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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).