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The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

 Where Did Chocolate Originate?

When many people think of the beginnings of chocolate, they imagine European chocolatiers with big white hats, lovingly stirring chocolate in a small charming cobblestone village. While Switzerland, France and Belgium are part of chocolate’s history; the origins of chocolate go back much further to Mesoamerica -where cacao was an integral part of not only cultural and spiritual practices but of the economy as a whole.

The first mention of cacao was in the Florentine Codex written by Spanish friar Bernardino Sahagún in 16th century. The Codex, also known as Historia General, is an ethnographic chronicle detailing the daily lives and practices of Mesoamerican society. Some historians refer to Friar Sahagún as one of the world’s first anthropologists. Thanks to his detailed accounts, we know exactly how chocolate was consumed.

According to the Aztec and Mayan, cacao was a sacred gift from the gods and was treated with the upmost reverence. There were parades honoring the god of cacao, which included drinking cacao as part of ceremonial practices. Even the word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl” which translates to “bitter drink.”

How Was it Consumed?

This bitter drink consisted of pure cacao and an array of spices mixed with water. So how did chocolate transform from this watery, bitter drink to the chocolate we know today?

It is said that the Spanish did not think the native Mayan spices would be marketable in Europe. So they decided to remove them and add sweeteners, and thickening agents like milk. The result is the European sipping chocolate and bars we are familiar with today.

What to Order for the Mayan Experience?

If you are interested in tasting an authentic drinking chocolate, come in to the shop and order a Mayan Tradition with water or a 100% cacao with water...if you dare. For those looking for more of a sweet treat, we have an array of chocolate drinks, and even the European-style sipping chocolates.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the origins of chocolate, we host AirBnb experiences that dive into chocolate’s rich history as well as the production of cacao and it's flavor profiles. Click here to find out more.

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

 
Imagine several bottles of wine, a spread of chocolates, and a group of friends gathered around a kitchen or dining table, all ready to enjoy a cozy evening together.
 
We’ve hosted several events just like this, where one of our chocolate-makers designs an adventure for the palate and guides a tasting in the home. The good news is that you can design your own, with a little wine knowledge and a little help from us here at ChocoVivo.

 

Step 1: The Wine List:

We recommend choosing your wines first because there can be such huge variation in the palates of different wines. Each chocolate could potentially pair with hundreds of wines of different varietals that happen to share a similar flavor note, but each wine may only have one or two chocolate mates.

 

We have paired chocolate with wines of all types before, but reds usually pair with chocolate the best, followed by whites then sparkling wines. Consider dessert wines, fortified wines, and other unique wines for a more interesting experience. Just keep in mind when choosing wines that chocolate is a big bold flavor, and it can easily overwhelm a very delicate wine.

 

Step 2: The Pairing

 This is where these events can become a little confusing, because it’s difficult to know how to pair wines without an in-depth knowledge of wine tasting. If you have trouble, feel free to stop by our store for a few pointers, and if you’ve decided the process is not for you, you can hand off the pairing to us for a small fee.

 Generally, if you have not yet tasted the wine, you can pull a description of the wine off of the winery’s website or from a review of the wine. Here’s a sample description for a wine we paired recently:
Lafage; Cotes du Roussillon Villages; South France; Grenache & Syrah; 2014
Lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was aged mostly in concrete tanks.

 

We paired this with our Shangri-La chocolate, which is a 55% dark chocolate with goji berries and black sesame. The fruity notes of the Lafage pair well with the sweetness of goji berries, and those olive notes add saltiness that pairs well with the nuttiness of black sesame.

Use your intuition- if two flavors sound good together, go ahead and pair them.

 

Step 3: The Style

Will your guests move at their own pace while chocolates and wine glasses are set out around the room, or will you lead a group and describe the pairings as you go? This depends on the number of people involved and the style of gathering you’re holding. For large groups at a party, a tasting room, with a more relaxed move-at-your-own-pace atmosphere, may work better than trying to pour tastings and pass out chocolates.With a more intimate group, pouring each tasting can be a moment when you can chat with each of your guests or guests can talk amongst themselves. Generally, a guided tasting is more formal because it requires that your guests are attentive and quiet as you describe the pairings.

Step 3: The Day Of Prep

On the day of, you’ll want to work out how you’re laying out or passing out the chocolate.
You can order our tasting pieces, which are cut into perfect squares, one week in advance, or you can come in and grab a few bars to break up at home. If you decide to buy bars, assume each bar is enough chocolate for about eight good-sized pieces. You’ll want to break up the bars in advance; we suggest setting the pieces on plates in your fridge and taking them out about ten minutes before the tasting.
A tasting of wine is usually about an ounce, so a tasting flight of five is equivalent to drinking one moderately sized glass of wine. To learn how to eyeball that amount, take a wine glass and pour in two tablespoons of water. Because only two or three sips are needed to taste the wine, a bottle of wine is enough for about twenty tastings. Much of the time, guests will want to go back and have a glass of their favorite wine, so make sure to get an extra bottle (or two!) of each pairing wine just for that purpose.
Once you’ve set up your tasting area, make sure you have your wines ready at the correct temperature and enough plates and glasses to serve all your guests before they arrive.

The Tasting:

When you start the tasting, feel free to explain why you’ve paired each chocolate with each wine, tell people to keep in mind the major pairing notes, or let people try the pairings and guess why they were paired. This part is entirely up to you!
Our only recommendation here is that your guests take a sip of their wine and then taste the paired chocolate. Flavor is only detected in liquid, which is why our mouths have saliva. You can’t taste dry flavors in a dry mouth, so a sip of wine before tasting the chocolate helps you taste more of the flavors in the chocolate.
You also may want to warn guests that trying wines with a chocolate that they’re not paired with can result in some combinations that make the wine and chocolate seem really metallic, sharp or otherwise unappetizing.

Share with Us:

You now have all of the information to get started on your home tasting! Let us know how it goes by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook. 

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

Chocolate + Coffee : Health Food?

  

Neither chocolate nor coffee is considered particularly healthy, but many recent studies support that both coffee and chocolate can actually be very beneficial to your health. Why has scientific opinion changed on these common treats?   

Drinking your coffee with milk and sugar turns coffee from a calorie-free antioxidant drink to a sugar-filled sweet treat. Because of this, the benefits of coffee have been obscured for years! In fact, many scientists now say that drinking black coffee is very good for you- and is perhaps the best way to get all the health benefits of coffee.   Black coffee (up to two cups a day) has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects in the human body. Coffee drinking is even linked to lower mortality, obesity, and depression rates, while other promising research suggests that coffee consumption can even postpone the onset of neurodegenerative disorders like MS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

 

 

Coffee is good for you, but chocolate is truly a superfood. Chocolate’s fatty acids modify LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and its many polyphenols increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol when consumed regularly, and the benefits increase as chocolate gets darker. Regular dark chocolate consumption also results in lowered blood pressure, leading to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Pure cacao is also one of the strongest antioxidants in the world, ahead of acai and blueberries, and is high in omega-6 fatty acids, like those found in olive oil. Chocolate is also a huge mood booster, and regular dark chocolate eaters even have lower rates of depression than the general public!

Chocolate also gives many of the known benefits of coffee because it contains trace mounts of caffeine as well as larger amounts of theobromine, a byproduct of caffeine metabolism. So, when you break off a piece of your favorite dark chocolate, you’re getting all of the antioxidant and heart-protective power of chocolate along with some of the alertness and anti-carcinogenic powers of caffeine. 

 

  

At Chocovivo, we only serve dark chocolate with no added binding agents- which means our chocolate is purer and better for your body.  And, because we serve both chocolate and coffee, you can get the health benefits, mood boost, and increased alertness of coffee and chocolate all in one place!

 

Coffee Mocktails featuring Cacao Bitters - House Roots Coffee preview event

Coffee Mocktails featuring Cacao Bitters - House Roots Coffee preview event

Coffee and Chocolate have a lot in common and when specialty coffee shop House Roots Coffee in the San Fernando Valley heard about our Cacao Bitters they thought it would work perfectly with the coffee and tea mocktail program that they were working on (read about House Roots' mocktails in Food & Wine).

House Roots Coffee Cocktail Menu - Preview Night


They started working with our chocolate bitters and at a recent preview event, that coincided with Valentines Day, they did an evening of mocktails paired with a trio of our chocolates. 75% Cacao (the evening’s favorite), Cherries + Almonds + Black Peppercorns (paired best with the Old Fashioned), and Coffee and Vanilla (of course! it’s a coffee shop).

 

Blood Orange Espresso Old Fashioned


In the Blood Orange Espresso Old Fashioned, the espresso (replacing the bourbon in the traditional Old Fashioned) really gives the drink a complex flavor profile and the addition of the Cacao Bitters along with the blood orange juice accentuate that. Our Cherries Almonds Black Peppercorns bar really paired well with this delicious drink.

 

Blood Orange Tea Manhattan


The Blood Orange Tea Manhattan is made with a fruity caffeine free tea and the addition of our Cacao Bitters gave the drink a nice subtle chocolate tone. Very refreshing and sure to be a favorite on the upcoming menu.

House Roots Cocktail Preview Event

The evening was very well received. All who attended had an enjoyable time and several commented that they had a new appreciation for pure, minimally processed, and minimal ingredient chocolates.

These drinks will be part of the specialty evening drinks menu that they are going to introduce later this month. If you are in The Valley and looking for a great cup of coffee or an espresso any time of day, or a special chocolate inspired mocktail later in the day, please be sure to check out the folks at House Roots. We look forward to doing more with them in the future.

House Roots Coffee
16155 San Fernando Mission Blvd
Granada Hills, CA 91344

Recipe: Blood Orange Tea Manhattan - courtesy of House Roots Coffee

2 parts blood orange tea, chilled
2 parts blood orange juice, with pulp
(If blood orange iced tea or juice isn't available, use your favorite fruity tea and juice)
1 part lemonade
Cacao Bitters to taste (about 2-3 drops to full eye dropper per cup)
Rim a chilled glass with Chocolate Dust
Optional: garnish with mint

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour into a chilled glass.

Click Here to get your Cacao Bitters
and Here to get Chocolate Dust

 

Stay tuned for more information about how Chocolate and Coffee have so many parallels, working so well together. Sign up for our newsletter below (lower right on this page).  

How to cacao in Chile, an adventure with ChocoVivo: Part 1

How to cacao in Chile, an adventure with ChocoVivo: Part 1

Hi everyone and welcome to my Chilean travel series! My name is Alexandra, and I am ChocoVivo’s Chocolate Ambassador. I’m so excited to share my trip, and pass along some tips in case you plan to travel soon or just want to add a little Chilean spice to your life! I highly recommend Chile to anyone who craves untouched nature and has an appreciation for the medicinal, nourishing qualities of fresh local vegetation…. That’s all of us, right?

 This whole idea began when one of my closest friends invited me to his brother’s wedding in Santiago. As someone who NEVER passes up an opportunity to experience a foreign culture with locals, I jumped at the chance! Armed with a suitcase full of ChocoVivo to get me through it, I took off on my two-week adventure.

 

Itinerary:

 As you can see, Chile may be narrow, but it is crazy long. Stretching north to south 2,647 miles, trying to see everything in two weeks is like trying to see all of the United States. So it’s best to focus on a few places!   

 

Originally we had planned to go to Torres del Paine. However, due to the commitments we had in Santiago, we decided to split our trip into four regions: Santiago/ Vineyards, Lake District, Valparaiso.

 

Santiago:

After 15 hours of travel to Santiago we arrived exhausted! The first thing I noticed about Chile was the lack of coffee culture. It seemed cafés serving espresso-style drinks were limited to tourist areas. Coffee, like cacao only grows between the tropics…. far away from Santiago. So instead of hunting down my americano, I decided to go cold turkey off coffee, and give into the Chilean tradition of herbal teas. 

To supplement my energy slump, I used ChocoVivo Cacao nibs mixed into hotel breakfasts. Throwing them into oats with fresh berries was the best way to start a long, busy day.

 

In season strawberries, the perfect complement to cacao

 

                   View from the top of the hill Santa Lucia overlooking Santiago

 

 

 Shopping at Fundación Artesanías de Chile

 

A beautifully curated selection of home goods, clothing, and pottery Fundación Artesanias is a must see! With locations throughout Chile, all proceeds go directly to the artisans. 

 

Fresh in season produce at every corner 

 

Lucuma Ice Cream Bar

Lucuma is a fruit that grows in northern Chile, in the Andean valley near Peru. It is a popular ice cream flavor, usually paired with chocolate or “manjar”, the Chilean name for dulce de leche. The taste of lucuma is very sweet, almost like caramel or maple syrup. 

 

For centuries lucuma has been used as a medicinal superfood by the indigenous people of northern Chile and Peru. In its raw form, it has many health benefits including high amounts of beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and protein. The oil of lucuma can also be used to treat skin conditions and is excellent for hair! 

  

 Colorful Streets of bohemian barrio Bellavista

 

Enjoying a pisco sour and incredible ceviche at Santa Colonia 

One of the most hotly debated topics in Chile is who created the pisco sour. Peruvians also claim this delicious drink and both countries have their own variation. For those unfamiliar with pisco, it is a brandy distilled from grapes. Below is a recipe for the Chilean version made with ChocoVivo Cacao Bitters. Usually this recipe is made with simple syrup, however I modified it to use honey after having a honey variation in southern Chile. 

 

 ChocoVivo Pisco Sour Recipe

Yields: 1 

Ingredients: 

  • 2.5 ounces pisco*
  • 1 egg white 
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey 
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ChocoVivo Cacao Bitters 

Preparation: 

Mix pisco, egg white, honey, and lemon in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into glass. Top with a few drops of ChocoVivo Cacao Bitters. 

* Chilean pisco. If using Peruvian pisco, which is stronger change lemon ratio accordingly 

Where to go in Santiago: 

STAY:

Hotel Paris Londres

London 54, Santiago Chile  

 Luciano K Hotel

Merced 84, Santiago  

SEE:

Parque Forrestal

Cerro Santa Lucia 

Barrio Lastarria

Barrio Bellavista 

Fundación Artesanía de Chile

Museo Chileno Precolombino

EAT: 

Bocanarriz Wine Bar

José Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile

Emporia La Rosa Ice Cream

José Victorino Lastarria 71, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile 

Sarita Colonia 

Loreto 40 | Recoleta, Santiago 8420499, Chile

 

What to Pack:

December is the height of summer in Chile, and we arrived during a record heat wave. Then on our last day it was raining and cold. If you’re staying in Santiago during the summer expect temperatures ranging from the low 50s to high 90s and possible rain.

  • Light layers for chilly nights or rain
  • Walking shoes
  • Dresses or Shorts 
  • Sunscreen!!

Follow along for the next part of the series, as we pair ChocoVivo bars with Chilean wine!