IMG_5276

A dear friend gave me this box of chocolates from Lynchburg, VA. Lynchburg is known for having Liberty University, a Christian college that a few acquaintances have attended. It’s kind of out of the way in the western part of Virginia, but it’s a small, charming town with its own downtown area holding local coffee shops and more. Now I’ve learned they have this gem called Cao Artisan Chocolate 🙂

According to their website, Cao was started and is run by a couple who started making chocolate as a hobby. After high demand for more of their chocolate from family and friends and with the support of their community, they are now a local business with their own factory and store location.

IMG_5279IMG_5278

IMG_5280

The box itself looked simple and aloof, who knew that it would contain so much information about how to taste chocolate, pair it with drinks, and contain a list of tasting notes for each of the four chocolates! (Don’t get me wrong, I tend to like minimalistic packaging.) This box would be great for having an intimate chocolate tasting session between four people, though when I opened the box, the literally closest and most available person I could share with was my boyfriend. I could also see this as a great start for people who are just learning about single-origin and bean-to-bar chocolate. This box, on Cao’s online store, only costs $25. That’s a great deal for the care and detail put into the chocolate and packaging!

IMG_5281

60% Dark Chocolate Sambirano Valley Madagascar

Cao says: “Bright and complex cocoa with citrus and spices like cloves or curry.”

I smelled spiciness from this chocolate and tasted the clove and citrus at first. My bite turned more clove-like, then citrusy and bright. I got an earthy and citrusy aftertaste with slight savory curry spiciness. I really liked this one!

60% Dark Chocolate CIAAB Co-op Bolivia

Cao says: “Rich cocoa profile with sweet toffee notes followed by savory flavors such as rosemary.”

I smelled the toffee and rosemary. I tasted the rosemary at first and it was a bit strong for my taste. It mellowed out into toffee temporarily and then went back to rosemary. This chocolate melted quicker than the first one. I can’t say this was my favorite, but I’m also not a huge rosemary fan.

60% Dark Chocolate Acopagro Peru

Cao says: “Bright tropical notes of citrus and mango with a very delicate cocoa profile.”

This chocolate smelled fruity and I could immediately taste bright citrus followed by mango. I tasted mostly citrus than anything else, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The aftertaste was “tangy”. When I took a second bite, I tasted more of the mango than citrus.

60% Dark Chocolate Gruppo Salinas Ecuador

Cao says: “Deep rich cocoa flavor with mild earthiness and a macadamia nuttiness.”

This chocolate smelled earthy and acidic to me. It tasted earthy with a nutty background flavor and a touch acidic. It grew more nutty as the bite melted but retained the acidity. It grew more acidic toward the end of my bite and left a bitter aftertaste.

My favorite was the first chocolate, 60% Dark Chocolate Sambirano Valley Madagascar, because of the warm spicy flavors in the chocolate. My boyfriend’s favorite was the second chocolate, 60% Dark Chocolate CIAAB Co-op Bolivia.

As an added note (and now that I’ve just finished typing out everything :/ ), while browsing through their website I learned that Cao will soon be having a name change to Altus Chocolate. More information can be found here about that.

If I get the chance to visit my friend in Lynchburg again, I hope to stop by Cao/Altus to try more of their chocolate 🙂

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Made in Lynchburg, Virginia

www.caoartisanchocolates.com