A degree from the prestigious Wharton University and a career as a CPA did not turn out to be the career direction that Patricia Tsai wanted to take.
A person who naturally wants to go below the surface to explore reasons and background, she became intrigued with chocolate. “I love chocolate, as most people do, but I wanted to know more about it, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to know about its rich history.”
“Over 2,000 years ago, the Aztecs and Mayans were using chocolate as currency, for healing, in rituals, and, of course, as food. It was shocking to see how, as chocolate had evolved to what is a common candy today, it had lost so much of its story. How did this ancient civilization in Latin America figure out how to take a fruit, the coffee bean, and work with it to reveal its complex smoky character?”
After years of research, the tipping point came as a result of a visit to a cacao plantation in Mexico. Back in the US, Patricia began to correspond with the farmer. “He became my mentor, and even a father figure to me. I had so many questions, and in many ways, meeting this cacao farmer and learning from him was the real start of my chocolate journey. His plantation is still the source of all the cacao used for ChocoVivo.”
A critical piece of what Patricia learned was about the processing of the cacao beans. The Mayans and Aztecs ground their chocolate with a tool similar to a mortar and pestle called a mano and metate. “We use that same stone-ground method to make ChocoVivo. It’s not over processed, so the chocolate is not refined through rollers, conched or tempered. We only make dark chocolate. There’s no milk powder, soy lecithin or additional cacao butter. The ingredients are all whole and natural, from the whole cacao nibs to whole spices.”
As part of Patricia’s desire to educate and inspire people about the potential of truly special chocolate, ChocoVivo has created a chocolate tasting bar within her manufacturing space. “We invite people in to learn, to experience, and to purchase ChocoVivo products to take home.”
The direct relationship with her grower enables Patricia to offer a bean-to bar chocolate, that and her methods are the key distinguishing factors in her business. “I would not have this business without that connection with the source of the cacao I use.”