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.
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!
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