Alex Brito agreed to meet up with me at Lamplighter, a local coffee shop in Richmond, to chat about chocolate. My siblings joined me for the morning because they were eager to meet one of the names behind Upchurch Chocolate. Alex smoothly sailed up to my siblings and I on a longboard (I think that’s what it’s called) and handed me a simple yet elegant box emblazoned with the Upchurch hot air balloon logo and filled with several of his bars. This was the first time I had met up in person with a chocolate maker who was so generous to share the product of their hard work with me! Go here to watch my unboxing!
Alex and his friend Alexander Burlingame originally started Upchurch together after trying some high quality chocolate and getting hooked onto the flavor punch. Alex told me that he was working TWO JOBS on top of maintaining Upchurch with two other people helping him with the chocolate making process. His plan was to drop one of the jobs so he could put more focus on Upchurch. Alexander has had to leave Upchurch due to a geographical and career move (best wishes to him!), leaving Alex Brito solely in charge. Upchurch to this day remains as the first and only bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Richmond!
I highly recommend checking out this article to learn more about the backstory of Upchurch chocolate and how the Richmond community, including my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, helped rally around and support Upchurch!
When Alex chatted with us, he shared his thoughts on changing the packaging of his bars. They are bright and colorful to begin with, but the original design was quickly put together. This time he was able to put more thought into the design he wanted on his bars, putting his graphic design skills to great use. The new packaging will still maintain their bright, colorful appearance, but (if they continue with the design examples we were shown) the packaging will contain images that will portray the personality of each bar. You’ll have to see for yourself when the new look is launched!
I’m still blown away by Alex’s generosity in sharing so many of his bars with me, and I absolutely had to share them on Time To Eat Chocolate!
Every bar has the same mold which reflects the fabric pattern seen in the hot air balloon logo.
I’m starting with what I know is my favorite, The Sassy Bar! If you aren’t sure what flavors you could be tasting in this 72% Madagascar bar, Upchurch has helpful tips on the back of the bar saying they tasted raspberries, fruit punch and lemonade. The bar had a bright fruity and partially earthy scent. The flavor was tart with bright fruity flavor notes that definitely reminded me of lemonade and raspberries.
The Bouncy Bar contains goat milk. The flavor notes listed by Upchurch are frosted flakes, jam and vanilla. The bar had a sour scent that reminded me of cheese. Admittedly I’ve never had goat milk before, so I’m not sure what to expect. The goat milk flavor wasn’t as strong as the scent. To me the flavor reminded me very much of goat cheese. I can’t say I tasted any of the notes that were listed on the bar’s packaging, but the boyfriend liked the tangy flavor that the goat milk gave the chocolate. It reminded him of the goats on his grandmother’s farm 🙂
The Party Bar had a subtle woody and berry scent. The tasting notes are listed a birthday cake, peach and blueberry. Immediately once it was in my mouth, I tasted what reminded me of moist birthday cake, caramel and some tartness mixed with berry flavor. The flavors evolved into subtle but bright berry and fruity flavors. Then my bite ended with some astringency and caramel flavor. Now I’m going to want to eat some cake 🙂
The Hype Bar contains coffee and the tasting notes listed for it were s’mores, rocky road ice cream and Oreos. Earlier this week I ate the equivalent of a package of the new mocha Oreos (I have no shame), so I’m totally ready for this bar! The scent of the bar was strongly of coffee and what reminded me of bourbon or whiskey with some sweetness of mead. I tasted the coffee first followed by what reminded me of apples and honey. The fruity and sweet flavors drowned out the coffee midway through my bite. It wasn’t until toward the end that I tasted the coffee again with lingering fruitiness. I didn’t feel like I tasted Oreos, but its good to know that some people may experience that flavor in this bar 🙂
Alex told me that he wanted to grind down the nibs more to give the chocolate a smoother texture. The bars used to have a grittier texture, which I definitely did not mind at all! I could see that Alex successfully obtained the smooth texture he wanted 🙂 I think The Sassy Bar remains as my top favorite bar out of the four followed by the Hype Bar since that was a very interesting flavor experience for me.
If you are in Richmond or plan on stopping by there, go to For the Love of Chocolate or the Union Market to pick up and try some of Alex’s bars! If you can’t drop by, you can always place an order online.
Upchurch Chocolate: Made in Richmond, VA