ChocXO has brought a unique new experience to the palates of coffee and chocolate lovers throughout Orange County. Owner Richard Foley realized the close connection one had with the other; they both come from the same region of the globe, they both are beans and they both are prepared in similar ways and roasted to create the flavors we know so well. So much, in fact, that he sold his business, Qzina Specialty Foods, the top importer of chocolates in North America, to realize his dream of opening his own chocolate factory.
ChocXO Bean to Bar Chocolatier started with Orange County’s only chocolate factory in Irvine and has now added two retail locations in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest. In addition, they have a cafe and factory in Richmond, B.C., Canada, so they are truly international in scope. The Costa Mesa location is spacious, with the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the air. A nice display of chocolate bars, muffins and other delectables entices the taste buds.
What is really different with ChocXO however are five single origin coffees and four single origin liquid chocolates displayed behind the barista’s counter. This is where the magic happens and what sets ChocXO apart from any other chocolate or coffee purveyors around. All the coffee beans are roasted at the Lake Forest location. The five single origin espresso varieties currently available are:
• Costa Rica Carrizal (Tarrazu)
• Kenya Gondo (Murang’a County)
• Nicaragua Las Brumas (Nueva Segovia)
• Papua New Guinea Mile High (Eastern Highlands)
• Colombia Valle Del Cauca (Cauca Region)
The four single origin liquid chocolates are:
• 70% Yaguachi (Ecuador)
• 72% Camino Verde (Ecuador)
• 75% Guantupí (Ecuador)
• 80% Fortunato No. 4 (Peru)
Virtually all the coffee houses around have one or two blends and usually not more than one single origin coffee, so right there ChocXO allows coffee lovers to enjoy several different cups of espresso from very specific regions. That alone would be enough reason for a coffee fan to come to ChocXO, except that as they say on TV, “But wait! There’s more……”. ChocXO’s baristas are also experts in the chocolates they carry and will suggest specialty drinks like mochas, cappucinos and lattés using the various liquid chocolates.
One example was the Papua New Guinea single origin Mile High. By itself, it was tart and puckery. As an espresso it was a great example of a delicious, but extremely strong coffee. Griffin, the barista, suggested trying a cup of it with one of their ganaches, essentially a blend of chocolate and cream. Just a little of the white chocolate ganache took away the tartness and yielded an exceptionally delicious drink.
The Nicaraguan Las Brumas was delicious all by itself as an espresso, with no sweetening needed. There was just enough tartness to let you know this is an exceptional coffee. Its fruitiness worked well to temper the flavor and make this espresso very delicious. As a side note, none of the coffees had that ‘burnt’ aroma and taste that many complain about at one of the big coffee places. These coffee beans are roasted to perfection.
The secret to making a delicious coffee drink is knowing what to pair and at ChocXO they have it down to a science. Griffin suggested a Café Mocha made with the Kenya Gondo single origin beans. When made into the mocha with the white chocolate ganache, the drink was extremely smooth and just sweet enough to go down easily. This combination has to be one of the best mochas around.
Another technique that is used at ChocXO for iced coffee drinks is cold brewing. A regular cup of coffee can be ordered using the drip method, but in order to yield the smoothest iced drinks possible, coffee beans are ground coarsely and then placed overnight in the refrigerator. This yields a cold brewed coffee of exceptional smoothness, excellent for any frappé or iced mocha.
And what about the chocolates? This is where ChocXO really shines, since the drinks can be made with four single origin liquid chocolates or three ganaches, white, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. Several variations of hot chocolate can be made using various combos of the liquid chocolates. Above and beyond that, there are single origin and organic chocolate bars, artisan truffles, handcrafted filled chocolates as well as chocolate and nut barks. With the quality of ChocXO’s chocolate, it really is worth taking home some of their delicious chocolates for later.
Richard Foley put it best when he said, “The ability to explore multiple single origin espressos and chocolates, and experience these two great beans in a wide range of combinations, is important to the overall ChocXO experience. Existing ChocXO fans will be delighted to discover more of what they already love about us, and for new guests, it is an opportunity for us to introduce them to single origin espressos and chocolates, and win them over as fans”.
With the exceptional hot chocolates, ChocXO is certainly a family-friendly place which is unusual for most coffee houses. Wifi is also available so it is a great place to come, do a little work on the laptop and enjoy some exceptional coffee. Even decaf drinkers have an option with a Swiss Water Decaf Colombia, a decaf made with an all-natural decaffination process that yields a rich flavor but without the caffeine.
Once you’ve tried the ChocXO chocolates, a visit to the chocolate factory may be in order. The only one in Orange County, this is a great way to see up close the whole process, from bean to bar. For a nominal charge, guided tours are also available. So go channel your inner chocoholic and go enjoy ChocXO!
CHOCXO COFFEE & CACAO
1534 Adams Ave #A
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
CHOCXO COFFEE & CACAO
20025 Lake Forest Dr #101
Lake Forest, CA 92630
CHOCXO CHOCOLATE FACTORY
9461 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618