mass of the nibs vs. husks are different, so is their kinetic energy and centrifugal forces differentiate between the nibs and husks. Now here is the amazing part: the high and low kinetic energy particles that are swirling around, suspended, are denser than the air so they move outward to the edge of the Vortex tubes and fall along the wall down into the reservoirs -- nibs into one 5 gallon reservoir and husks into another. All dust particles larger than 5 microns (millions of an inch) are also collected. This is super cool!
If I meet my goal, I have no doubt in my ability to follow through with this project. ChocoVivo has been a risk from the beginning, but hard work, passion and dedication have brought me so far already. Integrating the Winnower into our process has always been the goal, so it will be an adjustment in our system, but a very welcome one that I am confident I could fully and seamlessly incorporate. With your help, I could finally complete the dream of ChocoVivo.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me! Or just stop into the shop - I'm always here.
A special bar of chocolate made from our 2013 limited variety Estate Reserve Beans from our plantation in Tabasco, MX. These Estate Reserve beans are the first of the crop in 2013 and are a varietal from the plantation's white Criollo beans.
Two bars of chocolate made with the Estate Reserve Beans and another bar of chocolate made from a batch of beans called Cacao Almendra Rubia. These Nibs are not white when cut in half which is the predominate color of white criollo beans, but have a pinkish color which deliver a delicate fruitty taste.
All of the above and two halves of a dried empty cacao pod (shell). The shell has been cut in half, cleaned and dried. This half shell is beautiful and can be used for all sorts of creative or decorative purposes (candles, soap dish, incense holder, succulents...).
All the above and be a Guest of Honor. Our shop will be transformed to host a farm-to-table using ingredients in season. Enjoy a truly memorable night. The menu will feature all-in-season ingredients using chocolate in every course - sweet and savory. This will be a one-of-a-kind sit down dinner with new friends. Must be willing to travel to ChocoVivo at your own cost. Date to be announced. If you can't make it Los Angeles, we will put together a one-of-a-kind custom gift package for you and another person you designate and ship it to you.
All the above and "Be an Oompa Loompa for a day" at the ChocoVivo chocolate factory as we work together to stone grind and customize your own batch of chocolate. Must be willing to travel to Los Angeles at your own cost. If you can't make it Los Angeles, we will put together a one-of-a-kind custom gift package for you and two other people you designate and ship it to you.
Exclusive Private Party! Enjoy a private party at our shop for 20 of your friends. The shop will be transformed to create a beautiful and customized event. We will work together on the menu from a chocolate tasting to chocolate pairings. The experience will also include a special session to stone-grind your own custom made batch of chocolate that will be enjoyed and featured at your private event. The date will be coordinated with you. If you can't come to Los Angeles, I will come to your location and give a presentation like I've done for Google and the Ted Conference covering topics from the True History of Chocolate, the chocolate industry, and a formal chocolate tasting.
We will send you all the above and invite you to the plantation to see where my journey started. Stay in the hacienda on the plantation. The plantation is a tropical rain forest where you will be transported to a place where it is visually stunning. We are located in the Yucatan Pennisula where it is one of the original areas where cacao was first cultivated. Personally meet my grower and come with us to harvest cacao pods, break them open, and ferment them. Enjoy a traditional meal made with indigineous foods of the area. Tour and see how traditional chocolate is made with a metate and mano. Pledge amount includes food, hacienda accommodations, and ground transportation. (Air tickets and optional hotel accomodations not included). The date will be coordinated with you.