From Bean to Bar to Boulevard

ChocoVivo opens shop

ChocoVivo owner Patricia Tsai has been a busy woman as of late.

Following her recent talk at TEDxSeeds in Japan about her modern take on the Latin American traditions of chocolate-making, Tsai just opened a retail shop on Abbot Kinney [Note: Chocovivio's shop has moved to Culver City]

A bite from a ChocoVivo bar ($6) might take the uninitiated by surprise, as these are no smoothly emulsified bars. Highly textured and only lightly sweetened, Tsai's chocolate takes the form of an American candy bar, but the flavor harkens back to the bitter drink revered by the Aztecs.

The purist's choice will surely be the unadulterated bars comprising nothing but cacao nibs and sugar; there's even a bar fashioned solely from stone-ground nibs.

But we love Tsai's flavored bars too. As we have been known to eat Abuelita chocolate straight, the cinnamon- and chile-spiked Mayan Tradition bar is our favorite.

Tsai is dedicated to buying directly from cacao growers, ensuring that the raw beans she puts in her products meet her high standards. Thus, buying from her new shop completes a laudably short chain from cacao pod to chocolate bar.