ChocXO Bean to Bar Tour


What better way than to spend Valentines Day learning about chocolate? ChocXO held two bean to bar tours showing us the chocolate making process in their Richmond facility on February 14th, 2015.

The Richmond location has only been open for a few months but ChocXO has been existance for 30 years. You may not know this but they make and distribute chocolate to buffets in Las Vegas e.g. Bellagio, cruise ships and other places around the world! They are also the only company in North America that makes the chocolate they serve.

In the back, there is an educational wall area where guests can learn about ChocXO's bean to bar story through the process of growing, fermenting, drying and processing cocoa beans.

Windows also give a peek to what the chocolatiers are doing in the kitchen.

And in the corner, there's a chocolate tasting station where you can take shots of liquid chocolate! Mmmm!

The chocolatiers lead us through the facility, telling us the story of ChocXO chocolate.

Chocolate starts as fruits that grow on trees. Flowers grow all over the branches and are pollinated by flies, which then grow into a cocoa pod is very big like a football and one pod will contain about 24 cocoa seeds. The above pod is a dried one, it's much bigger ordinarily!

The pods are then are cracked and fermented for flavour development; the covering over the individual beans actually tastes very sweet like a mango. After fermentation, they are dried on racks, then sent to ChocXO in burlap sacks.

ChocXO imports its own beans, from mainly Central and South America, and can process about 25 kilograms of beans a day in this facility in Richmond. Because batches are smaller, they can afford to experiment on recipes. Successes can then be sent to their large scale processing plant in Irvine, California.

ChocXO specializes in producing high quality, single origin chocolates. Single origin chocolates are made from cocoa beans from a single farm, producer, cooperative, or small region unlike ordinary chocolate bars that may have been made from a mixture of beans that come from all over the place. The result is a refined chocolate, the best you can ever get. The 80% chocolate in the photo above was made from a rare cocoa bean that was thought to be extinct! It tasted amazing.

In the kitchen, cocoa beans are roasted first. Mmmm smells so good!

Crushed and shells sucked out using the winnower.

Then pulverized, using the grinder,

and the paste refined in the refiner.

The process turning cocoa beans to chocolate is all very loud!

Further in there were a few more elaborate equipment that help make different types of chocolate and truffles.

 Mmm a chocolate melter.

In the olden days, they used a conche to melt chocolate.

One shot depositor fills the mold quickly.

 These are put into the fridge for about 20 mins.

And voila! Peanut butter cups! YUMMY!

 We got to taste some other chocolate made in the kitchen. So delicious!

After the tour, I tried ChocXO's dark chocolate mocha. It was very rich, almost like hot chocolate! It was a lovely end to event!

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