Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

This Culver City Chocolate Apothecary Is Taking Cacao To The Next Level

Chocovivo, an artisanal “chocolate apothecary” located on an unassuming stretch of Washington Boulevard, isn’t trendy in the way that patrons of other L.A. chocolate shops would expect. Instead of favoring sleek minimalism (like Milla Chocolate’s chocolate gallery in the Arts District) or refined pomp¬†(like the iconic Edelweiss Chocolate boutique in Beverly Hills), the shop handcrafts small batches of dark chocolate using traditional stone-grinding methods dating back over 2000 years.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

The eco-chic venue was founded in 2011 by Patricia Tsai, a Wharton-grad who envisioned the shop as a place to offer dark-chocolate products produced from the brand’s own plantation and roaster in Tabasco, Mexico– a bean-to-bar model that emphasizes accountability, freshness, and the most potent, antioxidant-laden cacao one is apt to find anywhere in Los Angeles (and possibly the United States). Lining the shop’s walls are a host of paleo-approved, coconut sugar sweetened chocolate bars, ranging in flavor from “Almond + Sea Salt” to “Cherry Almond + Black Peppercorn” and “Shangri-La” (made with goji berries and black sesame). Chocovivo also offers delicious, high-nutrient curiosities like Vanilla Coconut Candied Cacao Beans, hazelnut chocolate “mylk”, and a new line of squeezable cacao butters (think of them as superfood alternatives to Nutella).

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Possibly the most unique aspect of Chocovivo, however, is that the brand only makes dark chocolate– pure bean formulations produced without any milk powder, soy lecithin, or additional cacao butter. On a recent visit to the shop, GC munched on roasted cacao beans while watching Tsai perform her famous three-step process for making drinking chocolate (with a choice between “sipping”, “hot”, “cold”, or “frozen” chocolate), which blends various nutmilks with her signature cacao.

Brave chocoholics will opt for the 100% cacao drinking chocolate– a slightly bitter twist on the classic hot drink–, which provides so much clean energy and antioxidants that, according to Tsai, “high-performing athletes will drink it during workouts”. For mere mortals just looking to get their fix, Chocovivo also has plenty of other gift-able, less intense chocolate items, including Chocolate “Dust”, Salted Pecan Chocolate Butter sold in beautiful glass jars, and homemade Chocolate Bitters. It’s a great place to stop for a snack en route to the beach in Venice– and it’s well worth the trip, even if you aren’t.

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Chocovivo is located at 12469 W. Washington Blvd in Los Angeles. For an extended look at the company’s chocolate-blending ethos, watch Patricia Tsai give a talk at TEDxSeeds2011,¬†here.

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